I don't know if y'all know this, but a week ago I decided to give up Facebook. It wasn't a matter of eternity (only a week) but it still felt so monumental in my life. It may sound completely silly, but I learned a ton about myself from the self-proclaimed fast. More in fact, than I could have learned from the countless status updates of others. Since relinquishing Facebook's zombie inducing effects, I have had a lot of time to think (a dangerous past time! NAME THAT MOVIE). And with that thinking time, I found myself thinking about Facebook ... a lot, and I have officially decided that Facebook is a conspiracy destined to ruin the lives of all who use it.
You might wonder why I think this ... There are a ton of reasons, but here are the TOP FOUR:
1. It is a black hole of lost opportunities. For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these "it might have been." This past general conference, Robert D. Hales gave a super awesome talk about personal conversion and he used this quote. I was actually at the Conference Center when these words were spoken and they have stayed with me through the year. I have always wondered the things I could accomplish if I spent less time on the computer and more time serving others and bettering myself. Well, as the week has gone on, I found myself doing exactly that. I found time in my day to serve, to clean, to bake, to read and read and read. In fact, I finished Spencer W. Kimball's biography (which was excellent) and also a book he wrote called "Faith Precedes the Miracle" which has become one of my favorite church books! I was also able to read the ENTIRE New Testament -- this in and of itself made the whole Facebook free week worth it. I learned so much about the gospel and my testimony was strengthened, especially my testimony of Jesus Christ. It is incredible what might be if we just avoid or limit the time we spend on the internet and Facebook, specifically. I am not suggesting that Facebook is evil in itself, but it does have a bit of a time sucking quality. Am I right? Have you ever found yourself sitting down for a just a few spare minutes and then getting up an hour later? Or have you ever woken up and flipped over your phone to automatically see how many notifications you have gotten over the course of the night? Please don't tell me that it's just me that finds myself doing it! That would make me feel like a loser ... which brings me to my next point.
2. It damages real life relationships and social skills. I have been on Facebook for longer than I care to admit. Its been a friend or foe all through out my awkward years and through my social prime. Through it all, I have noticed how I am just a little different behind a computer screen than out in person. I tend to be a little wittier online, a little more bold in my thinking, and a little more offended when people do not respond the way I think they should to the way I act. Some people are more vulgar online than in person. Some are more reserved. There are some shy people (in real life) that I know that are able to open up over the internet. I think this is an incredible thing to behold! I think that because the computer is such a convenient way to contact people, it is slowly replacing face to face communication with others. If I have a problem to solve, or if I don't want to offend someone too much, if I want to confess my love to someone ... I'll post it on Facebook! Once again, I'm sure it is not this way for everyone, but I think that when I was younger, Facebook made me a little bit too comfortable with who I was on the computer, leaving my real self wondering how to move forward. Luckily, I have been able to grow out of that, but it really makes me wonder how much our interactions online determine how we are as a real person.
3. It encourages stalking. One of the things I missed the most about Facebook during the week was the stalking. That seems incredibly stupid, but it is so true. Fun fact -- as a youngster, I was the nosiest person in the world. I love knowing other people's business, whether it be how they are feeling or who they are going out with currently. Facebook stalking is such an easy, unobtrusive way to get that information, but it is so wrong for me to enjoy! I found myself seeing the things that others would put on Facebook and wanting more, but to ask in person would admit that you have been Facebook stalking! Such a tricky thing. And then there is the fact that others could be stalking me as well ... which just wasn't something that I was comfortable with.
4. It is potentially addictive (and therefore harmful). I really do think that Facebook, in little doses, is a wonderful tool to connect and share the gospel. It has been a lovely thing for me to help reach out to less active people and my friends from various summer camps. However, I have an extremely addictive personality. I get obsessed about things very easily and Facebook is not excluded from my obsessions. I sometimes find myself rolling out of bed and checking my phone to see what's happened on the Facebook world while I've been asleep. I don't think that that is a very healthy habit ... it is certainly worth taking a break when it gets to be that bad.