I suppose it could be worse. Both of my sisters as well as my father do not have a Facebook account. However, being bestowed with a barrage of in-law siblings who all use Facebook is enough to make a person go quite mad. When a person is thinking about leaving Facebook and other similar atrocities, how does one go about it when family is breathing down their necks, talking about Facebook at every turn. Examples:
"Aunt Martha posted pictures of her twin Chihuahuas on Facebook. Did you see them? Oh, that's right. You deleted your account. That's too bad, because they are really handsome dogs."
"I was wondering if you ever thought about joining back on Facebook and posting pictures of your trip down to Florida. We are all dying to see what Tallahassee was like."
"Gramma Bessie isn't getting any younger, and since you left Facebook you kind of left her to die. Just sayin'" (I could see this said by a certain individual that I have the pleasure of knowing.)
"Everyone else is on Facebook. What makes you so special as to not have an account? You know, you were always a bit asocial as a kid, and I can see some things just never change."
"Your cousin, Mark Tate-Reynolds IV just got on Facebook! Imagine that. He was always such a clutz with computers. A real techno-putz. And now he signed up. It's not much, but it's sure nice to see him on Facebook."
"I can't believe your sister tagged me in that hideous picture! She knows I don't like that one. She better not put it on Pinterest!"
"Dad wrote a beautiful piece for uncle Rodney's funeral. I tweeted it. Do you have Twitter?"
I don't live near my family. I live in New York while they all live on the west coast. Therefore, it seems that it would be important for me to have some kind of link-up to an (a)social networking site, doesn't it? Further, I have not have the pleasure of meeting and mingling with them for two years now, which would make it seem almost dire that I log on Facebook right now and tell them about what is going on, right? And since it is Easter, how can I just sit here, Facebookless while they all share happy images of bunnies and holiday quotes while I am alone with my spouse outside the loop? Am I missing out? Should I run to rejoin Facebook right this moment, log in, and promise I will never leave them all again? I think not.
First of all, I want to make this point to everyone who happens reads this who also happens to be in a similar situation. A situation in which most of the family is obsessive with (a)social networking but you are not. A situation in which phone and in-person conversations with family invariably always gravitate towards the dark subject of (a)social networking.
What should you say when your family mentions the beast. Does a simple "that's nice" suffice? Or should you say something else, something along the lines of "I don't know. I left that site a while back. Remember?" Or maybe something like, "you know how I feel about that site"? Because, chances are, even if you left Facebook, your family is not going to see it how you see it. Remember: Facebook is an addiction. It is not "just a way to keep in touch with family members". That is what family (and everyone else) wants you to think so you go back. They may even think that by you going back to Facebook it validates their choice to be there. Once you leave they start to think, perhaps subconsciously, that their choice is not the best choice. Maybe Facebook isn't what it's cracked up to be? Maybe they are spending too much time going to Facebook. Maybe the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do at night is Facebook? Maybe some of them can't help but check their status when the light is red, or when standing in line, or even when walking down the street, oblivious and bumping into people passing by.
This summer I will be going back to my family, a well meaning group of individuals. They, like almost every family in this country, use Facebook. They will undoubtedly mention it in passing. "I wish you were back on Facebook." "Facebook is a lot more quiet without you" (which is probably true, I was very vocal on that site. Some people actually said that I was the biggest reason that they stayed on the site. I left shortly after. I sincerely hope they did too). I will perhaps point them to this blog. Will they read it? I hope so. It's a bit longer than 140 characters in length, and I hope that fact doesn't deter them. There's no use of the text-speak that is becoming the norm on Facebook and throughout our once proud (and somewhat dying) language: ur, y, 2morrow, l8r, etc.
I think the answer, when dealing with family who keeps pestering you about going back to Facebook, is to be firm. Tell them that you are not going back. Tell them that you have made up your mind: "Facebook is just not right for me." You could tell them that you feel that "Facebook is not right for [them], either." However, that might be too much. You must remember, many people are having a lot of fun on that site. The fun doesn't last forever though. Most families eventually bring their real life rivalries and arguments onto Facebook, and perhaps at this time you may tell them that it may be time to let go. I have seen a couple families wage war on Facebook, and I have seen hints that a Facebook war may be brewing with other individuals who I know. Once a Facebook war emerges, Facebook is not as fun, and the taint arises. Perhaps then mention: "Facebook may not be right for you, either."
Try to not be holier than thou when you say it. I imagine that most people who have left Facebook and who look at others who are addicted to it can not help but feel superior. I sometimes wonder if, maybe, just maybe, those who do not use Facebook could be a tad smarter than those who do? I will not draw any conclusions, though, as I do not know of any study that has been done that would suggest so one way or the other. However, I imagine there is a type of intelligence that goes with not being sucked in by something so addictive. Even if you are intelligent enough to get out of the black hole known as Facebook, others may not be. Others may see you as stupid for not wanting to be there. Intelligence is often seen as relative. The debate is out there regarding if it is or isn't.
Stay strong. Ignore the urge to join or go back to Facebook. If your family wants to foster a relationship with you, then tell them that such a relationship must occur outside of the boundaries of Facebook. If they say it would be easier to converse on Facebook, tell them that you want to converse outside of it, and you have made up your mind on the issue. You have, after all, made a valid choice. If members of your family stop talking to you as much as they did on Facebook that is not your fault, but a reflection of them. I must say that I have not noticed a difference with close family members (parents, spouses parents, and siblings) but I have noticed a difference in communication with others. Chances are, people you went to high school with and those who you met in that child psychology class are not going to keep in touch with you after you leave. That is just how it is. Be firm. Show that you did not leave them behind, you left the medium behind. Share with them your life. How much you have done since being away from Facebook. Sure, you won't be posting pictures of that trip to the Maldives on Facebook, but you can share pictures via e-mail and make a phone call to talk about it. An intimate one to one call. Imagine that? A call that doesn't involve over 300 people, some of whom you never even met, all commenting and trying to outdo each other. However, I bet you that your relationship with that person who you are on the phone with will be better than it ever would have been solely through a 140 word comment.
Is your family obsessed with Facebook while you are not? Or perhaps you don't see the harm in it? Share your thoughts by commenting.