Lately I have been lessening my online presence. A couple weeks ago I got rid of my old blog, an internet diary if you will, which has caused some issues in my own family. I don't think they can comprehend why I am lessening my presence on the internet. I don't think they get it. We are a scattered family, with members living in Florida, New York, Washington (the state), Georgia, Oregon and deep in the heart of Texas (home of the Alamo™). As a familial unit that is scattered across the United States, many of us have turned to Facebook to keep in touch with each other. It was originally thought that Facebook would bring us closer together even though we are all so far apart (how wrong we all were). However, the truth is, Facebook has had a part in the rift that is developing in my family, and that I feel is going to grow larger until people start asking if Facebook is really worth it.
There is a Facebook addiction that has taken many families by storm. Mine is no exception. They tell each other that it's the best way to keep in touch with each other. Is it? Or is it a way to keep tabs on the lives of people? Is it a control mechanism, a dark spying device, a virtual cat of nine tails?
Not only that, but I got rid of my personal blog account (which has caused at least two members of my family much stress). I just walked away from it one day. I heard through the grapevine that this was not looked kindly upon. Why is s/he leaving the internet, they ask. Why is s/he leaving us behind? I am not leaving you behind. I am leaving the fighting behind. You see, there is a rift forming amongst some of the people I know and it has been forming for a while. It's not a rift I hear about in person, but one that exists via the internet. It's a rift that people whisper about and talk about in the dark shadows. It's a rift that is discussed through Facebook chat and over the telephone amongst those in my family who I have dubbed 'the users'. The 'Facebook Effect' is causing people to read themselves into everything! As Facebook is centered around you, the user, the Facebook Effect is a symptom of seeing everything in your life as having to do with you. Perhaps they have taken my absence from Facebook and the deletion of my blog personally. Perhaps they truly think that I have 'unfriended' them or 'real life disliked' them (you know, being liked on Facebook is really a big deal to some people).
The reality is, when a person focuses on every little thing they do in a day and feel compelled to share it with the rest of the world, they are going to grow somewhat more 'self centered'. It's not a bad thing to be worried about the self and think of yourself, but it can get to a point where it is not healthy. When one reads something on the internet that another person says and all of the sudden becomes defensive about it, the Facebook Effect has shown itself.
I find that the internet is not a social playground. Nor should it be (nor can it be). That's what real life is for. I honestly feel that the internet is best for getting information. Social interaction online is usually phoney and awkward. There is no way to tell if a person is being honest. There is no reason for a person not to be honest. Sure, liars exist everywhere, but online it's all too easy to stink up the truth. Further, when someone says something on the internet, too much can be read into it. For example, I once wrote a story and someone I knew could not help but see herself in the character. I told her thrice that she was not the antagonist, but I don't think she believed me! It was just a story about a young man and his crazy mother! It was not about the individual in question. As Bastian Balthazar Bux screamed in The Neverending Story: "it's only a story, it's not real! It's only a story!"
Members of my family can see me when I make my way back to the west coast. They don't need to see me wasting my time on Facebook. They don't need to see me lurking around the internet like a child predator. There is nothing to be gained from being on that site. They don't need to read a blog that they only become defensive about. I won't be posting there anymore. I think they should just all relax. Truth is, it's important to sometimes take a step away from the internet. Maybe go camping (I am going to post some of my most recent camping pictures below, this is something every Facebook user should think about doing (not posting camping pictures -- going camping! It's so fun to get away from Facebook and computers and mobile phones and just enjoy nature!)
See those berries? They were delicious. And I rented a canoe and took it out on the lake there. It was great. It was in New Hampshire, here's the link: Pillsbury State Park, NH. We spent two nights out there, no cell phone (it was left in the car - I wish I would have just ran it over), no Facebook, no MySpace, no Pinterest (I don't think it was around then), no LinkedIn (I was LinkedOut that weekend), no Twitter (that was one trip I felt no need to Tweet about, actually I've never tweeted about a trip and I never will). No, just myself, my significant other, and nature all around us. It was so nice to get away from the television, the radio, the hum of electricity, and just surround ourselves with nature. Taking a long hike into the hills, feeling that cool mountain air against us. We got rained out the second night and ended up breaking camp very early, but overall it was worth it. That campfire food alone was worth it.
There is so much to see in life, so much to do. There is so much that we are missing by being on Facebook and fighting amongst each other. I can't imagine being glued to that site now that I left. I see and hear about others using it and I feel like there has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It's truly a dark place on the internet, and the internet can be an amazing tool or a horrible burden. Like most things in life, it's truly what you make of it.