One thing that I like to recommend to people who want to get away from (a)social networking is to go camping. I enjoy camping as it allows me to spend time in nature. That being the case, I am going camping tomorrow. I will not be using a cell phone, computer or the like. Not because I believe that the technology is bad, but because I think it's important to sometimes step back and have some quiet time. It is nice to reflect on life.
Sites like Facebook make it almost impossible to reflect on life and on who you are. Instead, these sites have people obsessing over other people. When you feel down on yourself, going on Facebook and seeing other people bragging does little to help one's self esteem. Even if there is nothing wrong with your own life in your eyes, Facebook has a way of making a person feel inadequate. I have realized that I am not inadequate though. In fact, most of what is posted on Facebook is half-truths or sugar-coated. Reading that and letting it allow me to feel awful was perhaps the worst thing I could have been doing to myself -- but like a drug, I always wanted to go back.
One of my readers called me a "neo-Luddite", a person who eschews technology. However, that is not how I feel. I realize that many forms of technology, even the mobile phone, which I sometimes hate on, has a place in society. Further, I admit that this device has helped people out greatly. At the same time I believe that many people allow themselves to become addicted to new technology and stop living their lives as a result. It is that which I am against. Why spend your life hooked up to a device in order to tell the world what you are eating? While technology is good, I do not believe that the world should be fully transparent.
Some secrets are good. Quiet time with self-reflection is good. Not sharing your entire life with others is a good thing. In a world full of video cameras and internet (a)social networking sites shouldn't some privacy be sought? In a world where one's information is easily transferred and sold, should one not crave privacy? Is it alright to eat something and not share it with the world? Is it alright to get a promotion and keep it between yourself and your family for a while? Is there something wrong with a person who does not share every small detail of their life? I don't think so.
Showing off to the world.
I believe that privacy is more important than ever today and many people are starting to slowly realize that. Being on (a)social networking sites may be fun at first, but over time people are seeing that the costs outweigh the benefits. While it may be nice to know what your brothers and sisters are doing, obsessing over other people's lives takes time away from your own. Further, it's honestly tacky to show off your life to the world in such fashion.
For example, imagine you lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone else and you wanted to share that you were buying a new three bedroom home on a couple of acres. You told a few people, but you wanted everyone in town to know. After all, you were a prominent member in this small community, perhaps a school principal or the local butcher. Everyone knew you. You decided that one way in which you could tell everyone about your new home purchase was to advertise it on a billboard right on Main street. So you did just that. Even though the economy was bad at the time you did not let it stop you. You took out that ad and everyone in town saw that you bought a beautiful three bedroom home right outside of town. You felt good as you saw everyone driving by and looking at it.
You watched as the local pastor passed by the sign, taking in the image of the big windows facing the mountains in the distance. You smiled as you saw one of the neighbors leaving the cafe and stopping, looking upwards at the billboard with your proud accomplishment on it. You felt really good about it, but eventually everyone knew and people stopped looking at the sign. So, now you would take an advertisement out for something else. Perhaps the landscaping you were having done. Perhaps it was the new car you were leasing. Maybe it was the lamb stew you were cooking for dinner, or the meal you had at a local four star restaurant while on vacation. Is Facebook really that much different? The only thing is, with Facebook, everyone is putting up billboards on the most mundane of topics.
In conclusion, while I feel that technology is an important part of life, there has to be a place for reflection and quietness. Turning off technology for a while does a person a world of good. Reflecting on who you are and what it means to be human is important. Why spend so much time trying to compare yourself to people you barely know when you could get to know yourself better? Do you know what is it that you want in life? Do you know your own goals? If you spend your life enamored by the lives of others on sites like Facebook, chances are you do not. Reacquaint yourself with you. Take some time and get away. There are plenty of opportunities for quietness all around you. If you can not go camping, go to a local park and spend some time amongst the trees. Do not take your cell phone. Do not think about Facebook, Twitter, or Friendster. Resist the urge to post about your time in nature. Keep that time as your own sacred time. It's even better if you can find a place that is yours, in which you can always reflect. Perhaps you have a place out back which could be free of the noise of Facebook. Maybe a room in your home? There has to be somewhere you know of. Find that place and find yourself.