The following is a guest post from one of my readers. If you are interested in submitting a guest post on your thoughts about Facebook, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Returning to Facebook for a Good Cause
It’s been almost a year since I deactivated my Facebook account. From the beginning I was convinced that this was a very good decision. I was reaffirmed in my belief when I recently returned with disastrous results.
Even before I deactivated my account, I wasn’t using it very often. I didn’t care for how I felt after I spent time on there. I enjoyed the idea that I was a part of my friends’ and relatives’ lives, but would end up realizing that all I was doing was essentially spying on them and offering a few useless comments here and there. I tried to keep up with everyone, but found it to be too overwhelming. I had too many “friends” to actually be real friends with. Not only that, there were many times that looking at all of the highlighted accomplishments would make me feel depressed about my own life and lack of similar accomplishments. I wasn’t finished with school, starting a family, buying a house, etc. I had been doing things with my life, school, traveling, working, but it always seemed to pale when compared to others. I also couldn’t stand the “religious” bigotry, racism, or repeated ignorance that I saw in every other comment on there. It all got to be too much. I realized that I could keep the real relationships and make them more meaningful by not being on the site, so that it what I did.
Then came St. Baldrick’s Day at my university. It is a day in which people either shave their heads in support of fighting childhood cancer, or donate their hair to locks of love to make wigs for children in treatment. Part of support is the raising of donations to help fund research. Since I was taking part in this event this year, I wanted to help out as much as I could. I created a donation page on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website and gave in to the advice to ask for help on Facebook.
When I reactivated my account, my first post made it clear that I was only there to get help for children in need and that afterwards I would be leaving again. I made a few updates giving the link and encouraging my friends to donate. I posted two pictures that showed how long my hair was, that would soon be donated, in order to try to get extra attention for the cause. I felt that the pictures may get the attention that the comments were missing out on. I was excited at the possibility of many of my friends and relatives contributing to such a worthy and relevant cause. With all those people, I thought that reaching my small goal of $100 would be a cinch. After all, that’s only asking for about $1 from most, not even everyone. However, my hopes came crashing down when after almost two weeks the only people who donated, or even mentioned it, were my husband and mother. Those were the two people that I asked in person.
I tried to temper my disappointment with reason. Perhaps there is just so much noise on Facebook that they did not really see my posts. Maybe people get asked for donations so much that they didn’t see it. Maybe people didn’t notice that I was back for that short time. However, when I returned to deactivate my account, I saw that one of my friends had reposted my picture with an excited comment about how I had returned to Facebook. No mention of the fact that I had stated that I was only back for a short time in the name of curing childhood cancer. While I appreciated the appreciation, I was saddened that all my efforts fell by the wayside. People liked my pictures, but no one even commented on my request. It was as if my words were gibberish. Is that what Facebook is reduced to? Are we merely our pictures taken out of context? These issues rudely reminded me of why I left in the first place.
While my Facebook was reactivated I was mostly able to ignore the temptation to check in on everyone. I have to admit that I did scroll down a tiny bit when I saw the newsfeed. My eye was caught by a few things and it was hard to resist: I admit it. When my husband offered to help me deactivate it again, (they tend to hide it), he couldn’t resist the urge to check a friend’s wall. Here again, we were upset by Facebook. This is where I saw that my purpose was lost, but also that another person’s private matters were being discussed with everyone on the site. While I understand that this person and others had strong feelings about the matter, my husband and I both felt that this was unfair to the person who it mattered most to. We did not feel that they should have their business all over the internet if they were obviously not ready to tell other people about it. Before Facebook came along, this probably would still have been told to some other people, and even it was appropriate to do so. I acknowledge that. The problem is that Facebook allows hundreds of people to now know with one simple comment. It is like putting personal business on a billboard for all to see. This is not good for relationships as it takes much of the respect for other’s feelings out of the picture. Everything becomes news, and people forget that sharing isn’t always appropriate.
Looking back at all of this, I was sadly disheartened. I thought that it would be a simple thing to merely utilize Facebook for a good cause. I thought that I could make a difference with it. I was wrong. I find that this is the case with many people’s experience with Facebook. People are very quick to extol the virtues and possibilities of Facebook, when in reality it is only a place for shallow gossip. The only way that we can change the world is in our day to day lives. My time would have been better spent calling people or asking them in person. At least then I would have been seen as a human being, instead of letters on a screen and pretty face in a picture. Now I feel that I have learned the full lesson. Facebook is not only a waste of time, it is detrimental to society. People are fooled into thinking that they are actually doing productive things when it is all an illusion. It is time to stand up and say no to Facebook and yes to living real lives. That is how we will make a difference in the world.
Author: The author wishes to remain anonymous, but uses the pen name of Little Fawn. For more information on the St. Baldricks foundation, please visit their website at http://www.stbaldricks.org/.