Facebook is an interesting phenomenon. I avoided joining a social network for the longest time, but finally caved when I discovered its usefulness for sharing photos with my kids. As a grandmother living far from my offspring, I relish every letter, every card, every picture sent my way updating me on their latest adventures. Their notes and snapshots are cherished keepsakes. Facebook is a simple way to get those notes and photos instantly, to stay connected and updated. When I understood the benefits of social networking, my resistance melted and I became an avid fan.
Of course, once I joined the thing…facebook, fb for short…I found that it was nothing short of a whirlpool sucking time and energy from other, more important activities. Let me explain.
First, there were the kids, spread out halfway across this country, only now I had instant access to them. I learned how to post photos, and eagerly checked each day for news or personal greetings from the children. To my surprise, I discovered on their friends’ list, friends of theirs from when they were in high school, kids I had watched grow up. Isn’t that sweet! So I shot off comments to my children’s friends, letting them know how nice it was to see them after all these years, and my oh my, they had children of their own! Soon thereafter, I heard from an old high school friend of mine, someone I hadn’t heard from in years! We had palled around in the same group, but after graduation had lost touch. I found out he had married his high school sweetheart, who was also a friend of mine. Wow! And they are still married. What a serendipitous occurrence. He asked if I had heard from Kelly, another friend. No, but immediately I did a search and sure enough I found her and added her as a friend. This was proving to be a lot of fun. Through Mike, and then Kelly, I found more friends. Some of them introduced me to their kids, who by the way, are now on my friends list. Pretty soon I began to hear from friends of my friends who asked to be my friend. Of course I was flattered, and any friend of my friend is always welcome to my fb page. Being friends and all, when one of them, I can’t remember which one, asked me to join a game as their neighbor….they needed neighbors to move to the next level…I was more than happy to oblige. But of course, once in the game I realized why they needed me as a neighbor, so, wanting to excel in the game, I asked some of my friends if they could be my neighbor on my farm. The ones who were already playing the game were quick to add me as their neighbor, and others who had not yet joined the game, jumped in and they, too, began to enjoy the fun. Thus,I began to move up in the charming farming game. Then, as before, neighbors of my neighbors began to add me and vice versa. Over time, and in this same way, I joined another farm game….then along came Mafia Wars (I didn’t stay with that one very long) and Petville, and on and on. My fb friend list continued to grow. I enjoyed fb, checking daily to see how my friends were doing, and to check to see how my games were growing. Obviously, with more “friends” to keep up with, the more time fb consumed.
After a while, I realized I was tired. Bored. Lethargic. Lonely. When I stepped back, took a hard look, and made an honest assessment of the situation, I realized that life was passing me by and I had become a zombie staring at silly games for hours on end. The world was moving on, and I had clocked out. International events daily exploded onto the scene, but I obliviously flipped through my fb games to see what “crops” were ready to harvest on a make believe farm. Something was definitely wrong with this picture. Was this an addiction? If not, at the very least I was obsessed with playing the games. So were many of my fb friends. In fact, I knew very little about what was going on in their lives, only that they needed nails and boards and blankets to build a nursery for pink and purple and chocolate baby animals. Time to quit. I announced to my neighbors that I was leaving the game. I had a life to live.
That was not too long ago. In the short time since then, I’ve become a much more consistent blogger. I’ve applied to graduate school in order to become a licensed counselor. I’ve developed a business plan for starting up my own business. My husband and I have spent more time conversing with each other. The house is NOT any cleaner…oh well, can’t change everything. I feel like a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders as I get back in the real game and take charge of my life.
I still go to facebook to briefly check on updates from the kids and a few close friends. No games. Tonight, when Shabbat ended, I got online and saw that my daughter commented on a photo I had posted on facebook of Mom, my twin brother and me on a camping trip in our teepee. I was about 10 years old. I realized that just as I searched for photos of the kids, they enjoyed photos of their mom. And I remembered why I joined facebook in the first place.