It seems at the start of every summer I feel the need to re-organize my life. I sit down and make a list of all the tasks I have to do each day and how much time I ought to be devoting to each. I try to incorporate down time into this schedule as well. This year is no different; last week I started working on my annual “me schedule” (I’m still not finished), and I came to the conclusion that my relationship with social media just might have to come to an end. Facebook and I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship for a long time; those kinds of relationships are never healthy, so perhaps it’s time for me to dump that brain-sucker once and for all. Or at least we need to spend some time apart. As for Twitter and blogging, those have been more on-again/off-again friendships; although as far as social media is concerned, the less time we spend with it the better, so really, that’s not a bad thing.
(OK, here is where I start inserting completely unrelated photos from Memorial Day Weekend at the Indianapolis 500, just to make you jealous. Haha.)
I resisted joining Facebook for a while. I already had some online forums and blogs that I regularly read and posted on; Facebook just seemed like just one more thing to waste time doing. When I finally let myself be talked into opening an account, I was immediately hooked. I was excited to re-connect with people who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was an easy way to touch base with friends and family. I checked my feed and updated my status several times a day, and got pulled into long comment threads about what’s so great about this or that movie or whatever. I loudly proclaimed my Catholic identity and my pro-life stance, and posted many articles and memes about each. I was actively blogging by this time, too, and wrote about everything from politics to Catholicism to books and movies, and occasionally shared something about my personal and family life. I spent a lot of time writing and publishing my conversion story, and got quite a bit of positive feedback from it. It wasn’t long before I entered the Twitterverse, and soon found myself checking the Twitter feed on my phone constantly and tweeting like crazy. I slowed down eventually, and while I still look at Twitter frequently, I rarely post anything on it.
I started my list by calculating the hours between waking up each day and bedtime, and trying to figure out how many hours I spend (or need to spend) on certain things. Starting in the fall I’ll work four hours a day, so hopefully this summer I can devote a few hours each day to some long-overdue task like cleaning out this or that closet, or (finally) opening up bank accounts for the boys. I want to devote time each day to prayer, exercise, a nap (yes, indeed), and reading (books, magazines, and newspapers; especially books. Social media and blogs do not count. I hope to stick to this.) I even made an “entertainment” category for things like watching a movie or TV show with the family or with Joe, or attending a show or a concert or a sporting event. Here at the end of the school year we had plenty of school plays and chorus concerts and such, so we certainly haven’t been wanting for entertainment lately! I figured on the rare evenings when we didn’t have some place to go or something to watch, I’d spend time with my blog. (Of course, as I write this it’s 8:30 am on Friday, and technically I ought to be de-cluttering my dining room. I don’t think that will take four hours, so I’m good, right?) During the school year, I spend an average of two hours a day in the car(!) so by the time I plug all of my other activities into my schedule, there just isn’t any place for social media (despite the fact that I spent a half hour on Facebook this morning, when I had originally planned to read the Bible and pray the Rosary.) Eventually I want to start teaching Religious Education again, and hopefully be a confirmation team leader for Moe, and I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to fit those things in. It might mean sacrificing some of my down time–including time spent with blogs and social media.
I’ve already started purging my Facebook page. I’ve “unliked” a number of pages, including some Catholic blogs, and –yes–even Nicholas Sparks’ fan page. My newsfeed is getting cluttered with stuff I don’t read, and sometimes I find myself reading people’s status updates with either disinterest or with a twinge of envy. (“Greetings from Hawaii!” But…I want to be in Hawaii, too! “Look at all these yummy vegetables growing in my garden!” I don’t have a garden; there must be something wrong with me! Or the worst: “Here I am enjoying this lovely evening with my bestest friend so-and-so.” I’m your friend, too; why wasn’t I invited? You hate me! Wah!) Sometimes if I haven’t seen any updates from someone in a while, especially if it’s a person I don’t know that well and I don’t talk to face-to-face very often, the paranoia kicks in and I feel the need to check to see if that person is still my Facebook friend. If they’re not on my list I can’t help feeling a little dejected and wonder why they don’t like me. Which is silly, because my recent Facebook purge also involved removing some people from my friend list, not because I hate them or that they offended me, but just because they’re people who I don’t interact with and honestly don’t have any kind of real-life friendship with. So PLEASE–if I un-friend you, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! And if I EVER hurt your feelings by saying something flippant that maybe I think is funny, or is poorly worded or whatever, PLEASE TELL ME! I would much rather be admonished for my stupidity and given the chance to apologize than for anyone to avoid or de-friend me because I’m a jerk.
I guess what I really want is to use Facebook as a way to enhance my relationships, not as a substitute for them. I love that I can share a friend’s joy when she gives birth, or her son graduates, or when her daughter gets married. If someone has a death in the family, or a loved one is sick, or a family has just made the heart wrenching decision to put their dog down, I can offer condolences and prayers for them. If I know someone is going through a tough time I can pick up the phone and call them, or send them flowers, or offer help. I love that I can wish family and friends Happy Birthday; although how many times have I not sent someone a birthday card, rationalizing that I sent them a Facebook greeting and that’s good enough? Sometimes a Facebook message just doesn’t cut it when what my friend needs is a hug.
(If you can guess the legendary race car driver this is with Curly, you’ll win a prize. Okay, not really. To tell you the truth, if I ever ran into him on the street I would not know him from Adam.)
I hope you’ll bear with me while I re-assess my relationship with social media and the Internet. I may remove a few more people from my friend list (but maybe not). If I can resist, I might even stay away from Facebook for a while. I might purge my Twitter feed as well, and only keep the “follows” that I read and interact with. I want to start blogging regularly again, and maybe spending less time on Facebook and Twitter will allow me to actually read more blogs; and I hope my blog followers (and there are very few of you) will not be upset if I un-follow yours. I just don’t have time to read all the posts in my blog reader, and I’m finding myself reading certain blogs faithfully and some not at all.
And now it’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve spent exactly zero minutes on housecleaning, zero minutes exercising, and zero minutes praying. It’s a beautiful day. Time to take advantage of it.