I remember when I was in 10th grade, I was dating a guy in college (ooohhh ahhh) and one day when I was visiting him at his dorm room he signed me up for Facebook. I was all proud of myself because I had this great thing that no one else my age had. While all of my peers were still surfing MySpace doing pointless quizzes and rearranging their top 8, I was on to bigger and better things.
Looking back, I am not even sure what we did on Facebook when it first came out. There were no statuses, no mobile apps, no linking to Twitter (mostly because Twitter didn’t even exist). We could take our microchip out of our digital camera, plug it into the card reader adapter for the laptop, and upload our photos… And then people we barely knew- or didn’t know at all- could comment on these photos and “like” the photos. We could “poke” people we had never met, who lived in different states. Why this was appealing, I have no idea.
Jump forward to 2015, and most of the world is desperately addicted to this thing that 10 years ago we didn’t even know existed. We spend hours scrolling through the news feed, the minute anything remotely interesting happens we immediately grab our phones to snap photos and post statuses about how great it was that this thing happened. Instead of actually enjoying what is happening, we are too busy posting about what is happening. We are missing entire hours, days, and weeks of our lives while we mindlessly troll through this website, as if somehow we will be more fulfilled by having likes and comments.
There are news stories of moms who get anonymous letters from girlfriends who can’t stand to see one more photo of their child doing abstract things. We have people who spend their entire day fighting with someone they don’t know on someone else’s post about politics. When did it become so important to live on the digital world and less important to live in the real world?
My husband brought it to my attention in 2014, that I had a bad habit of over sharing on Facebook. I would post every hour to two hours about where I was and what I was doing- Still at work! In my cubicle!, Eating lunch! In my cubicle!- I was constantly posting about when he was away and when I was away. I was never giving any thought to who was reading my posts. With a public profile, anyone could see that I was home alone, or not home at all. If someone wanted to come and hurt me, I was giving them a play by play itinerary of when would be the best time! If someone wanted to rob me, they didn’t need to case the property, they simply needed to visit my profile.
I was making it easy for them.
I was making it hard on myself. I was posting about really inappropriate things. I posted about people I didn’t like, and things I didn’t want to do, places I didn’t want to visit. So, imagine how it must have felt to be that person who invited me to go somewhere and do something and then later see how much I hated it. I lost a few friends, and I made several enemies. While the information I was posting was true, it would have been better to go to those people privately, or to keep it to myself entirely. Lesson learned.
This really hit home this year when I gave birth to Little Darling. I realized that every time she was doing something I was snatching my phone. Instead of laying on the floor playing and enticing her to roll over- I had the camera jammed in her face recording her to see if she would roll over. Every day I was posting tons of photos of every minute of my child’s life. While I had taken the initiative to delete a bunch of friends last year and I know my friend list is only people I know, that doesn’t mean they need to see every aspect of my life. It dawned on me, that I was watching Little Darling grow up through the lens of my phone instead of through my eyes. I was desperately posing her on sofas and boppys trying to make her do adorable things to get more likes. What kind of parent am I?
So I started trying to take a step back. I stopped posting statuses to Facebook. I still scrolled the news feed continuously and I was sharing tons of articles and videos and fun posts that my friends had, but I didn’t post any actual statuses. I also stopped posting photos. I would send the photos to friends and family or save them on my phone for a visit to Walmart to print them. No more sharing of photos on Facebook.
Once I got the hang of not posting my life on Facebook, it got easier and easier to not post anything on Facebook. I still take a few minutes every day to scroll the news feed and see what my friends are doing because I don’t want to lose touch completely, but I don’t feel that pull to post every thought the minute I think it. In time, I may disable my Facebook and just give my friends my email address or my phone number. It would definitely weed out the friends of convenience. But, for right now, I feel pretty good with where I stand. I have learned the difference between posting for fun, posting for necessity, and posting inappropriately.
We went to a wedding this weekend, and I successfully left my phone in my purse almost the entire time. Not only did I not post on Facebook, I didn’t take a single photo while I was there. I didn’t text all my friends to say “guess where I am”, I didn’t even feel the need to. I was just there, in the moment, enjoying it. And it was great.
I know this world is a very different world from what I grew up in, and a completely different world from what my parents grew up in, but I don’t want to raise a child who doesn’t understand the need to unplug once in a while. Technology is great, the world not only survives, but thrives with technology. But, too much of a good thing.. is a bad thing. We all need to take some time and turn it off once in a while. Sit on the porch, watch the world go by. You may be surprised what you see.