All through January and February I was thinking much more heavily about the film “The Social Network”.  It was one of the top contenders at the Oscars and a lot of critics and bloggers had some fascinating opinions about the movie.  The general consensus was that the film was a brilliant study on communication breakdown.

How is my own communication affected by Facebook?  That was the big question I wasn’t asking when I deactivated my account a little over a month ago.  I didn’t get off “the book” because of Lent, nor was it really a pre-planned break.  I wanted to deactivate my profile for several months but never got the chance because of some fan page responsibilities I have.  Those responsibilities changed, and during a particularly bad week, I decided the time was right to get the heck off the book.

The hiatus was very much needed.  By the end of the first week off the book, I stopped immediately clicking on the Facebook bookmark in my browser every time I went online.  So, that primary motor skill was happily demoted to a lower category.

I spent more time checking and responding to e-mails, which was highly productive.  I realized how much real time I had metaphorically flushed down the digital toilet just by clicking on one profile, which would lead to another, and then another, and then another, and then….  It’s like your own private Wikipedia.  So by week two, I came to the conclusion that Facebook is a vampiric social network.  It very nearly requires that you spill a lot of blood waste a lot of time.

Somewhere along the line, I realized people were forgetting to invite me to social gatherings until the last minute because they assumed I’d gotten the Facebook invite.  I also realized some friends from film school had made some major decisions and posted the news on their status, which I consequently did not see.  And I can’t tell you how many times I had a wicked-awesome-hilarious status come to my head that I could not share with the world.  Do you know how it feels to be deprived of “likes” you know you deserve?  It’s terrible.

But still, all the new the privacy and healthy isolation forced me to be doubly intentional about my own communication.  I wasn’t projecting the best version of myself.  It was just me.  On the phone.  Or in person.  That this process was somehow uncomfortable only further solidifies how easily Facebook allows us to construct pretty facades.

I re-activated my profile a couple days ago, hoping to go under the radar and ease back into using the book.  I got several nice hellos.  But this wall post, from my roommate, uh…concerned me.

If home is where the heart is, then this wall post confirms that the Facebook vampires do indeed go for the jugular.

For now, I remain on the book.  I do like the immediacy of seeing updates in the lives of my friends and family.  And I have several contacts on Facebook that I cannot contact in any other manner.

But I suppose the lesson I learned is that if you love talking to the Facebook version of your friends more than the real version, then you should reevaluate those friendships.  Or, at the very least, reevaluate the quality of your communication.  Whatever the case, if you’ve never taken an extended break from Facebook, and the idea of doing so makes you tremble, then you, most of all, should get the heck off the book.


About Collin Damon Welch
Collin worked in the film/TV industry for a while. Now he's pursuing ministry. He and his incomparably beautiful wife Nicole live in Chicago.

One Response to Facespace

  1. Katie says:

    This was in the school paper this week:

    “The Social Network Syndrome”

    A new-found concern has doctors warning parents of teens who have become overly-obsessed with Facebook, which has led to a condition called Facebook depression.
    In a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, out of 200 student Facebook users, 25 percent experienced Facebook depression.
    At-Risk “Facebook depression” is similar to social anxiety. People have a social desire to be accepted, friendships and relationships are vitally important to our existence, and the facebook medium opens you up to being a victim in so many ways.
    It is not uncommon for a Facebook user to spend hours staring at a screen filled with friends updating their status about who they are hanging out with, wall posts filled with inside jokes, and pictures of happy-looking people having a good time. If the person who sees this feels like they don’t measure up to the people having all this fun, they may go into an “I’m not good enough” mode.
    Freshman Abigail Demaree said that Facebook has never made her feel depressed, but she feels some people share unnecessary information about their lives on the site. “It’s just funny to read about their life story and their drama every day,” said Demaree.
    The first thing sophomore Hailee King does when she logs on to Facebook is check her notifications. King said “When I get a notification, I feel excited because it means people are thinking about me.”
    A study recently done in India shows that when a user notices that no one has “liked” their status, the brain registers it as mild pain.
    “When no one likes my status, I delete it. I don’t feel disappointed. I just feel like it wasn’t an awesome status,” King said.
    The most common reason teens start to feel “Facebook” depressed is because they see their friends having fun with someone other than themselves.
    Junior Zack Larkins said, “When I see my friends updating their statuses about who they are hanging out with and how much fun they are having, I start to feel a little left out. I’m like ‘Am I not cool enough to hang out with you now?’ and start thinking about it too much.”
    When teens see this, they start to look for things in themselves that might be wrong with them. This can cause the facebook user’s self-esteem and confidence to lower each time they see and think about it.
    There are many ways to prevent Facebook depression aside from deleting an account. Everyone controls how they feel, and by knowing that they don’t need everyone’s attention and everyone to particularly “like” their status, they become less susceptible to this form of depression. Healthy Facebook users understand that they’re not being neglected or ignored by their friends just because their wall wasn’t commented on. Mrs. Hearn said, “I’ve never counseled someone for Facebook depression, but I think students needto understand that there is no need to feel neglected when they log onto Facebook, and they don’t recieve a notification.”

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