I think I'm not alone when I say, Facebook has become an overwhelming presence in our lives. Nowadays, a "relationship" between two people is then taken seriously once it's pronounced "Facebook Official"... We have "friends" on Facebook, yet we don't even speak to them when we pass them in the street of our local towns. We have people who are, in essence, total strangers, yet we have them on Facebook as we share similar lifestyles, or interests, or are just likeminded in general. It's a fickle, funny place isn't it? Can you remember what life was like before it? The days when you weren't mentally planning your next witty status in your head, or announcing something funny your child did that day, or reading about what the girl who sat behind you in 8th Grade English class was now doing with her life?
I tried a few months back to go a week without Facebook. I lasted a lowly 3 days before it got the better of me, and I reactivated my account. Yet I am starting to find it a great sap of my time, however for now I feel that I do rely on my Facebook and need it for a few reasons.
First of all, I'm using it to share my blog to a wider audience (Kudos to you, lovely readers!) If I didn't have Facebook, I'd be writing to only a very scarce amount of readers (perhaps even only myself!) and really - it's the idea of having my blog read that really motivates me to write it.
Second of all, I love the networking I do on there. I have my "crafty friends" whom I share a passion for sewing, art and crocheting and the like with. I have my "nappy friends" - whom generally more often than not tend to share similar parenting values, environmental values and some aspects of the craftiness angles like myself also. I have some friends I do see "in real life" whom we also interact over Facebook too, and I have my "far away friends" whom I have collected throughout the "gypsy years" I mentioned in a previous blog post.
If I was to remove Facebook from my life at this stage, I think I would feel too strongly the need for social interaction, acknowledgement, and praise that it currently produces for me. I've done a great deal of writing by a philosopher called Abraham H. Maslow - Abraham Maslow - who breaks down in an understandable manner the hierarchy of our needs as human beings. His theory essentially states that we have tiers of needs, and that once each need tier is being met, the tier above it is the need that is felt ie. so long as one of our need categories is being met, we are not conscious or aware of the need existing as its being satiated, and hence the next need in the hierarchy stands out more and we feel it amplified.
For me, my circumstances are as such: My physiological and safety needs are being adequately met with ease. I am fed, I am clothed, I am warm, I am sheltered... I do not feel like I am at risk of losing my house, my lifestyle, my possessions. I am comfortable living within my means financially, and I feel like I am providing appropriately for my children.
So for me, the next 2 tiers are the needs I feel the strongest: my "belonging" needs, and my "esteem" needs. This is where I feel Facebook is contributing to fulfilling these needs.
The networks I am a part of on Facebook are in the forms of "online communities" or "groups/pages" - where I feel I can be a part of likeminded people. I take comfort in sharing advice, reading other people's experiences, taking and giving along the way. In my "real life", however, I am not very active in social circles, organisations or groups. I attend our local playgroup once a week, and will occasionally meet up with a friend or 2 during the week or at a weekend, but that's about it. Some days the extent of my social interaction outside my children is a phonecall to my parents and/or a friend, or even so little as a brief chat with the lady at the post office when I collect my mail.
The other need I feel Facebook is aiding to fulfil at the moment is the esteem need. I get a sense of pride, or accomplishment, even an air of respect, out of being acknowledged on Facebook. We all feel a little bit chuffed when people "like" our status, or comment on how nice a profile picture is, or agree with the sentiment a post we make may have. I feel confident in my presence on Facebook. I feel capable, and learned, and feel warmth when I am able to help someone, or make someone smile, or simply entertain them with a witty quip.
So here I consider - where would I be without my Facebook? How would I replicate what I am getting out of it into my "real life". One of the pros Facebook has going for it is its convenience factor. I can fit a brief 5-10 minute "whip around Facebook" in between feeds, or nappy changes, or playtimes, or housework. I can't whisk down to a local art class in dribs and drabs, or have a 5 minute chat and chuckle with a friend who is actually at work. Also coming from a semi-rural area, there isn't a heck of a lot of community groups or circles I could become a part of, especially those that accommodate the 2 children I would have to drag along with me.
However I have decided I am going to try to fill these social voids with real life rather than web-based content. I am discussing starting a craft circle with local friends. I intend on finding out more about what is out there in my local area, and if there's not something where I think there might be a calling for it - I might even be super pro-active and start something myself! Because the price you pay for the enjoyment you get out of your Facebook is all the mindless, stupidifying, unnecessary "crap" that comes with it. And I'm not sure if that trade-off is worth it anymore.
If I do end up finding myself in a place where the real life, living, breathing world meets the needs I currently use Facebook as a crutch for, I can see myself eventually closing my Facebook account and becoming a much more involved and "present" person. However if I did so prematurely, I can also see my needs resulting in a greater deficit and thus my feeling - yearning - to have these needs filled all the moreso. So for now, as much as Facebook frustrates me, annoys me, and wastes so much of my time - I'm sticking around!
And on that note - Goodnight, Dear Face-Spacers and Bloggy-Buddies :)