Thursday, August 22, 2013

Of time and the burdens of internet social media {a confession}

It is no secret that, for the past several years, I have intensely wrestled with the various social networking websites and, well, internet in general. In the summer of 2010, I took a sabbatical trip to Colorado for 11 weeks. The focus was a Bible school in Windsor. I never felt so free, so revived in those 11 weeks that I gave up internet and focused in on living. I mean, really living. It was satisfying. Upon returning home, I was quite vexed over whether or not I should keep my Facebook account. The final decision I made was to delete my old account and create a new one, just building on a new palate. I have so many friends and connections on there that are too valuable to eradicate from my life. I had to consider the fact that some of them were families and contacts that are more easily able to connect via Facebook then phone calls and e-mails. Life gets busy; Facebook is really a genius way to conveniently keep in touch with others.

 So, I sat down and weighed the pros and cons in my mind....

~ Immediate connection with friends and family near and far. Receiving their daily updates and photos.
~ Easy and quick way to share images, links, invitations, and ideas with a friend or multiple people.
~ A fabulous way to follow a favorite artist, photographer, ministry, company, health pages, and the list is never-ending.
~ You can promote your home-business, hobbies, goals, etc.
~ Connect with people in your field of work or interest.
~ Community games and groups. 

~Spending too much time on there. 
~Too much sensory and information. Overwhelming. Our minds were not designed to take in that much information and continue to function normally.
~Facebook collects all your info including all web browsing whether you are logged into the website or not. They save this info into a database which they sell to advertisers and give freely to government authorities, who can request it from Facebook even without your knowledge. You consent to this by agreeing to the Terms of Service. This isn't a conspiracy theory. Facebook freely admits these breaches of privacy.
~ Friends using FB as a dumping ground for very personal things, inappropriate images or links shared by them, and generally not very edifying or encouraging posts. (pro: You could either just be very selective with who you add as friends, whether they are offended or not {con: possible drama, spoken or unspoken. haha!}. Or, you can just edit the settings so you don't receive their status updates.)

But, this was my miserable little cherry on top:

I am an awfully undisciplined person, easily distracted, not always very attentive to the time. Facebook has been a tremendous time-waster for me. This is my shameful confession.


As it is with most things in life, moderation is the key. It is not that Facebook (Pinterest, Instagram, Blogger, Twitter, or any popular website for that matter) is all terrible, or all good. It is useful, but it is also a danger. Unfortunately, for our society, I predict this will come at a great cost. Relationships, communication, the art of conversation, and life as we know has slowly changed with the internet frontier, and will continue to transform. For a text-talking, hash-tagging generation, things are just about to get worse in regards to the formation of our society. Sadly, there is no such things as curbing humanity's drive for excess.

Personally, I have tried to re-focus myself by taking one to two weeks breaks from Facebook every few months. I minimized the amount of updates and information showing up in my newsfeed by un-liking pages that I didn't want to follow anymore, adjusting settings on friends and pages so that I only receive certain updates from them, and eliminating people on my friends list who I never talk to or who do not even log onto their page much anymore.

 But, I fail.
 No amount of self-willed organization, discipline, and elimination keeps from spending more time than I ought on there. This is my real struggle. Unless I find myself in a busy season of life and needing to spend less time on there, somehow I always find myself wandering back. It has made me think seriously about my time. Pick up any biography before or around the early 1900s and you will, most likely, find an accomplished person. Ordinary people like ourselves, but with less distractions and frivolities. Adolescence as we now know it was "invented" around 1900 in the midst of the industrial revolution. The term, teenager, arose in the middle 1900s, and the definition quickly became one who had much leisure time, wasting time and money on various activities. I think, in many subtle ways, these changes were just setting up for the introduction of the internet and smart-phones. In various ways, we are all, directly and indirectly, influenced by these historical changes and inventions and there is no going back. There is no returning to days of yore. But I wonder, aspire, and hope that the accomplishments of old-fashioned youth haven't vanished completely and, for all of us influenced by the modern lifestyle, it is still possible that we could be as well-learned, well-read, well-spoken, and well-practiced individuals. And, just as in the olden days, one didn't have to pursue a PhD to get there. Well-rounded learning, accomplishments, and personal growth was the normal life.

Could it still be?

I am not going to be so bold as to say that the olden days were better and that we must all return to them (but, I must confess, I think that way often. I suffer from "the-grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side"-syndrome). Nevertheless, there is something to be learned in history and the value of remembering and bringing wisdom from our past into the present. Although, it must be done with the consideration of the clearly obvious changes that have come with our modern society. Some things just don't change, no matter how much we advocate for it or grumble about it.

I realize that the main target of my post is Facebook. This all can be said for Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Blogger/Wordpress, and whatever websites are gaining popularity these days. However, I, personally, have not wrestled with this same attachment towards any of those other pages. Well, perhaps, my love for Pinterest has gone a bit far. But, I believe I can honestly say it has brought forth more productivity, inspiration, and encouragement for me than what I've received from Facebook. I somehow find inspiration to do the things I see and learn on Pinterest, which I can rarely say has ever happened in my relationship with Facebook.

Nevertheless, I do believe that there is something incredibly unique about Facebook that does makes it stand strongly above all the rest. It is very uniting. It is all those website rolled into one, although lacking the versatility of personal design and individuality. But, it won't be leaving anytime soon. Its impact on humanity is, I think, more far-reaching and more crucial than we could ever imagine.

I won't say that I will be leaving Facebook anytime soon. Presently, I am living on the Pros of Facebook, although I am doing some serious self-reflection and evaluation about my time and the tendencies of my own personality that are difficult to change.

Contrary to all my former beliefs, I did meet my husband through Facebook. Oh, the irony.
And, it was right at the time when I was weighing whether or not I should give it up entirely. I think God has ways of humbling us that just leave you smiling.

Strong opinions and personal reflections are welcomed on this post. :)


  1. I like what you have to say about the pros and cons of Facebook and social media. You've given a very well-rounded explanation of your views. I personally have felt that my blog and Facebook have been crutches in my life and have hurt me, although I can see this isn't the case for everyone. I think I'm done blogging (have been done with Facebook awhile), have saved my posts and deleted them all off the site. I hope you find what works well for you. I am still happy to read blogs though (including yours), just don't feel like keeping one. :)

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Jade. :) I am sad you left blogging, but I understand and have the up-most respect for your decision. Sometimes, the best way is just to eliminate all those things that hinder us. I may come to that at some future point myself.
      I very much look forward to writing you soon! :) Many blessings!

    2. Thank you so much for understanding. I feel best now reading my treasured blogs and really listening, as well as writing and painting away from my own personal site. It will be so nice to exchange letters! :) <3 <3 Many blessings to you in return.

  2. Ah! I just finished writing a long comment and... it got deleted. Sooo frustrating!!

    Anyway, I definitely can relate to this, Erika! So true. It's hard to keep these social networking sites in check! They do have their pros so you can't just get off all of them completley! Especially when/if you have a freelance business... er!

    So many times I've give thought to telling FB I'd "catch it later" because of all the extra brain clutter and competitiveness it breeds but then because of photography I know it wouldn't be smart. Plus I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with lovely people like you nearly as well! And so it goes on... :) I guess in the end - as you said - much of it comes down to simply needing to learn better time management/self control!

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my blog! It was meaningful as I really do try to capture things just as they are - raw and untouched. :)
    -Rebecca O. {poeticcapture}

  3. I completely agree with you! There are just as many cons as pros to having social media networks. It's harder to control the cons though, like for example, the point you made with spending too much time is definitely a con that is hard to deal with. People have the tendency to spend too much time on their social media networks that they lose too much time that could have been used more productively. I hope more people would read your post and keep those points in mind. Thank you for a great read! :)

    Clwyd Probert

    1. Clywd, thank you so much for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate hearing from others! Social media is certainly a difficult balance with "real life" stuff. I benefit significantly when I take a sabbatical from the internet world. It's something I am still learning and growing in.
      Wishing you well! :)