Posted by: shineonali | May 8, 2010

Is Facebook Taking Over My Life?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook lately.  When I first signed up, I checked the site about once a week.  Email was still my primary way of communicating with people I didn’t see every day.  Now, I check at least once a day, and it has definitely replaced email as my main way of keeping in touch–even when I want privacy, or communication with just one person, I often use a message in Facebook rather than an email.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  When I first lived overseas, in Japan, I didn’t even have access to a computer.  I became a fabulous letter-writer.  When I returned overseas for a second time a few years later, I hardly ever wrote a regular letter–it was all emails.  Now, I have to force myself write personal emails, and even those have gotten shorter, often along the lines of “Hey, check out the photos I just put on Facebook–here’s the link for non-Facebook members!”

I miss writing and receiving long, newsy emails.  There’s a very personal, deep connection there that is missing when you keep in touch through wall messages and status updates. But I love the little everyday things that I get through Facebook, such as feeling caught up in the excitement about my friend’s daughter’s First Communion, or knowing when old Madrid friends are getting together in the Middle East.  I used to keep up with my cousins via conversations with my mom, but now I “see” them on Facebook, and sometimes I can even add to the stories she tells me about them!  Sure, I also get a lot of trivia about the lives of people who I haven’t hung out with in years, but who cares?  I like knowing what people are up to, what articles they link to, how their lives are.

Sometimes I feel that I am neglecting my friends who don’t use Facebook…it doesn’t matter with friends who live in the same city, because you can see them whenever you want.   But when electronic communication is all you have, it makes a difference.  That’s why I have to remember to dust off the old email account every now and then.

As a teacher, I think about how easy it is for me to get distracted by the social uses of a computer.  I turn on the laptop to do some planning, but end up spending 15 minutes checking email and Facebook before I realize it.  We don’t want our students spending hours and hours in front of a screen, but when the screen is there for work and socializing, it’s hard to set limits.

And then there’s the anxiety you can’t help but feel about privacy.  Certainly my boundaries are starting to widen–I share more and more of my thinking online in this blog.  As for status updates, before I would ask myself, “who cares that I just had a scrumptious Japanese meal?”  Now I just ask myself, “would posting this hurt anybody–including me?” But at the back of my mind, I worry.  Could someone figure out personal information like my address or credit card number by following my “digital footprint”?  Will I accidentally share something about another person that would violate their right to privacy?  Will I forget to check the right boxes in the privacy settings?

Yesterday when I went to check Facebook, a message popped up. 

We notice that you are here a lot.  Would you like to make this your homepage?

It’s like they knew what I was thinking.  Wow.

Number of times I checked Facebook while writing this post: 0

Number of times I thought about checking Facebook while writing this post: 432

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Responses

  1. I have to admit, the more I learn about Facebook and these new changes they’ve just made the more I’m worried about my profile in Facebook. The issue I have is everything seems sneaky to me. I don’t feel like you can see it coming. You click a button and they asume that means you want to be connected to everyone else that “Likes” that page. They don’t ask, they just do……that’s a change in the way we’ve seen the web work in the past and it will be interesting to see how much push back they get from the 400 million users. The issue I see is only those that are paying attention (a.k.a. the geeks) really understand this….the every day user doesn’t have a clue!

    • And how many of us are going to just put up with it because we are reluctant to change now that we’ve set up facebook as our main social network? What a pain!

  2. I love your honesty!

    I don’t like to think about how much time I would have to do other things (write blog posts, plan for school, exercise, SLEEP, etc.) if it wasn’t for Facebook.

    Actually, I’d like to keep a timer on how much time I spend using Facebook during the week. Maybe it will convince me to STAY OFF Facebook. Hm….


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