Oops! I did it again…I deactivated my Facebook once more, last Saturday night. For some time I have had a love/hate relationship with the social media site.
I think the popular Britney Spears’ song could be about Facebook…reread the lyrics..
I think I did it again
I made you believe we’re more than just friends
It might seem like a crush
But it doesn’t mean that I’m serious
‘Cause to lose all my senses
That is just so typically me
Oops, I did it again
I played with your heart, got lost in the game
Oh baby, baby
Oops, you think I’m in love
That I’m sent from above
I’m not that innocent
It was my 20 year high school reunion, that social rite-of-passage when we go back to the place that caused such pain to prove something, that I first learned the popularity of Facebook. I went reluctantly, but eagerly anticipated seeing some old familiar faces, which I did. Interestingly, a lot of the talk went like this:
“Why aren’t you on Facebook?” or
“You’re not on Facebook???” or
“So-and-so is divorced for the second time…I saw it on Facebook!”
At that time my husband was a youth pastor and we knew all about MySpace. He had even had a page, but I just thought it was for teenagers. I had heard of Facebook as well, but again, thought it was just for young teens, not for me. Since it was created in 2004, by the time of my high school reunion, Facebook was already celebrating it’s 5th birthday.
I was curious, but Facebook had been poo-pooed at my workplace. Actually, it was forbidden by my administrator. Me, being the rebel that I am, after the reunion, I created my own profile, just to keep in touch with those high school buddies that lived so far away.
I quickly became obsessed. I loved the fact that I could look at others’ pictures and have a window into their lives, while silently comparing mine. Indeed, a study by Chou and Edge (2012) found that chronic Facebook users tend to think that other people lead happier lives than their own, leading them to feel that life is less fair. In other words, jealousy and envy produce depression and sadness. This is exactly the opposite of how I want to live my life. I want to have the Holy Spirit that produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in my life!
I convinced some of my colleagues that they HAD to get on Facebook to know what was going on. I succeeded with most of them, but not all. I spent far too much time contemplating Facebook. I wanted every post to be quote-worthy and “liked” by others, indicating my value and self-worth, hence my popularity, which had eluded me in high school.
I have never known what it’s like to be addicted to alcohol, cigarettes or coffee, but I have found myself at times ‘addicted’ to Facebook to the point that I’ve neglected other areas of my life.
“The DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) includes a new diagnosis that has stirred controversy: a series of items gauging Internet Addiction,” states Douglas T. Kenrick Ph.D. in his article, 7 Ways Facebook Is Bad for Your Mental Health. “Since then, Facebook addiction has gathered attention from both popular media and empirical journals, leading to the creation of a Facebook addiction scale (Paddock, 2012). To explore the seriousness of this addiction, Hofmann and colleagues (2012) randomly texted participants over the course of a week to ask what they most desired at that particular moment. They found that among their participants, social media use was craved even more than tobacco and alcohol.” More than tobacco and alcohol?!?! This can be serious, don’t you think?
Fast forward to 2015. I’ve now been on FB about six years. Six years. During those 6 years I would like to think that I’ve had a positive effect on others and their lives. I’ve had many encourage me in so many ways with private messages and public comments. I also know that during that same time, there have been periods where FB has had a negative effect on my life. It is an invisible negative effect that goes on mentally and spiritually in my mind. If I want to change that effect, I have to let God transform me by changing the way I think (Romans 12:2). That requires me to take some action.
In the past I have tried several ways to limit my use of Facebook. I deleted the app off my phone, making it more difficult to log on. I deleted the messenger app. I turned off all notifications. I have told myself that I will only log on during certain hours. All of these methods really only proved to me that I do have a problem.
Which brings me to the value of the deactivate button. While it’s true you can never really delete your account (it will still always be lurking beneath the surface), you can deactivate it, which is similar. All of your posts, pictures, etc. will just “POOF”..disappear magically, like you never existed. When I first deactivated my account, Facebook kept asking me, “Are you sure?” Now, when you deactivate, though, you have to select a reason. Here are the choices:
- I don’t find Facebook useful.
- I don’t feel safe on Facebook.
- This is temporary. I’ll be back.
- I have a privacy concern.
- I don’t understand how to use Facebook.
- My account was hacked.
- I have another Facebook account.
- I spend too much time using Facebook.
- I get too many emails, invitations, and requests from Facebook.
I wonder if Facebook doesn’t want to face that truth that sometimes deactivating is best for a person’s mental health? Oh, and there’s also a drop-down window where you can choose a date to automatically activate your account. I’m assuming this is for someone who wants it off during vacation, maybe they are ‘fasting’ from Facebook, etc.
So, for now, I have deactivated…again. I wish I could just use social media for what it is intended for in its purest form…to interact with actual friends and relatives that are not physically close, to keep in touch. Yet, I find that I rarely interact with those people, and often interact on-line with the people I see frequently, at work, at church, etc. Why is that? Maybe it’s just me…but I’m curious…look at your messages/your comments/your ‘likes’ and do you do more with people you’re around daily, or those that you rarely see in real life?
Facebook is not the only social media site in the world. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Google+, LinkedIn, tumblr, Vine, and flickr and just a few of the more popular ones. Social media is not going away, but I am. I’ll let you know when I return.
What about you? Do you have any issues with Facebook or other social media? How do you handle it?