How Facebook Changed My Life
I have been thinking about Facebook and the impact it has on my life for a while now. And some conversations and articles made me even more aware of it. The first few years I didn't really think about it. I just joined the network somewhere in 2007 or 2008 and started sending and accepting friend requests, posting stuff without much thought and didn't even think that it was a part of my life.
I still remember using msn messenger to talk to a lot of friends at that time, because Facebook messenger didn't exist yet.
Msn was there for a long time and I had a lot of good chats with my friends through that medium. I can think of a lot of moments that I sat at my computer screen laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes.
But then Facebook messenger came and slowly took over and msn wasn't used anymore. There was a serious shift in how I used to socialize with people online.
I immediately felt that Facebook messenger or other chat apps for that matter just didn't bring on the same vibe that MSN messenger had. And as a result I started having less random and fun conversations online.
But that was not all, Facebook itself had changed so much over the years and more and more people I once knew were on it and ended up in my friends list. Because I thought it was nice to maybe get back in touch again. Or easier to keep in touch.
All those thoughts about keeping or getting in touch were so wrong… If I look back now I feel even more estranged from some people than I did before.
If they are in my Facebook friends list and I never hear from them but constantly see their updates, its like a constant reminder of how we grew apart. Especially if that person was someone you'd hang out with a lot, for a long time.
And then you think: "I should get back in touch and maybe ask if they wanna hang out again". But that doesn't always go very well. Sometimes it does and its like you regained your friendship. Other times it's just a cold hard realization that you grew apart and have very different lives and one side just isn't that interested in hanging out anymore. Even though there was a time that you were very good friends.
Its normal that these friendships shift during our lives, but the way we are confronted with that is very different since social media took over.
Not everyone experienced the rise of social media this way of course. But I think if you did you'll get what I am talking about.
So what else changed?
Friendships have changed. Facebook had a serious impact on how we use the word friendship. I always took friendship pretty serious. Because I never had too many friends in life, I still don't.
Who do you call a "friend"?
For me the definition of a friend is someone who I can have fun with, but also serious talks… Someone that knows me and I know them or at least a part of them. They are no total strangers or mere acquaintances. They are there for you when you need them, even if it's not physically possible. And of course this works the other way around too. A friend is someone that wants the best for you and you for them. Because you want to see them happy. But most of all it doesn't feel forced when you hang out with them. There's just something so natural about hanging out with them.
So maybe that all sounds very idealistic and I am living in a dreamworld with unicorns and rainbows… if so well then I guess I will never feel good about friendships and become a crazy cat-lady…
The false sense of contact
I heard other people talking about it and it made me realize, that for me this is sometimes true as well. If you see certain updates on Facebook from your friends, you'll get a feeling that you already know how they're doing. And that sometimes I don't feel the need to ask them how they are doing. Because I more or less think I already know. A few years ago I would've probably asked if they wanted to talk about it and maybe had a good meaningful chat. But now I just seem to make myself miss out on those. Because I have this false sense of contact.
I became addicted
Many of us became addicted without even knowing it. The moment I started realizing this was when I had a browser tab with Facebook and after a few tabs I wanted to look something up but I just started typing Facebook again. Even though I wanted to do something else. And there was already a tab open for Facebook!
That's not the only thing I started noticing of course. But I felt a need to read updates, hoping there was anything interesting going on and wanting to be the with the first to know about it.
I check my Facebook way too much for it to be healthy! Basically every time I get bored I suddenly find myself checking Facebook again. And the sad part is that there isn't even anything to see. It's only very occasionally that someone I know posts something so wonderful that it cannot wait.
I got a lot more satisfaction from personal talks with friends than from this whole posts and comments and likes bullshit that has been going on for quite a while know.
The whole culture that has evolved around it just stresses me. I constantly want something from it that just isn't there. And even though I know it, I still get drawn to it. I guess that is what the addiction is about.
All the time I have spend glaring at Facebook is time I can never get back. And I think it's time to stop wasting precious time on a network that cannot provide the actual social interaction I need.
So what do you need?
What I need might be completely different from what you need of course. But it's important to take a moment and realize what you need.
I for one miss the habit of meeting my friends in a local bar every Friday or Saturday. And I miss the kind of conversations we had before everyone had a smartphone… Now when a silence hits, we immediately grab our phones. So it's not all Facebook of course.
And I am as guilty as anyone…
When take time to think about all of it, my smartphone and Facebook start feeling like the old ball and chain… And I really want to break out of it! I wanna be more spontaneous and open again to people.
Maybe that's also why I love board game nights. It's analog, just plain fun by gathering a few people around a table and having the most random conversations.
I definitely need more of that in my life! Because I am a people person, so I feel best when I can just hangout with friends.
The addiction can only be beaten if I stop grabbing my smartphone so much and maybe leave it at home every now and then. And maybe deleting my Facebook account is also not a bad idea. It might be so that I will have less or no contact with some people. But who knows, maybe I'll meet people I'd normally wouldn't because of the impact it has on me.