Why I’m Taking a Break from Facebook….

***March 16th Update–I’ve really been thankful for this break from Facebook. I honestly did not miss it (which surprised me) except for the group of long-distance friendships that I have no contact with apart from Facebook. So–for that reason I’m partially reactivating. But–I’m keeping all the notifications deactivated so that I can choose when I want to look up specific people, not have a constant stream of emails/comments to process. It has been so good for me to take this break and aside from those who don’t blog and live far away–I don’t think I’d return at all. I don’t plan to return to Facebook as a major means of communication though. I’ve enjoyed the face-to-face time, phone calls, emails and blogging contacts that have flourished once Facebook was removed. All that to say–I plan to stick with those options for the most part. If you ever find yourself struggling with Facebook concerns, I’d encourage you to take a break–take a month or so off and enjoy the breath of fresh air and renewed perspective.

From February 7th–

First…let me start off by saying that I genuinely enjoy Facebook….

When I was little my Grams would periodically send me letters with a piece of gum inside…I vividly remember the excitement of opening “my mail” …probably the same reason we have a full industrial mailbox panel hanging in our kitchen. What kid doesn’t love getting mail?

And Facebook has a very similar effect on me…it’s fun to read comments left by others and to connect with people I can’t see on a regular basis. I love being able to quickly know of concerns when friends are facing sickness or scary circumstances…it provides a way to quickly know needs and a way to reach out in love.

I also love the way Facebook keeps me connected to friends from my past and family members that live far off. It makes all of them feel closer and they know our family in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

And I’m not deactivating from Facebook for some of the most obvious reasons that I could and should give.
Notice I wrote “deactivating”…because my resolve has already wavered from truly closing my account (aside from the fact that it took forever in their “help” section to even figure out how to deactivate).

It’s not so much the “time wasted” issue. Though that is a genuine issue…

I’d probably be considered a very moderate Facebook user…I share an account with my hubby…I update my status maybe 3 times a week. It’s easy and fast for me to check Facebook…I can literally check for updates while I dust the computer screen. And in all honesty, I can find a zillion other ways to squander time even if I’m not on Facebook.

But–I don’t like it that when our kids can’t find me, they come look in our computer room. And I don’t like it that in the last video we have of our daughter before she died, my husband is playing chase with the kiddos while I am typing at the computer.

And if I were an employer, I would block Facebook access (if that’s even possible) considering that the average user checks Facebook 4 to 10 times a day (which is only the number of times they are willing to admit to). I’m skirting that whole issue–of how I answer to God and my husband and my kids in my current “employment position”.

It isn’t so much my aversion to media either.

Yes–I tend to want the kids outside playing in the fresh air (see Nature Deficit Disorder post) versus inside playing video games. And it’s hard to push for that if they see me spending much time on the phone/computer/ipad/ipod/laptop. And yes–I did wait to get a cell phone until Jason gave me one as a gift (and I ended up loving it). And texting was new to me as of last spring (though now I use it daily). And right now I am typing on a laptop while watching The Office while my husband sits on the couch next to me typing on his laptop because he has to work late tonight.

And in all honesty–I think Facebook is probably unavoidable in the long run. And a lot of good can even come from it. I do believe that.

But I’m taking a break from Facebook because I need to sort out my feelings about “The Wall”.

If I could get rid of “The Wall”…it would be much easier for me to rationalize Facebook…not being sarcastic here…maybe I should say…it would be much easier for me to see Facebook as a means for good.

Picture this: in an effort to connect the student body, a local middle school suggests the idea of posting a large billboard in the cafeteria where the students can post comments and photos of who they’re inviting over next Friday night, or the latest pictures from an exclusive birthday party, their excellent report card, or even just sweet comments to their top ten best friends.

Almost no one would think that was a good idea.

Why? Because–when publicly broadcast in that sort format–it would have the reverse effect.

Probably more hurtful than helpful.

And recently I’ve wondered if the Facebook “Wall” has the same effect in some circles.

I mean–in all honesty–are women age 25-35 (the highest percentage of users statistically)–immune to feeling left out? I see the way even adults cringe when they can’t find someone to sit by that they know…reminds me of back in the middle school lunch room.

Now–some will read this and have no clue what I’m talking about…they rarely log onto Facebook, have a small number of close friends or even a large number of distant friends.

But in a small social circle where a high percentage of Facebook users know each other…I’ve recently become aware of the hurt that “The Wall” can cause. And I have to stop and wonder–if it has that effect on adults–how must it also effect all of the middle school and high school Facebook users.

And the problem is–“The Wall” is unavoidable.

With a blog–readers can choose or choose not to visit. With an email–the information (hopefully) goes to the intended audience. But with Facebook–pretty much the minute anyone writes anything anywhere….it goes up on “The Wall”…which is the first thing that also pops up in front of your face when you log on.

I took a moment to think back over some of my Facebook comments this past year. For the most part, most of them should’ve, or at least could’ve, been personal email messages. There was no reason for the whole world to see my “enjoyed coffee with you today” comment or “looking forward to hanging out tomorrow” comment or “thank you for the sweet meal” comment or “our kids just enjoy your kids so much” comment…

For those with a lonely heart….or really just for almost anyone out there in the same social circle…a public reminder of what they missed out on–without the opportunity to avoid knowing about it (which is the part that concerns me)….because every post, unless intentionally private, is overtly public.

And I’ve discovered through dialogue, that even when Facebook users don’t consider themselves very active (meaning they don’t post much), they still tend to check in for updates on others. It’s difficult not to. It’s interesting. And it’s easy. It’s like reading People Magazine all about people you actually know.

The first thing that shows up when you log into Facebook is “The Wall”…with every recent comment that every person you know has ever made to any other person you may or may not know. I’m just not convinced that is healthy.

Now– in an effort to be gracious to myself (which I like to be :) ….half the time I posted things, I wasn’t even aware they would show up on “The Wall”. That’s how technically savvy I am.

But–now that I’m aware of the effect that postings can have–I need to sort through a few questions before I’m ready to participate in the Facebook world again.

#1) Why do I need to post something publicly? (and I do believe there are legitimate reasons for public postings).

#2) Am I willing to weigh my words and think about the possible effects? (do I need to cite all the biblical verses that support this question?)

#3) Do the positives outweigh the negatives when considering all the other pros and cons of Facebook (you know–those “other” issues that I tried to avoid in this post, but that really are unavoidable)?

But for now–the irony is–I’m going to post this to Facebook and then…

I’m putting myself into “Facebook time-out” :)

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  1. Thanks, Kara, for this.

  2. I really really appreciate your thoughts on this… Thanks for sharing them!


  3. Great post, Kara. It’s really convicting me to look at my motivation while using FB as well. Loved the mailbox-in-the-kitchen idea. :)

  4. Totally agree. And one of the many reasons I’m getting off. :)

  5. Hi, I don’t know you- I came from a link on Molly Piper’s blog because I saw you’d lost a child. Do you mind if I link to this? I’ve been trying for MONTHS to figure out why I shrink back from Facebook (while still checking it several times a day), and for me, your comment about you being on the computer in a video before your daughter died is just exactly why I need less distraction, not more. It’s not the “fault” of facebook- it’s my problem. But no more- I’m deactivating- thanks for the well thought out post!

  6. Brite…you are very welcome to link to the post. I’ve actually really enjoyed being off Facebook the last couple of weeks (which surprised me). I thought it would be a battle not to return because there are things I really enjoy about it…but it has been a blessing to be more “here” with our kiddos and to at least remove one distraction. Take care, Kara

  7. hello, (you don’t know me, i found your blog from a holy experience,) your blog title caught my eye, i appreciate this post about fb…i never really thought about these things and am thankful for your thoughts.

  8. I’ve thought of these very same things. . I have a love/hate relationship with fb. .in total agreement about when the kids find me on the computer. . what example is that for them?
    I may deactivate too.
    Thanks for this post.
    I found your link from Holy Experience. :)

  9. Marybtanck says:

    I know this post is a year old, but I just found it today. I gave up Facebook for Lent and I feel ever so free! lol. I like what you said about the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I have been griping about people doing that for years but I’ve never stumbled on anyone blogging about it. I’m glad someone else sees how tacky it is. When I was in school (I’m 33), we weren’t allowed to bring party invitations to school if we didn’t invite the whole class – which seemed very reasonable to me – so I don’t understand why it’s okay now to broadcast to the whole world that you had a party and I wasn’t invited. Even at this age, it can be hurtful; I can’t even imagine having had to navigate high school and junior high in the age of Facebook. Thank you for a great post. Mary

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