Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Not Me...It's YOU

Courtesy Google Images
It's not me, Facebook...It's you.

Yesterday, Facebook rolled out a series of major changes about which users immediately started screaming.

First, let me address the fact that I know this is a free service and I understand that when you are using a free service, you aren't really in a position to make demands. But people have pretty intimate relationships with their Facebook pages these days. I don't know many people who aren't on Facebook. When my oldest son was asked in one of his college courses how many people in the class were on Facebook, only he and one other person raised their hands to say they weren't on Facebook. That's a pretty significant minority we're talking about.

I read today that 750,000,000 people - that's right - 750 million people are on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank. I picture the Facebook office as a Dilbert type of world where computer geeks sit in cubicles and talk back and forth all day long about how they can change Facebook to make it less and less easy for the users to comprehend. Just when we get used to one set of changes, they roll out some more. I have a feeling that they were all laughing pretty hard at the screaming that was going on yesterday when that Twitter-like, privacy invading "ticker" showed up at the top right hand corner, causing all of us ordinary people to scream and sign out because our poor, technology overloaded brains simply couldn't handle a rolling status update as we tried to find our feed and read what our friends had to say.

Oh and now Facebook is deciding for you who you are going to interact with on your page, based on who you've been interacting with the most. So I'm guessing that means that for those of us who are not very computer savvy or technological, we will only see what Facebook wants us to see because we can't figure out how to change the settings to allow us to see all of our friends' updates.

But here's the thing though. Facebook did me a huge favor yesterday by changing the site so completely as to send my brain into complete overload and outrage. It also woke me up, like somebody had slapped me, to the fact that I am a Facebook addict.

Isn't the first step in that 12-step program admitting you have a problem? I'll say it again:

I have a problem with Facebook.

In that, I am totally addicted to Facebook.

The old Facebook.

This new animal is something I can't even begin to fathom. I feel as if someone stole my credit card and used it for the luxury trip to Hawaii that I have always wanted to take. I actually feel violated by the assumptions that Facebook is making about how I want to interact on their site.

And I'm not buying it.

So, here's the deal.

I have spent way too much of my precious time in the last two or more years checking my Facebook feed. When I discovered that a friend just left her feed open all day, I was vaulted even higher into the stratosphere and started to leave my feed up all day long. I would jump back and forth between Facebook and whatever else I was doing on the computer. I would sign out, only to sign back in. I started playing Words with Friends, which is an insecure application where you have to agree that anyone can access your Facebook information anytime they want, if you don't find the settings that won't allow anyone to access your information. Even then, there are limits to how much you can restrict their access. I was giving my phone number out, texting, and talking to people I've never met in person. And started to neglect my actual, real life relationships.

Oh, it's just so easy to get sucked into Facebook. Especially if you have an addictive personality, which I readily admit I do. I justified all of this non-writing related Facebook activity by telling myself and everyone else around me that I was using it to promote my writing. Which was true. Except when I wasn't using it to promote my writing, which was most of the time.

I read at some point about a woman who had her children taken away from her because she couldn't stop playing Farmville long enough to attend to their needs. At the time, I thought oh my God, how on earth could she be so addicted to a computer game that she wouldn't even stop to change her kid's diaper or feed him?

Suddenly, I'm understanding it a little bit better. Thank God all of my kids are older, because there, but for the grace of God, go I.

So, today, I am saying no to you Facebook. I am tired of you ruling my life. I am tired of all of my human interaction being through the computer. And I am tired of staring at my computer screen every minute that I'm awake.

Thank you, Facebook, so much for making such huge changes that I snapped awake and realized that I was neglecting to come to dinner (which most of the time Justin is making - like 99%), telling my kids I couldn't do things with them because I was playing your addictive games, and ignoring my real life relationships in favor of cyber people whom I've never even met.

I can appreciate that people with disabilities (and I am one of them) might have limited access to social interaction. And that sometimes you can meet social interaction needs by using social media. But somewhere in the back of my brain is that study they did with those cute little baby monkeys where they replaced their real mamas with a cloth doll and how those poor little monkeys had no idea how to interact with other real monkeys after not too much time had passed.

I was becoming one of those monkeys. But you, Facebook, have snapped me out of my hypnotic trance and made me fall out of love with you. I am breaking up with you Facebook. And I suspect that my life is going to be more full of rewarding experiences that I can write about than it was just on Tuesday, before you decided to completely change your interface.

Yes, you can still "like" me on Facebook, or any of the other places you see that you can click on. And hopefully if you have "liked" me, Facebook will not decide to stop letting you read what I post. But if it does, I think I can live with that. Because what I'm going to do now, instead of signing in to my Facebook feed to make sure my blog entry has posted and getting caught up in the world that time forgot, is change the laundry, finish sweeping the floor, and maybe take a nap. Or read a book. Or watch a movie. Or have a conversation with a real, live person. Remember those?



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