A while back I realized that many of my local friendships were starting to slide away from me. It never occurred to me that this would happen because I am the quintessential social butterfly, but I had fallen into the same social media trap I warned others about in the past. I was using Facebook as a replacement for personal phone calls or visits with friends that live just a few miles away from me.
You start Liking a picture or commenting on a post and the next thing you know you’re saying to them, “Hey! Why didn’t you come to my party?! IT WAS ALL OVER FACEBOOK!! AREN’T WE FRIENDS ANYMORE?!!”
I started calling this phenomenon, the Numbing of Facebook.
I Googled the question, “Has Facebook replaced real friendships?” and the number of articles that popped up was astounding! About 6,030,000 results (0.27 seconds)! That’s quite a few people talking about something related to this same subject. I’ll link to some of the links that I found intriguing.
From the Ted conversation archives I found this comment to be spot on! Here is a bit of it, but I suggest following the Ted link here to read the whole thing.
“I am getting rid of my facebook after May anyhow, and just going to twitter. I do not like how everyone’s friendship is turning into a facebook status! If I am not your friend on facebook, then I am not your friend in real life? When did that become the standard? What is going on here? This is nuts! And so so sad.”
There is also the 10 Signs Social Media Has Replaced Your Real Life Relationships. This one is definitely an eye opener with number 3 being, “Even when you’re with others, you find yourself planning what you are going to post as soon as you have a moment.” Guilty!!!
Psychology Today has even chimed in with Is Facebook Destroying Friendship. This article talks about everything from the dreaded FCD, Friend Collector Disorder, to how much time we average on this social media platform. It was kind of scary.
“It’s estimated that the average American spends about 37 minutes on social media each day(link is external). That’s a full day each month spent cultivating relationships in front of a screen. Cumulatively, Americans spend 115 billion minutes each month on Facebook. Just Americans. Just Facebook.”
I have even seriously discussed a physical ailment that is happening to teenagers. My neck had been bothering me and a friend suggested I might be developing a new spinal injury. People everywhere are now developing what is called “text neck” on their necks. This is usually a debilitation and breakdown of the upper spinal area. We wouldn’t normally experience this kind of spinal injury until our golden years. I’m not kidding!
“I believe, as some studies suggest, text neck may lead to the early onset of arthritis and the potential for decreased lung capacity. Of course, text neck does not occur only from texting. For years, we’ve all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down more than in the past. This is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their spines as they grow.”
My own research proves that the repeated use of social media for reasons of being social can become a trap in ways you could never imagine. Which is why I intend to streamline my presence and use social media to continue being a large part of my friend’s lives that live far away from me, but spend more time in person with my local friends.
I’m hoping this will be a smooth transition, but you never know how this will turn out until you’re knee deep into it. You feel like you need to make some kind of a change in your routine so it encourages you to interact with friends in a real kind of a way, but to even begin that process is daunting, considering my history with trying this in the past. The anxiety level of making any changes whatsoever to your friend list can be astronomical.
I know this from experience. Once I deleted someone I thought was a friend after telling her that I wanted to take our friendship off of Facebook. She was on board, until the day I deleted her. Then she went on the attack and executed a full blown narcissistic smear campaign that blew my mind. Suffice it to say, we aren’t friends anymore, real or Facebooky, and I’m totally okay with that now.
These days I have stronger personal boundaries and I found a new way of viewing and experiencing stuff like this. If I make an honest and genuine effort to break the Facebook habit, and my local friend thinks it’s a personal attack on them, then I either haven’t been clear about my intentions, or they stopped being a real friend a long time ago.
My mission is to make more of an effort to be present with my local friends this year and to keep Facebook for something it was intended for as far as I’m concerned. Facebook for me is a way to keep in touch and engaged with friends I can’t drive a few miles to see. I love seeing the pictures and I love reading the local updates. On one hand, that is something I feel I’ll miss out on, however if I am true to my mission, I won’t miss out on anything because I’ll get to be there when it happens, or see the pictures later over dinner.
I know this works because I have a friend that was one of my constant companions online with Facebook. About three years ago she decided to delete her account. I missed her online! But she and I see each other three or four times a month now and catch up on all of our news over girl’s dinner. Her husband and mine are also great friends, so we plan date nights for the four of us and celebrate the major events in all of our lives together.
Think about that for a moment! Instead of turning your computer on to see if your local friends are still alive out there, how about just calling them on the phone? Or going by for a coffee? Where I live it takes only minutes to connect with someone. When I lived in Texas, I had to drive 45 minutes in either direction just to see my friends! Most of them didn’t do Facebook then and they don’t do it much now either, so I call and check in with them about once a month.
For anyone reading this that comes to the conclusion that I have spent way too much time thinking about this, you might be right. However the time I spent thinking about this was productive and has led me to a conclusion I think will benefit me and my friends in the long term. If you’re of the mind that “it’s just Facebook” then that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to devalue anything I’ve written here if it falls into your Silly Category. Though I hope you click the links I provided and do your own research.
Right now, it’s just a social experiment and hopefully it’s one that will greatly improve my mood when I’m home. Before there was Facebook I had a more active social life at home. I plan on getting back to that this year. See ya out there in the real world!