Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Life Without Social: 60+ days of Facebook Rehab

I resisted social media for several years until I was told about Facebook back in 2007. I did not know of it because I did not pay attention to it, the internet was never something that I cared about outside of online gambling and ESPN. It was that day in Milwaukee where I discovered a soon to be an addiction of my life. I learned two things that rainy Saturday afternoon, 1) Brother Pete told me about some strange website called “Facebook” and 2) Brother Pete was worse at golf that even me! When I arrived home from my trip, I joined and my wife soon followed my lead. That choice began a spiral of out of control social media that took over my daily life, took over my marriage and made me much less interesting that I was prior to Facebook (debatable and not confirmed by any source other than me).

I am still a big fan of the space as I am a stockholder in the company and I will continue to be one for a long, long time. I write this as someone decided to have a life cleanse of Facebook, forced to live life without social media, without knowing when my “friends” were on the potty and with the interaction of my wife and child. Yes, I still have Twitter but I find Twitter to be a place where news happens fast --- You don’t need CNN if you have Twitter and follow the CNN handle just like you don’t need to watch the NFL draft because you have Twitter. I am thinking that maybe after my 60 days without Facebook, I'll try to live without Twitter as well, or I'll rejoin Facebook and quit Twitter - not sure.

My Facebook blackout began on January 6th, 2014. In an effort for full disclosure, I did rejoin for a few moments a week ago to follow up with up with my fraternity about the closing of our undergraduate chapter. After posting my contact information, I quickly deactivated my account. During those five or six minutes, I had two people contact me…”Why are you not on Facebook?” I responded, “Life Cleanse” and then deactivated my account.

The deactivation process is amusing as it shows captions of “friends” telling me how they will miss me. “Don’t go Dan!” Alex says. “You won’t know my daily update on my potty habits,” says Chris! Some have noticed, while others were surprised. The other day I contacted a former co-worker who serves as a professional reference via text to tell him that he may get a call regarding my background in the near future. His response,”I didn’t know what was going on since you defriended me on Facebook!” No, I responded, “I defriended Facebook, not just you!”
My own sister sent me a text message, “OMG why are you not on Facebook? What is going on? Are you okay? Cousin Cindy is trying to get a hold of you and cannot…she’s worried. I replied, “Life Cleanse! Have her text me, give her my phone number!”

That interaction got me thinking, when we all became part of this life that social media ran our lives and we forgot how a phone worked. Even sending a text message, at times, is the preferred way to communicate within most families. I always call my parents because it takes my Mom about an hour to send a text message consisting of the words, “Dinner at 6?” My Dad doesn’t answer the phone and doesn’t understand his fancy Galaxy S3. The last time I saw him, I took his phone and showed him the 5 or 6 text messages that I sent him. I laughed and he responds, “Don’t put it on Facebook!” I respond, “I’m not on Facebook, life cleanse, whatever that means!”

I have found that life without Facebook is difficult when it comes to doing things I did on a daily basis, like commenting on articles on websites like ESPN. I cannot be a contributor as Disney wants me to log into Facebook in order to comment and as soon as I log in, I am again, a member of Facebook – reactivated into the life that I am trying to “cleanse” myself. You are a genius Mr. Zuckerberg and I will continue to keep your stock as it grows into the next great technology company but why do you have to force me to log into your website to comment on ESPN or that Mickey Mouse’s fault?

My wife told me I had a Facebook problem a LONG TIME AGO and I did not think it was much of a problem. I probably knew there was a problem either ignored or did not care. I posted so much that several people have either defriended me because I was “flooding their newsfeed” or have blocked me so I no longer show up in their newsfeed I was mostly found annoying during football games, "10 posts", My friend Mike found it funny to post on my wall the number of posts on my wall for that day, ”20 posts in a matter of 3 hours – I think you need to go to Facebook Rehab!” My wife, Laura, finds being without Facebook much easier that I did or still do, I’m not sure…”You don’t need it, she says as she plays a word on one of our multiple words with Friends games, another company Zynga that started becoming popular because of…well…FACEBOOK!

I am finding that living is different without Facebook, it really did become part of my daily existence. I have noticed I spend more time on Twitter now that ever so I really did replace my Facebook addiction with a new media addiction but one thing at a time. I have noticed that my wife handled it a little better than I especially at first but now I am constantly shown pictures from Pinterest, rather than Facebook - so I guess she is replacing her need for it as well. I feel less connected to the world.

Our lives as a nation have become entrenched in social media, even advertisers are finding Facebook to be the forum of choice so much so that "Social Media Coordinator" is a recent job submit of mine. Seriously, this is a perfect position for me, a social media addict ----> "Must be comfortable with the content and functionality of major social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram" - It is like the company wrote a profile about ME!

While my thoughts are completely random, this is really how Facebook has made our lives…”Heading to the mall, need to buy a new pair of shoes, maybe some gloves”…or “Say a prayer for me as I try to find another job!” Facebook certainly can be a place of heartwarming or encouragement but most of the time, we find ourselves just posting about a TV show, “OMG Scandal is the best TV show EVER!” or in some cases, just complaining about the choices of our coaches.

I have lots of continual thoughts and will certainly share more as the month goes on.


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