The Facebook Phenomenon

Remember Myspace?

You know…with the flashy backgrounds and the glittery “YOUR SPACE IS AWESOME” comments and the “SURPRISE MY MUSIC SUCKS” playing through your computer speakers?

Right, well, when Myspace first became all the rage, I ignored it. I mean, I wasn’t a 13 year old girl who dreamed of having a unicorn-themed website where all my friends could come by and OMG me to death.

My Father-In-Law, Walt, has been on the internet since before the internet was cool. (Seriously–he’ll tell you all about it on his blog, The Lucky Puppy.) So naturally, he fell in line with the masses and whipped himself up a Myspace page. And then, the recruiting began.

Phone call: “Hey, Abby, you should get a Myspace Page!!! 
Then we could message each other all the time!!”
Email: “Dear Abby, Have you looked at Myspace yet? DO IT!”
Text Message: “RU on Myspace YET?”
Sky writer: “MYSPACE ME ABBY?”
Finally, I caved in. Created a Myspace profile. Added my pictures and my info and a pink background and whatnot.
And discovered blogging.
A couple of years later, the word “Facebook” crept up in the news.  “Oh boy,” I thought. “Another social media website that I’m going to get sucked into.”
I didn’t wait for the barrage of messages from my tech-savvy FIL, I just jumped in with both feet…..
And immediately became obsessed.
I stayed online for HOURS, updating my profile, loading pictures, and stalking my friends.  I spent more hours looking for people I went to elementary, middle, high school with. People I’d known from summer jobs and internships. People who knew people I knew from way back when. Friend requests, status updates, quizzes that told me my aura was blue, not orange. I reconnected with friends I thought I’d lost forever, people who I consider some of my best friends today. AWESOME.  I think it’s pretty plain, between you and me, how I felt about Facebook versus Myspace:
Then I found the GAMES! Oh, Lordy, the games. I was particularly fond of Farmville. I spent so much of my free time planting cotton, harvesting wheat, and watering flowers that I could’ve qualified for my own piece of property in Idaho. The sending of gifts, the asking for nails and buckets and crap to build horse stables with, the visiting my neighbor’s farms to gain experience—it was all-consuming. But I kept at it…because of my affinity for the little ducks.
Then came the “dark period” of 2009. B and I had been trying to have a baby, again, and were unsuccessful, again. I was in the depths of despair, and turned even more free time to the internet. What time wasn’t spent on Facebook was spent researching infertility, weight loss techniques, and adoption. And then, the floodgates opened. Within 1 month, 6 of my friends announced they were pregnant.
I slipped into a deep depression.
I would log onto Facebook everyday, and be flooded with pictures of baby showers, sonograms, cribs and high chairs. As happy as I was for these friends, some of whom were the best of my friends, I felt myself harboring hateful feelings that did not feel like the Abby I’ve always known.
So B and I made a pact. No more Facebook, for at least one month. Even on our Blackberry’s. We called it our Facebook Sabbatical.
And we did. And I didn’t miss it. Mostly.
By the time the month was over, I was ready to log back into my online life and see what was shaking. But I promised myself that I wouldn’t play Farmville, or any other games, anymore. And that I wouldn’t obsess over other people’s business. I started blocking people who enticed me to argue politics, or made statements that frustrated or annoyed me. I vowed to only spend 30 minutes a day on Facebook…no more, no less. And I learned to control the addiction I had to social networking.
What we learned on our Facebook Sabbatical: As fun as it is to keep up with people, connect with lost friends, brag about our successes…our life is here. In the real sense. With each other. All the rest can just fall away.

6 thoughts on “The Facebook Phenomenon

  1. Alex@LateEnough

    I have had points where I’ve need to remind myself that my real life is what matters. Taking the time to get grounded again is really important to sanity and perspective.

    PS. Walt is persistent.

  2. Abby

    It was really important, at that time, that I do exactly that. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in stuff that isn’t even your own. Stepping back from FB really helped us both deal with our issues.

    And yes, Walt is nothing if not persistent.

    PS: I swooned a little when I saw you’d commented on my blog. I’m a big fan. 🙂

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