Thursday, April 9, 2009

To Facebook or Not To Facebook

That is the question.

It seems like everyone around me uses Facebook - friends from the homeschool group, neighbors, our housemate's mother, even FlyLady. My husband uses twitter compulsively.

I love connection. I love community. I love chatting with people I haven't seen for 20 years. Yet, I can't bring myself to sign up.

For over five years, the discussion board at OneHotMama filled my brain.  I'd sneak a few minutes at the keyboard to check in on the latest conversations or contribute some thought to the boards many times a day (and often in the night what with all the night nursing). The HotMamas formed a sisterhood, we supported each other through childbirth, early breastfeeding, potty training and weird mother-in-law situations.  We travelled twice a year to meet in real life and bond in person.  So much lovely fun, yet all that time and energy spent in the virtual world interfered with my ability to create such relationships with the people who lived in my own neighborhood.

I finally decided to break away from the Mamas because my lack of local community jarred me to change. I took on the leadership of API Seattle, hoping to find the level of warmth and support I'd found online.  Investing in face to face community challenges me.  It turns out there are things I don't really like about myself that are easy to hide from people who only "see" me when and how I want them to.  Engaging with the people around me forced me to become more authentic and start to admit when I'm having upset feelings or really struggling with my day (and the people in it). Because face to face friends could already see it on my face and hear it in my voice.  In the end, investing in the people around me became a huge investment in myself.

Looking at Facebook, I am reluctant to enter another virtual social world.

On a more practical level, popping in online often creates chaos in my world. Mostly because "just checking on one thread" inevitably turns into two or three theads, with side conversations.  2 seconds evilly morphs into 10 minutes.  It literally wastes time and sucks the focus out of my day. Also, the repeated disconnection from my kids and husband for that "2 seconds" really starts to irk them. Promise of bedlam and family distress, not so inviting.

So, for the moment, I choose Not To Facebook. But I still wonder how my friends from 2nd grade are doing, out there somewhere in the ethers.

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