Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No More Facebook

After months of going back and forth with the decision I have decided
to take an unknown (perhaps permanent) vacation from Facebook. I am
not making this decision lightly or without a lot of carefully thought
out reasons and nights praying. The idea has been on my heart for a
few months and finally today after reading yet another blog about the
problems with social media my thoughts and feelings were reaffirmed.

I will never underestimate the power that social media has had on my
life both positively and negatively. It was my anchor to the real
world during the months following Bronson's homecoming from the NICU.
It has also been a source of keeping those connected in his growth and
development a record of all the past four years of life as Facebook
wasn't part of my life until after his birth. Facebook also was the
main social media outlet that my family chose to use during the period
of time that my little sister faced her most difficult and life
altering surgery to cancer back in August. I will never underestimate
the power of it's ability to get the word out quickly to others when
information is needed or prayer is wanted. I could continue to explain
the positive experiences that Facebook has provided including
connecting with long lost friends, organizing my ten year HS reunion,
keeping up to date with other preemie parents, and of course being
able to see pictures of my friends and family members, but remember I
am choosing to deactivate my account for awhile.

Two months ago I sat across the dinner table with two women that I
value deeply. We discussed the negative affects that social media has
had on our friendships, the youth, and even in some very extremely sad
situations our families. We all took turns explaining the obvious that
Facebook can be used as a media to bully or say things to others that
haven given the same opportunities in person one might be a little
reserved in being so bold. Facebook has also took the privacy element
out of many things that once we held as sacred or things that should
be kept confidential. I have learned things about people's marriages,
life struggles, and day to day life that still to this day shocks me
that it was shared. Sadly the things the people put on Facebook can't
be erased, even if the user chooses later to remove the conversation.
Chances are that by the time you have removed the comment at least 25
percent of your friends have viewed the thread; for me that means that
125 people would have just witnessed my bad conversation decision via

One of our biggest dilemmas that we discussed is whether Facebook is
helping or hurting our friendships. None of us could honestly make a
decision, but did feel that it does create room for us to be more
superficial and less steadfast in our prayer life. It is super easy to
read through your current status updates while "liking" someone's
status and promising to pray for them, but even easier to forget by
the time you have scanned the items of what exactly you just promised
to pray for. One of us suggested making a conscience effort to stop
what we were doing immediately and commit the request to pray or to
our daily prayer journal. Once I made this effort I did feel a bit
better, but still something about my "friendships" on Facebook kept
nagging me.

I slowly begin to think about the amount of "friends" I have on
Facebook and whether I needed to remove some people. I truthfully went
through my list a handful of times trying to decide if it was
appropriate to unfriend certain people. In 99 percent of the cases I
truly know these people and felt that an unfriending would not only
serve no purpose but might perhaps hurt someone's feelings and that
would never have been my intention. I then decided to speak to a
colleague of mine that chose to remove everyone from his Facebook that
was not family. I thought about doing this also and using Facebook
merely as a way to share updates and pictures amongst family, but once
again I would not want anyone to think I removed them for some
dramatic purpose.

When I had this conversation with my friends a couple of months ago we
all brought up that we felt that Facebook could be the culprit for
many hurt feelings and superficial relationships. It is so hard to
know the true tone of one's voice via a texted message. It is also
easy to assume that because someone is your friend via Facebook that
they are currently up to date in your life. I will never forget the
time nearly two years ago when a friend of mine was mad that I didn't
know about her dad's health issues because she had mentioned it via
Facebook. At the time my work was not attached to social media and I
didn't check status updates on a regular basis. I was dumbfounded to
realize that people actually expected others to know everything about
their life via Facebook. I knew this past week that I also had assumed
the same thing when I spoke with a friend and assumed that they knew
about my sister's battle with cancer because of Facebook. Just today I
witnessed a perfect example of this when a friend posted that she no
longer had any cancer treatments and one of her friends commented that
she had no idea she had been battling cancer for the past year. The
snotty side of my reaction was to say, "Really, where have you been?"
but then I took step back and realized that perhaps this friend didn't
subscribe to the other's feed or wasn't the type of user that visited
pages individually. Not all users of Facebook are savvy enough to know
exactly how to use the system.

In the height of some of my darkest hours Facebook has been used as an
outlet of attack against me and my family. At that time I thought very
strongly about removing my account but chose to keep it for two
important reasons; connecting to other NICU parents and because of my
work with March of Dimes. I wanted to have a way to share mass amounts
of media quickly with those that are interested in an important
mission. Even when comments or behaviors have resulted in tears or
failed communication I felt that the good out weighed the bad. I have
now realized that I can not only administer pages for both my
professional and personal missions, but that I can do so without
having a personal investment in the social media outlet. My focus for
NICU outreach will once again become my blog and I will continue to
keep Deets Angels via Facebook as an ongoing effort to connect with
NICU parents. I will make every effort to utilize email connections to
connect with those in need of NICU support. In a recent study given to
a small group of students the majority agreed that they are more
likely to read and take seriously an email generated by a
friend/business/department than they are a status update or event
invitation via Facebook. I could go on about these online invitations
too. I am not without blame for using them to create a large following
or to cut down on paper waste, but I also contend that I do not take
an invitation via Facebook to your kid's 1st birthday as seriously as
I would a mail or hand delivered invitation.

The following reasons are the analysis that I used to make this big decision:

Having no Facebook will require me to maintain active and meaningful
relationships with my friends via the phone or email.

I will miss the easibility of seeing my nephew's picture via Facebook,
but currently do without seeing Olivia's pictures and am able to

I will have more time to do actual stuff. Those people that truly want
to know what is going on in my life will make the effort to do so and
I will do so for them.

I will be instilling a level of privacy back in my family and professional life.

I will be less likely to get annoyed on a daily basis from somebody's
status update or inability to withhold information that should remain

My friends and I will have something to talk about besides Facebook.
It might seem funny, but I do not want this social media outlet to
have so much ownership in my conversation and personal life. It truly
zaps the life out of me at times.

I don't know how long my hiatus will last. My favorite teenage
babysitter is giving it up for lent and said other than having more
freetime she doesn't really miss it. I wonder if after a few weeks it
won't seem like such a big decision. For me it has been a struggle
because after all my position at work requires the connection, but I
feel strongly that this is the best decision for me and my family.

You can still connect with me here on my blog or via email
Deets-girl@hotmail.com. I would also be happy to share my number if
you are so kind to message me. Our Deets Angels: In Heaven and On
Earth Facebook page will remain open and able to view for March of
Dimes updates and as always my March for Babies site remains open. It
is 2012 after all and I can't remove all forms of social media from my
life; just the ones that have caused sleepless nights.