Sunday, February 24, 2013

Facebook Time

Everyone with a computer, or a smart phone, knows how time can be frittered away on the Internet. Facebook is the number one offender when people are asked, "what is your biggest Internet time-suck?" This may be why, nearly every week, I see a link to an essay explaining why the writer is quitting Facebook. Various reasons are listed for ending this addictive habit, and deleting one's account is the Internet equivalent of quitting smoking cold-turkey.

In my quest to rid myself of unnecessary encumbrances, my participation on Facebook has naturally come under scrutiny. I've been less bothered by how much time it takes, mostly because I'm more of a lurker than a participant, than how much of my mental energy it extracts even when I'm not online.

I get annoyed by some things I see posted on Facebook. I almost never respond, primarily because I don't want to waste my time arguing with people who will never agree with me, but I think about them for hours or days afterwards. I have the arguments with the posters in my head, pointing out that their information is not factual or logical.

So I think about staying away from Facebook. Then I realize I'll also deprive myself of the good aspects, namely staying in touch with friends who were long-lost until this new technology appeared. As an introvert, I've never been good at keeping in touch when geography and changing life circumstances remove people from proximity. Facebook has made me regret my "out of sight, out of mind" tendencies, showing me that some friends from the past likely would still be friends, maybe even better friends now, and I welcome their re-entry into my life, even if it is only virtual.

Fortunately, I've discovered that Facebook can be streamlined. Maybe I don't want to go to the extreme of un-friending people who drain my mental energy, but I can hide them from my news feed. Likewise, I can change my settings to receive notifications of updates from selected friends and family members. Investing a few minutes to determine who gets removed from my news feed and who gets to the top of it has solved the problem of Facebook for me.

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