People ask me a lot why I'm not on Facebook or Twitter.
The simple answer is that I can't keep up with it. Between my email Inbox and this blog I'm at my limit. I don't have room in my life to add Facebook and Twitter interactions.
This, I'm told, really inhibits my ability to build a readership for this blog. I'm unable to buzz my blog on Facebook and Twitter. But I really don't care.
And there are moments when I think I reap a lot of other spiritual, psychological and social benefits for not being on Facebook. Last spring I did a series--"The Angel of the iPhone" (see the sidebar)--trying to think about the good and the bad of Web 2.0 connectivity. The series was prompted by the spate of stories and examples of people giving up Facebook for Lent. Why, I thought, was Facebook a target for Lent? Was Facebook a "guilty pleasure"? A form of self-indulgence? A spiritual distraction? Here at the blog I asked you, if you had given up Facebook for Lent or gone on a Facebook fast, what motivated you to do so. Here were some of your answers:
I felt guilty about all the times I disappeared from reality to converse with virtual friends.I was recently reminded of the comment above--"I found myself comparing my life to the exciting lives posted by others, and coming up lacking"--reading Daniel Gulati's article Facebook Is Making Us Miserable at the Harvard Business Review blog. Daniel writes about discoveries he made in researching a recent book about how Facebook is affecting the lives of young professionals:
...it consumed so much of my time...
It's possible that I have an actual psychological addiction to Facebook...The sort of thinking that leads me to perpetual page refreshing seems eerily akin to the behaviour of rats who want another serotonin shot and keep pumping that pedal...
So much of what I posted on Facebook was worded in order to see how many people would ‘like’ my comments. It’s just another way in which I am programmed to worry about what other people think and addicted to their praise.
I felt that God was asking me to give it up.
...postings would leave me angry. That made it impossible to simply log on for fun. The anger, I soon found, was not good for my soul.
I gave up facebook because I felt that it was distracting me from God's primary callings on my life, and I realized that I was not being a good steward of my time.
My reason [for giving up Facebook] was to not get "sucked in" during work or free time, lost in the news feed of others.
[Facebook] had become part of my habit to a degree I was uncomfortable with. Whenever I was bored I'd just click the icon on my bookmark bar or the app on my phone for a minute of mindless scrolling and reading about things that (for the most part) don't really matter.
It's a tool with the potential to suck out your soul...
I gave up having online debates/discussions/arguments about politics and religion.
I feel like Facebook was allowing me to be "friends" without being actually friendly, a key temptation for an introvert such as myself. Second, I found myself comparing my life to the exciting lives posted by others, and coming up lacking (in my mind)...
I would say that my reasons [for fasting from Facebook] had to do with sensitivity vs. stimulation. Our culture is addicted to stimulation (Kurt Cobaine- "here we are now, entertain me"). However, the more stimulated one gets, on movies, gadgets, music, etc. the less sensitive they become.
For me, this was about my growing insecurity that was in a lot of ways fueled by the time I spent on Facebook.
Facebook is something of a monster, chewing up increasing amounts of time as the number of friends grows larger and larger and the need to post every thought, photo and comment feels greater and greater.
[T]his new world of ubiquitous connections has a dark side. In my last post, I noted that Facebook and social media are major contributors to career anxiety. After seeing some of the comments and reactions to the post, it's clear that Facebook in particular takes it a step further: It's actually making us miserable.Where is this jealousy, anxiety and depression coming from? Number one among Gulati's list of answers is this:
Facebook's explosive rate of growth and recent product releases, such as the prominent Newsticker, Top Stories on the newsfeed, and larger photos have all been focused on one goal: encouraging more sharing. As it turns out, it's precisely this hyper-sharing that is threatening our sense of happiness.
In writing Passion & Purpose, I monitored and observed how Facebook was impacting the lives of hundreds of young businesspeople. As I went about my research, it became clear that behind all the liking, commenting, sharing, and posting, there were strong hints of jealousy, anxiety, and, in one case, depression.
[Facebook is] creating a den of comparison. Since our Facebook profiles are self-curated, users have a strong bias toward sharing positive milestones and avoid mentioning the more humdrum, negative parts of their lives. Accomplishments like, "Hey, I just got promoted!" or "Take a look at my new sports car," trump sharing the intricacies of our daily commute or a life-shattering divorce. This creates an online culture of competition and comparison...
Comparing ourselves to others is a key driver of unhappiness. Tom DeLong, author of Flying Without a Net, even describes a "Comparing Trap." He writes, "No matter how successful we are and how many goals we achieve, this trap causes us to recalibrate our accomplishments and reset the bar for how we define success."And as we judge the entirety of our own lives against the top 1% of our friends' lives, we're setting impossible standards for ourselves, making us more miserable than ever.