For the past couple of months I have been having an internal debate as to whether or not to quit using Facebook. For those of you that know me, know that I am on Facebook a lot. In fact, I'm realizing that I'm on it too much. What I've been pondering and even studying a little bit is what role technology plays in my life. So many incredible things have come out as a result of technology, but at the same time, I think that because of technology a lot of us have connected with hundreds and hundreds of people while actually becoming increasingly lonely.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I know I'm not alone in saying that I have used my cell phone as a way of disengaging from what is going on around me. Whether I am hanging out with a group of friends, or sitting on a train next to someone I don't know, instead of engaging in conversation and building relationships, a lot of times I pull out my cell phone and start scrolling down the newsreel on Facebook or checking my emails or texts.
I have been having a conversation with someone and they have pulled out their cell phones and while pretending they are listening, I realize they are checking out Facebook or something else on their phone. It completely insults me and makes me feel less important. It makes me feel like what I have to say does not matter, or that I do not matter. The bad thing is, I know I've done the same thing to other people. Why is that?
A few days ago I was sitting on an airplane coming home from a vacation. There was a television in front of me and I was searching through the programs on it to see if there was anything worth watching. There were a couple of videos from T.E.D., which is a series of conferences that goes on each year to spread ideas and share information over various topics. I love getting on there and listening to brilliant people share their knowledge from the areas of their specialties.
Anyway, one of the T.E.D. videos I watched was called Connected, but alone? by Sherry Turkle, who is a psychologist and sociologist that studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships. The title total caught me attention (Connected, but alone?), because a lot of times that how I feel. I am posting the video at the bottom of this post. Turkle talks about how we are getting used to being alone together. She doesn't say that technology and things like Facebook and texting are bad, but we need to be careful in how we use them.
In her practice she has interviewed many people that fear having real conversations because "conversations are real time and you can't control what you're going to say." So instead we use technology to present ourselves the way we want to be. Through technology we get to retouch and make ourselves look just right.
She said that we've gone from saying "I have a feeling, I need to make a call." to "I want a feeling, I need to send a text." I'm totally guilty of that. Instead of going out with friends or having a deep conversation with a loved one, I get on Facebook instead and looked at everyone's touched up, perfect lives and try to present myself the same way. Don't get me wrong. I have a great life, but one Facebook and through text, it is so much easier to only show the good things and to make it look like your life is so exciting, while no one really gets to see the real, vulnerable and imperfect, yet beautiful, person that you are.
My favorite quote from the video is this: "It's time to talk! We all really need to listen to each other, including to the boring bits, because it's when we stumble, or hesitate, or lose our words, that we reveal ourselves to each other." I love that! We all want to be connected and we all want our true selves to be heard, but I don't think it can be done through Facebook or even through texts. It is only through talking, and only through really listening to each other, that we let our true selves out, and realize that our true selves are so much better than retouches we think we need to make.
So that is what's going on with me. What do you think? I'm trying to decide whether or not to just close my Facebook account all together, or to limit myself to getting on only once or twice a month. I honestly get anxious thinking about it because I think I'm going to miss out on so much, when in reality, I think because of the time I've wasted on Facebook I've already missed out on so much. I am doing one thing for certain. Deleting the Facebook app off my phone. Someone one said that cell phones are adult pacifiers, and I totally agree. I'm too old for a pacifier and I want to limit how much time I spend on my phone...unless I am actually have a real phone call, a real conversation with somebody else.