Watching life through a monitor is not really living
I’m beginning to wonder if Facebook is going to stay in my future.
It’s been fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed keeping up with my family and close friends, reconnecting with old friends in far-away places and making new friends. The original intent of signing up for the Facebook phenomenon was for work purposes, which I did kicking and screaming. I must admit, posting queries about stories I’m working on and getting suggestions from friends about other possible story ideas have been much more common than I thought.
But Facebook is taking over my life. As one friend said, it’s an addiction you just have to break. Otherwise you’ll find yourself staring blearily at a computer screen at all hours of the day and night, just waiting for that next cryptic comment or update on what someone had for supper or whether Joanie really does still love Chachi.
Really, can anyone be totally committed to another without it being Facebook-official?
I spent the weekend with friends at Fall Creek Falls State Park recently, totally unplugged from Facebook, email and the Internet. It was so nice to actually have face time — rather than Facebook time — with real people in a beautiful setting of woodland, lake and waterfalls. The balcony at our suite was perfect for sitting outside and talking, watching a storm come across the lake that Saturday evening and the fog dissipate early the next morning.
Falling back into old habits is too easy, though. I hadn’t been home more than a few hours before I plugged in again, posting photos and catching up with what everyone had done for the past two days.
Social media does have its benefits. I fear, however, that most of us fall into the lazy way of keeping in touch. Sitting at a desk in a messy room in your underwear and typing by the light of the monitor just doesn’t have the same ambiance as meeting friends or family for lunch or a moonlight hike around Cades Cove (appropriately clothed, naturally). Virtual hugs and emoticons lack the personal touch of a real hug and a smile, too.
And then there is the privacy issue. I wonder, do most folks realize that anything they post online, whether by social media or email, stays forever? You might erase it, but it is always there to be found if someone with the right expertise decides to go hunting. As an example, how many public figures have been totally humiliated when old messages to mistresses or other inappropriate communications resurface? In May 2011, former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner sent a link to a sexually suggestive photograph of himself via his public Twitter account to a woman who was following him on Twitter. After initially denying the charges, he admitted he had exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with several women over the previous three years. He resigned shortly thereafter.
Closer to home, a University of Tennessee president resigned in disgrace in 2001 after a series of emails from his personal account suggested an inappropriate relationship between him and a staff member. Both of them were married to other people.
My point is, online tools can be useful for keeping in touch with people you care about, for networking in your profession and for disseminating information. We must always remember, however, that our words can come back to haunt us — if you don’t want the world to know it, keep it to yourself.
I’m thinking it’s time to back away from Facebook. There are too many friends to visit, family members to catch up with, natural beauty to enjoy, good books to read. After all, life is much bigger than a 19-inch monitor would allow us to experience.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (firstname.lastname@example.org)