The last time I logged into facebook and twitter was 3 days ago and contrary to popular opinion, I have had an obnoxiously active social life, periods of reflection and reading, as well as several mini phone dates.
While I wish I could attribute my positive engagement with others on the lack of facebook stalking and communicating, I am fully aware that my actions and FTF communication with others is nothing more than a self fulfilling prophecy. And I’m okay with that.
I went into this experiment anticipating the “extra” hours in the day to be used for reading books for leisure, actively doing homework assignments, generally more communication with friends and male friends via phone and text messages, and prolonged social engagement with others. That is exactly what has been happening since Thursday at 3:00 p.m. when I severed my ties with Facebook and Twitter. To say that these social networking avenues are the root cause of decreased social interaction and positive communication can greatly be debated as an excuse to scapegoat technology for our personal shortcomings. It is possible to be a member of online social communities and still actively engage in FTF interaction, do well on homework assignments from the lack of distractions and not make a complete fool of yourself on the weekend and have minifeed posts to remind you every hour, on the hour, until someone else plays victim (or culprit) to the social network fiasco.
What I am slowly realizing is that it is up to the individual to decide how much time and effort they would like to engage in superficial interactions versus engaging in face to face interactions with others. It is really easy to get “caught up” in the superficiality of interaction that Facebook and Twitter allows, however it would be unwise to say that these networks ENCOURAGE this interaction. This is merely the conotation that has been given to these various social networks, which is largely socially constructed. How ironic.
A person makes the decision to be a drunken idiot on the weekend and allow people to take photos of this debauchery and place it on facebook. A person makes the decision to spend two hours cyberstalking a hot guy they met a few weekends ago instead of typing a paper and reading Mrs. Dalloway for leisure. A person makes the decision to tweet their shortcomings and announcements on how crappy their exboyfriend is. These are all choices and decisions that our culture makes for themselves. Facebook and Twitter merely serve as the avenue, the venue for publically denouncing relationships, intellectual decisions and drunken actions.
So while I would love to say that my time off of Facebook and Twitter has ALLOWED me to see the world in a new light, to read for leisure, and talk on the phone to a Springfield hottie while walking my dog, the bottom line is that I could have been doing this anyway. It was I who CHOSE to consume hours and hours of public disclosure privately and superficially. The bottom line is that we have a lot more say in our actions and decisions than we would like to give ourselves credit for. Facebook doesn’t come with a disclaimer stating how excessive engagement with this product will lead to addiction. Facebook isn’t laced with nicotine or cocaine. Sorry folks, but technology isn’t going to take the blame for this one. This one is our social downfall.