Sunday, October 4, 2009

Confessions of a Social Networking Addict

When I was in middle school, I used to talk to my friends on the phone for hours. I would eat, drink, complete homework assignments, watch TV shows, or listen to the radio with the receiver firmly attached to my ear. Eventually, I would finally hang up the phone, my ear sweaty and ringing. My mother would roll her eyes, and my father would ask me, “What could you possibly talk about for three hours?” My brother, meanwhile, would belch, because that’s what little brothers do. I would sigh, and fight the urge to pick up the phone again. After all, I had to tell a friend that my family sooooo didn’t get it.
            I do not use the phone with nearly the same intensity today. I guess part of growing up is relinquishing the need to watch Melrose Place, eat Cheetos, and paint my nails, while simultaneously playing a rousing game of “OMG, she did NOT say that!” on the phone. Yet, upon further reflection, I must confess that inside me, there is still that same overwhelming, borderline-obsessive need to communicate. It’s just now done via Facebook.
            Anybody who knows me even a little knows that I am on Facebook a lot. It all started innocently enough. My brother lives in Seattle and is in a band. In between the time zones and insanely different lifestyle choices, we were not communicating. He asked me to join Facebook so I could see some pictures, and I agreed. Yet, I didn’t post any pictures or participate in any meaningful way. Facebook, in my mind, was for the teenyboppers.
            Slowly but surely, I became ensnared in the social networking web. A status update here, a picture there, and I am now fully addicted, checking it at least twice a day. It’s a sickness, but I’m willing to stay sick.
            The fact is, there are times in the stay-at-home-mom life that you’re stuck at home. Kids are sleeping or sick, and thus, actual face-to-face adult contact is unlikely. I don’t want to call somebody on the phone, because I don’t want to wake up sleeping kids or intrude on the blissful silence of others. Instead, I check out Facebook.
            I learn that lots of other mothers are tired, wanting naps, or wishing that their children would nap. I learn that we all have children that say funny, insightful, beautiful things. Sometimes, we admit our secret love for Justin Timberlake or for the TV show Glee. Some people make imaginary farms or send virtual gifts to each other.
            In a way, it doesn’t matter what we’re saying, as long as we know that somebody else hears it, understands it, and feels it too.
            I’m certainly not suggesting that Facebook friends are close enough to the real thing. They aren’t. There is no substitute for real friendships built up over time. Yet, if logging on helps me stay connected on a day that I feel disconnected, that’s something I can get behind.
            So, on many evenings, I may be on the laptop. My husband might say, “What could you possibly have to talk about for three hours?”  My response is that I am talking about nothing. Yet, that nothing helps me remain part of a community, and feel something besides stir-crazy.

1 comment:

Corrie Howe said...

I find that Facebook helps me stay "connected" in a small way to my son's teen friends and the one who left for college. But I find it aggravating that I only get text time responses from them, so I don't really know what is going on in their life.