Why I Almost Broke Up with Facebook

I’m constantly looking for ways to  simplify and streamline life.  So when I joined Facebook a couple of years ago, I thought it would be a really simple way to keep in touch with my long-distance family members and close friends – simply and efficiently.  But I immediately got hit with a dilemma.  Who is a “friend”?!  The definition began to get really blurry!  Before I knew it, I had over 600 “friends” and many of them I had never met in person!  I was grateful that so many people sought to be connection with me!

Then, my son joined Facebook.  I started coaching him about not accepting requests from anyone whom he didn’t know for the sake of his safety.  He ‘friended’ me and began looking at my list of ‘friends’ and asked me who many of the names were.  I found myself fumbling for a way to explain why I had accepted hundreds of requests from people I really didn’t know well… and I realized that I wasn’t setting a very good example!  I had an important decision to make.

I eventually decided I need to save Facebook for connecting with people who are a part of my “real life” — family, church family, neighbors and personal friends.  And I would use Twitter to connect with online friends, business acquaintances, people whom I’ve never really met  and others with whom I love interacting but don’t truly know on a personal basis.  This was a difficult and time-consuming decision!  One that is on-going!  It took hours and hours to go through all the names and try to make a split decision.  I found myself worried that no one would be able to find my blog or stay in touch.  But I kept going back to one thing: setting an example for my kids.

Since my kids were little, I’ve coached them about “stranger danger”.  I tell my kids to be careful and not to trust someone with personal information just because they have a friendly profile picture or say nice things.  But I had to heed my own advice!

I’m finding a huge sense of relief in this decision.  At a time in life when email and social media goes everywhere with me via the Blackberry, I understand more and more the importance of having a personal life — some places to go that aren’t about work, or blog traffic, or having our daily activities “out there” for anyone and everyone.  It may not be popular, maybe even hurtful to some, but this Facebook decision became a matter of integrity. I never want to ask my kids to live by standards by which I can’t live. For that, I’ll never apologize.

8 thoughts on “Why I Almost Broke Up with Facebook

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  1. WOW thanks Emily. I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing and this post confirmed I need to do it.

    You are an inspiration!

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  2. One thing to keep in mind is the fallacy of “stranger danger”. People are much more likely to be harmed/abused by people they know fairly well, rather than mere strangers or acquaintances. Not only that but there are people I’ve befriended on Facebook that I barely knew or did not know at all, who had common interests with me, that I’ve now become friends with in “real” life.

    I certainly understand the necessity sometimes to simplify things but also keep in mind the opportunities that God may open up through getting to know someone on Facebook.

    By way of explanation, someone I already knew from highschool found me on Facebook. Honestly, they pretty much are still a stranger to me because I haven’t been in contact with them in over 20 years. However, this person began reading my blog due to our new Facebook connection and sent me a message there indicating they were interested in reading and hearing more about my faith in Christ. That’s the kind of thing that motivates me more than anything.

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    1. I definitely hear you on the issue of “stranger danger” not not only applying to strangers, Dave. I definitely have the radar up on familiar people, as well, on- and off-line.

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  3. I’ve done the same. My personal FB profile is for people I actually have a relationship with offline. I use a FB business page for my blog, and I have Twitter for all my online contacts. It’s been a lot easier trying to keep my personal details ‘private’ and yet share/promote my blog and keep in touch w/ networking contacts.

    It’s more than okay to set boundaries… in fact, it’s the wise thing to do!

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  4. Emily….you touched on something I have been pondering for quite some time. So, I went through my friends list and did some purging. I am also setting up a list of folks who will be getting profile updates. Many less than the total number of friends. I like that you can decide who does and doesn’t get updates. Makes my friend list more manageable. I’ll let you know how it works.

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  5. Three cheers for my wise niece!! You will never regret being that good example to your kids. I totally respect you for going to all the work that had to take to weed through all your Not-really-truely-friends-friends. Love you kiddo! Carol

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