Monday, October 19, 2015

The Pros/Cons of Using Facebook

I’ve been doing some thinking about Facebook (FB).  I hear people’s comments and judgements about what is wrong with using this popular social media platform.  I hear criticisms of my own Facebook page, or how I use it.  I read editorials on why we should delete our FB page right now.  And, I wonder which of those points are valid for me, and what do I want from using FB.  So, as I like to do when making a life decision, I made a list of the Pros and Cons of using FB.
  • I’ve become friends with people I’ve met on Facebook
  • I keep up with what’s going on with my friends and family
  • I sometimes learn new information; political, religion, entertainment, current events
  • I feel less isolated, being retired.
  • I enjoy reconnecting with old classmates
  • FB takes you away from real life and real friends.
  • The phenomenon of “social comparison”
  • Time waster
  • Keeping up with people you don’t even really know or care about in real life
  • There is a lot of “junk” that I don’t want to see (ads, videos, memes)
  • Privacy issues

 The thing that I think causes the MOST trouble is the social comparison aspect.  When you post of FB, you are showing the things you are the most proud of, or happy about.  You don’t necessarily show, or share your personal issues or challenges you have in life.  I had someone tell me that I am a formidable friend, and her explanation was that because my life seems so perfect, I make other people feel inferior.  She was talking about my FB page, because I don’t really talk to her all that much other than on FB.  Since then, I have been sensitized with that, but I personally think of FB as a kind of photo album, with written narratives, since you aren’t there to explain the photos.  I don’t post anything negative, or at least I try not to.  I have given my opinions in the past, but that has not worked out so well, so I don’t do that anymore.
I also feel that FB is addicting, and you can spend too much time on it.  I know I do that, and I get irritated at myself for that.  I check it all the time.  That is something I personally have to work on.  I don’t care if other’s think I spend too much time on it, it’s not their business.  But, when I think I check it too often, it bothers me, and I have to do something about it.  I don’t know what yet, but I’ll let you know.

Some of the other criticisms I listed, such as reading stuff I don’t care about from people I don’t really know, I have some control over.  In fact, I just recently went through my friend list and took some people out that I don’t know, or I haven’t liked what they have been posting.  There are a few more I might delete, not because I don’t like them, but because they don’t fit with what I use FB for.

And what DO I use FB for?  Or, more specifically, what do I want to get out of using FB?
  • I like keeping up with my family and my close friends.  I want to watch my cousins kids grow up.  I want to stay in touch with aunts, uncles, cousins, and family that live far away.  My son doesn’t stay in close contact with me, and that is as it should be, but every once in a while, I get to see what he is doing, and it makes me happy. I also want to see what my friends are up to, what they are doing, because at this stage in our lives, we don’t get together as often as we used to.
  • I like reconnecting with friends that I have lost track of.  My 40th high school reunion is coming up, and I have reconnected with several people from my class as well as a few years before and after my graduation.  Some of them post a lot, some of them don’t, but when I go to the reunions, I feel very comfortable walking right up to them, because we are familiar with each other through FB.
  • I have made a couple of new friends on FB, one of whom I really enjoy.  We have met in person only a couple of times, but we have a lot in common, and she has a great attitude about life, and priorities.  I would never have met her without FB.
  • I have “friended” several artists, because my dad is an artist and I have taken it up as well.  I watch what they do, and I appreciate seeing their artwork.  I also find out about showings, or workshops, and maybe even get ideas to help promote my dad’s art.  I learn a lot.
  • I like posting photos I take of my adorable grandsons, of my wonderful family, of my close friends, of the hikes I take, and the places I get to visit!  That doesn’t mean my life is perfect, because it’s not, no one’s life is perfect.  But at my age, I am enjoying these things, and it gives me joy to share that with my friends and family.  (I have started using Instagram more for the hiking photos, because I can connect with and enjoy other hiker’s photos.)  My feeling is that if someone thinks I am posting too much that they are not interested in, they will “unfriend” me like I do when I am not interested in what someone chooses to post.

One time when I was annoyed with something that was happening on FB, I was telling my mom that I thought I needed to delete my FB account.  She said “No, don’t do that, just remember, FB is a tool to use however YOU want to use it!”  I think she is right.

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