Taking a Break

I kinda, sorta broke up with Facebook yesterday. I have a feeling it’s the same kind of breakup I had with my now husband when we were in college. I broke up with him for 8 hours. It was excruciating. 

But this breakup is probably for the best, and so far has lasted longer than 8 hours. 

I have still have an account. I still exist on the platform. I use Facebook at work and need a way to post and log in, so I’m not deleting my account. For right now, I deleted it off my phone and replaced that icon space with a game I really like, so when my thumb gravitates to that spot out of habit, it opens an addicting game instead of the social media app that’s lately made me feel like crap. 

There are all sorts of studies about how social media can impact self esteem. And lately, because of other external factors, I’ve been feeling kind of low. So this is an experiment to see if my lack of daily FB checking brightens my spirits. 

I’m on Instagram and Twitter still, so let’s be friends! And if you know me IRL, my number hasn’t changed since I signed up for Cingular in college. 

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In Defense of Facebook

It’s in the news and on blogs and on Twitter: the demise of Facebook, at least in the coveted teen demographic.

Guess what? I’m still on Facebook (and clearly not in the teen demographic) and I’m not leaving. But I am using Facebook differently than I did in the beginning.

A few months ago I started thinking about how many “friends” I have on Facebook. And how in reality, if I saw at least 50 of those people in person, I would probably not have an actual conversation with them. Not because I don’t like them. I like them! I like seeing their pictures and status updates.

But for various reasons, we probably aren’t Facebook friend material: I haven’t seen them IRL for years and years, didn’t actually know them well in the first place, and I accepted Facebook friend requests in the beginning of my Facebook journey from basically anyone I had met or even remotely knew of. I share personal stuff on Facebook – pictures of my son, vacation photos, updates about my life. And I really do like sharing that stuff with people I know. But a while ago, I de-friended people. It felt like a one-sided breakup and I know most of those people don’t care or probably haven’t even noticed that we are no longer Facebook friends.

So I’ve changed my Facebook strategy. If I know that I (and you!) will greet each other in person if we met on the street, we are meant to be Facebook friends. If you’re family, you’re stuck with me. But if I only know you professionally, we can connect on LinkedIn or Twitter (but not on my anonymous Twitter account, where I’m snarky and mean).

This means that only my close friends see most of my status updates and pictures. I have an entirely separate group of Mommy friends that I grumble to about parenting and lament about lack of sleep. I’m pretty sure most of my non-Mommy friends appreciate not reading these status updates. I even have a VERY small group of BFFs that see certain status updates that are really truly only meant for their eyes only. The thing I like about Facebook is that I can choose who gets to see what. And only a handful of friends see everything because they fall into every category.

And strangely enough to me, there are people I friended on Facebook years ago that I didn’t know very well IRL, but we’ve become better friends because of Facebook. It’s a strange phenomenon. I feel lucky that this has happened.

I do admit that there are a few people I haven’t de-friended that I probably should. I don’t let these people see much on my Facebook page, so what’s the point? I’m still pondering that one.

And yes, I know Facebook is using me and my information to make money. I’m a social media addict and because I’m terrible about picking up the phone to call a friend, social media allows me to stay connected to people I care about in ways that I never could have imagined even 5 years ago.

What about you? Are you like my husband, who doesn’t check Facebook and doesn’t share anything, ever (I mean, seriously, I think the last time he updated is status was when our son was born almost three years ago), and should probably just delete his account? Or are you like me, a Facebook lover?

Why I Broke Up with a Mommy Support Group

As a new parent, I absorbed helpful tidbits and practical solutions as much as a sleep-deprived person could. When it came time for questions like, “Can I give my baby Tylenol?” and “What’s the best cream for eczema?” I did what most people do: I turned to the internet and strangers for advice.

Except these people weren’t really strangers. They were moms, part of a Facebook group another new mom had invited me to. Women posted comments and questions about parenting and I mostly just read, never posting a comment myself, although I did post an occasional question. And it was helpful and great!

Of course, there were the usual online group weirdos, the ones who posted about their family problems all the time, the ones who talked about sex way too much, etc. There were also some moms whose parenting choices were so different than mine that I would read their posts and comments with a mixture of shock and academic interest.

And then one day a mom posted about depression, about the “baby blues”. Should she go see a doctor? Should she take medication? She was still nursing, so she was concerned about her baby, too.

I commented that yes, postpartum depression is no joke, that medicine had helped me and I had continued nursing while taking my prescription, after of course discussing my options with my doctor. Depression is not something to take lightly. It’s serious.

So then another mom posted a comment about prayer. That praying would work just as well as medicine. And to really think twice about medicine because how could you think about endangering your baby! Pray! Pray! Nurse! Baby! But nothing about the mental health of the mother.

I think I commented again. I can’t remember. I was so enraged. This mother had been seeking advice and had opened herself up to comments dealing with mental health. In my opinion, depression and postpartum depression will not be cured by prayer. Some women need medication. And it’s okay. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

So I quit the Facebook group before I did something rash. I miss a small forum of moms that can answer questions, provide links to interesting articles and have compelling parenting conversations. Thankfully I know enough women in real life who are also new moms, so I turn to them on Twitter and Facebook for advice.

Are you part of a support group? I wish I had a real-life, in-person mommy group to turn to, but I fear we are all too busy vacuuming fish cracker crumbs and trying to stay awake past 9.

Down the Rabbit Hole

What Would I Say? is the new Facebook-connected app you’re probably already annoyed by on Facebook. But have you tried it? Don’t start unless you have at least 15 minutes to kill because it’s hilarious. It auto generates Facebook status updates based on stuff you’ve previously posted. 

I’m LOL-ing at 

  • “7 days until I discovered the ham.”
  • “Apparently it’s a full moon today.”
  • “Baby’s first book!”
  • “Marriage equality is shaping up to be on my phone, again.”
  • “However, the senators ran out of bed.”
  • “On the journey to boycott the place.”
  • “In college, I didn’t pack nearly enough help.”
  • “We’ll see Eat, Pray, Love it!”
  • “I didn’t want to get pregnant again.”
  • “Prayers for Season 2.”
  • “Hug a candle!”
  • “Just ordered my first scraped knees and honeymoon in Tehran.”
  • “It’s all about Iraq and foreign policy. Nothing’s changed.”
  • “The attorney who staffs the trains at Disney.”

and the best auto-generated Facebook status goes to “Downward facing choo choo.”

It’s a little creepy how well a computer could get to know me based on my Facebook statuses alone. 

Did you go down the rabbit hole? 

 

The Honeymoon That Wasn’t

I’ve briefly mentioned the honeymoon that didn’t happen on the blog, but lately I’ve been wondering if Twitter had existed in 2005, if the outcome would have been different. Knowing myself, I would have taken to social media to loudly protest my dismay.

It would have looked something like this:

@Virgin Atlantic Botched honeymoon bc Priceline issued wrong itinerary & ticket agent refusing to waive $100 change fee. Can you help?

 

@Priceline.com When we booked our honeymoon, you issued an itinerary from BWI to Heathrow. Flight actually leaves from Dulles, so we missed our flight. Can you help? Refund our money.

I would have found their Facebook pages and written about the whole emotionally exhausting experience. But Twitter didn’t exist yet. I wasn’t on Facebook. Did companies have MySpace profiles?

Here’s what happened:

We booked our honeymoon to London for December, after classes and exams were over, instead of going right after our wedding in August. We chose London because we had both fallen in love with the country while studying abroad there but had not had the chance to visit together. We used Priceline to book our package, which included airfare on Virgin Atlantic from Baltimore to Heathrow and 7 days hotel.

On Christmas Eve, we drove to Baltimore and arrived at the airport three hours before our flight. We parked in long-term parking and took the shuttle to the nearly empty international terminal. Guess what? Virgin Atlantic does not fly to Heathrow from Baltimore. Our Priceline printout clearly said BWI. But in actuality we were booked on a flight on Virgin Atlantic leaving from Dulles.

I got on the phone, calling Priceline, calling Virgin Atlantic, while we raced (as fast as an airport shuttle can go) back to our car, paid the parking garage fee, and drove as fast as we could to Dulles. It was Christmas Eve. The roads were practically empty. Virgin Atlantic promised that we would be able to make our flight, that they would make a note on the computer to let the ticket agent know we were on our way.

We got to Dulles and parked in short-term parking, running to the ticket counter. It was an hour and a half before our flight was scheduled to leave.

Dulles Airport has a strict two-hour rule. The ticket agent would not issue our boarding passes. I was sobbing. Greg was on the phone with Priceline but they were insisting it was our fault, even though they were clearly in the wrong. The ticket agent told us that while Virgin Atlantic did not fly on Christmas, he could issue new tickets for us for Boxing Day for a change fee of $100 each. Once we got there, we would have two less days at the pre-paid hotel.

Priceline continued to insist it was our fault and that there was nothing they could do. I called my parents, weeping into the phone. This long awaited honeymoon was not happening and our money was down the drain, or on a plane, boarding the flight to Heathrow as we stood in the airport. “Now boarding…,” we heard them call over the speakers. We were standing in the airport as our plane boarded, everyone refusing the help.

My dad spent hard-earned frequent flyer miles to put us on a plane – in business class – to fly home the next day.

I had just finished my first semester as a 2L in law school. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Visa, enclosing documentation. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Virgin Atlantic and Priceline, also enclosing documentation. Visa refunded us our money. Virgin Atlantic and Priceline remained silently guilty.

The following year we talked about going to London for Christmas. We pulled up flights and hotels online, almost ready to hit submit. We couldn’t do it.

We still haven’t been to a foreign country together.