Should You Get Off or Stay On Facebook?

Every so often I ask myself:
Should I just disconnect from Facebook?

Facebook can be annoying at times, if you know what I mean.

Should-I-Stay-on-Facebook?

Drawbacks of Facebook

Do you relate to these common complaints about how Facebook or any social media can make you feel?

  • That your own life is boring
  • That you’re not doing enough good for other people
  • That you’re overwhelmed by the news worldwide
  • That you have less friends than other people
  • That you can’t be your real self
  • That you’re helpless to solve your friends’ problems/sicknesses/complaints
  • That you’re left out of fun things
  • That your pictures aren’t getting enough likes
  • That you’re overloaded with information/advertising/opinions
  • That you should or shouldn’t have posted this or that
  • That you’re wasting too much time online

But for those of us who didn’t grow up having to make anything Facebook-official or host a Pinterest-perfect party, we can (sort of) put these things into perspective when they grow unwieldly.

But our kids?

Young People on Social Media

I recently finished previewing Donna Freitas’ book on how social media is driving young people. She wrote The Happiness Effect (not yet released) after compiling research from her interviews with college students.

The-Happiness-Effect-Donna-Freitas

The news is sobering indeed.

On the plus side, she that we don’t have as much to worry about as the press might lead us to believe:

“I feel confident in saying that the social media world is a far less scary place overall than the press would have us believe, and that the young adults with whom I spoke are as smart and thoughtful as ever.”

But on the negative side, her research revealed many large problems anyway, including this main one:

“One unifying and central theme emerged as the most pressing social media issue students face: The importance of appearing happy.”

The students shared story after story about how they manage their online images.

  • How their families would freak out if they post anything sad.
  • How they freak out themselves if their posts don’t get enough attention.
  • How they worry about future employers looking at their timelines.
  • How the most vulnerable online take the hardest hits.
  • How they think they have to be available at all times.

For example:

“I ask what seems like an obvious question: Why keep posting if you can’t really be honest? Cherese laughs at my naiveté.

If she doesn’t keep posting things, she explains, then people also become concerned. Posting, in general, is like ‘a public appearance,’ she says. You have to pop up every once in a while to prove you are okay.”

~ * ~

“I ask Brandy why she thinks the online version of the self isn’t a ‘true’ version. ‘Because it’s not real,’ she answers simply. And here we come back around—as all my interviews seem to do—to the issue of appearing happy.”

~ * ~

“The requirement to appear happy all the time is hard to fulfill when you are going through a tough time. A painful breakup is also a reason some people quit their social media accounts for a while—if not permanently—simply so they don’t have to broadcast the process of separation.”

Yes to Phones

But despite all the problems, the kids don’t want to give up their phones.

Neither do I. I don’t want to go back to a time when smartphones weren’t around.

A better solution is to improve how we manage our smartphones. Several of the college students are already learning by trial and error.

“Yet the children coming up are mapping out their lives and experiences in this unbelievably new sphere regardless of its unknowns, because it is where our world is headed, and where their lives have begun. And soon, growing up online will be all anyone knows.

But this generation is the test generation, the one that faces working out all the kinks and complications, while we—their parents, coaches, teachers, mentors, professors, admissions officers, bosses, and future employers—are likewise faced with helping them through this massive cultural shift as best we can.”

Freitas reminds my generation that photo albums were our highlight reels. We only included the pictures we wanted and only showed them to people who were closest to us. It didn’t mean we were a fraud for not including the close-eyed photos nor that we were snobbish for not showing the whole world.

Better Boundaries

Can we help young adults understand similar boundaries in the digital world? That they don’t have to hide their true feelings, but that they also aren’t obligated to post every (or any!) feeling they have online?

Establishing healthy boundaries is something we all can help each other do.

  • Faculty often ban technological devices in their classrooms.
  • Parents ask cellphones to be turned off during certain hours.
  • Chick-fil-A gives free ice cream for not using your phone while eating.

My daughter Jenna and I ate at Chick-fil-A last night and saw the cell phone coops and the Family Challenge. (But I failed to see it until after I’d already checked my email. Oops.)

chick-fil-a-cell-phone-coop

Obviously those of us at any age need periodic fasting from our devices, even if it’s only while we share a meal.

I’ll likely continue to have a love/hate relationship with social media.

But for now, I’m staying on because the good outweighs the bad.

  • I get to see pictures of my nieces and nephews who live far away.
  • I hear who is engaged and who is having babies.
  • I pick up prayer requests for those with illness or heartaches.
  • I see where God is working in friends’ lives.
  • I get encouraged to memorize scripture, to help in my community, and to see what my sisters are bringing to the next family meal.

Social media isn’t going away. Let’s learn to use it wisely so we don’t get used by it. Use it to encourage, to support, and to better love and be loved.

May God bless Facebook.

* * *

Which social media is your favorite? When do you disconnect? Please share your thoughts on social media in the comments.

Related:

18 thoughts on “Should You Get Off or Stay On Facebook?

  1. Deb Wolf

    Wow, great post, Lisa. Thanks for sharing all of the thoughts from the students perspectives. I agree. It appears the challenge is here to stay, so learning how to find balance is essential. Just becoming detached from our phones and connecting IRL for a while each day is a great place to start.
    Deb Wolf recently posted…Important Truth from The Faith Project AdventureMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Deb. The best play to start is to look around us at those that are here in person! They deserve our first and best attention, and I’m guilty of not always giving it to them.

  2. floyd

    Interesting stuff. Good point about the old fashioned photo albums rarely showed the sad or ugly side of life. None of our girls seem to be overly smitten with any social media. I’ve haven’t been able to log onto my FB account for a while. I figure it’s just as well.
    floyd recently posted…NOT FOR LONGMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s good that your girls aren’t addicted to social media. My oldest has a propensity for spending too much time on Facebook, so she has chosen to disconnect her account altogether. I miss not having her there, but I’m proud of her for making that decision. I can always find her on Snapchat instead. ha.

  3. Jerralea

    Interesting read, Lisa! You are right, social media is not going away. Each of us need to decide how much a part of our lives will be involved with social media.

    Of course, you know I’m an avid blogger! But Facebook is the only way I know what our extended family is doing … they are not chatty, like me!

    It does disturb me that we all feel we have to present a happy face to the world. I am normally a happy person, but I’m more interested in being authentic.
    Jerralea recently posted…My JustifierMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m with you, Jerralea, on both spending time in the blogging world and staying connected with extended family on Facebook. I don’t keep much else in my newsfeed; I don’t want to spend too much time there and I know I’m tempted to if there’s stuff to read. 🙂 Yay for authenticity! I’m with you there, too.

  4. Sue Donaldson

    great post, lisa — and I agree with your conclusions– it’s not a big deal to me but sometimes when people rant I think, This is not the place and move right on over. I just created a FB hospitality group just because it was the easiest method to get people “discussing” and “meeting” over a simple tuna salad recipe (pretty funny) – so for that alone, I’m thankful. (You’re invited, btw – welcomeheartparty
    Sue Donaldson recently posted…When Hospitality is Grunt WorkMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for the invite, Sue. I’ll check it out. I’ve found that groups can be a very encouraging way to use Facebook! They’re usually more personal and focused. I don’t like reading lots of rants either. 🙁

  5. Jennifer Dougan

    Hi Lisa,

    I think intentionality and careful thought is always a good idea when it comes to fb. I was just struck by the realization that it’s too easy for me to mindlessly keep coming back to check for anything new, and then that’s not good use of my time. Otherwise, careful moderated use can be a helpful tool for me with my youth group teens, and relatives who are further away.

    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com
    Jennifer Dougan recently posted…Of Fish, and Friends, and Fresh-Cut Grass: Freezing Summer FastMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It definitely is an easy time-killer to just flit over to FB for “a minute” and then end up staying much longer. 🙁 It’s easier if I just don’t go at all except at more designated times. “Careful moderated use” definitely sounds like the way to go for me, too. Thanks, Jennifer.

  6. Linda Stoll

    Hi Lisa … I’ve often thought how glad I am that social media / smart phones weren’t around when my kids were little … it all would definitely intruded on my attempts to mother my girls. I don’t know that I would have managed it well, to be honest.

    And I get concerned for the next generation who have never known what life is like with out the incessant invitation to connect.

    Creating parameters, boundaries, whatever is essential … and not that hard. It’s the keeping of them that’s an awesome challenge.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking piece …
    Linda Stoll recently posted…This Friend is Serving Up a Bountiful FeastMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m so thankful, too, that I didn’t have this temptation when my children were young. It’s hard enough now! ha. Yes, keeping the boundaries is definitely more difficult than setting them. 🙁

  7. June

    I have a love/hate relationship with FB too, but your reasons for staying on are the same as mine. Honestly, I don’t relate to any of the drawbacks listed, but I can see how the younger generation definitely would. More restaurants should encourage non-use of cell phones during the meal. My husband and I are constantly amazed when we go out to eat. We consistently see families eating together, while being totally disconnected from each other. It’s sad. Great awareness post, Lisa!
    June recently posted…Inspired by . . . June – a look backMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Maybe we’re past the age to care about how many ‘likes’ we get. ha. I didn’t relate to all those reasons either (or maybe I’m just too stubborn to be pushed into posting everything on FB!). But I often feel overwhelmed by tragedies and sad things that are shared there, and it can suck away too much of my time. Balance.

      I see families do that too—everyone on their phones instead of being with each other. 🙁 We all have much to learn still.

  8. Lori

    Since we can’t do away with social media and cell phones (we could IF we really wanted to), we need to set boundaries. Thankfully, my son hasn’t been on his FB account in several years, it doesn’t appeal to him. Imagine that! And since he doesn’t have a permanent job to pay for continual cell phone usage himself, he doesn’t have one. I have actually been thinking about closing my FB account down again; it really is a hindrance to the things that are important.

    As a family, there is no phone (my husband is the only one who has one) or other technology being used during meals, in the evening before bed, and before and after church.

    This is quite thought provoking, Lisa. Our generation needs to wake up and see the effects social media is having our their children. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.
    Lori recently posted…The Christ, the Saviour of the WorldMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sounds like you have really good boundaries in place for social media use, Lori. Good for you! You’re right that IF we really wanted to, we could still do away with it all. When our electricity goes out, and batteries discharge, we learn that we CAN still live without it. 🙂

  9. saleslady371

    I’m like you–the good outweighs the bad so I’m staying on but I see how it distracts me a lot of the times. I couldn’t bear not seeing photos of my grandchildren and all that they’re involved in and wouldn’t expect my daughter to have to single me out separately if I didn’t join in; she is just too busy. I like the private messaging too because my home location is not ideal for cell phones so I can connect fast that way.
    saleslady371 recently posted…Testimony TimeMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We’re on the same page, Mary. The good still outweighs the bad for me, too, so I’m keeping my social media for now. Who knows how long Facebook will be around anyway? It’s hard to imagine how we kept in touch without it, but somehow we did. 🙂 Have a great 4th!


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