If you happen to see me out, I'll probably be looking down at my phone. And I'm not playing a game, taking a call, or checking email… I'm updating my status on Facebook. You know, "Julie Moore is at Mellow Mushroom with Tom Moore." Then I'll post a photo of my beer… because… well… I'm a Facebook addict.
That's why I gave it up for Lent this year. I don’t really understand why we give things up for Lent, no matter how many times I read the explanation for it. I do know that you give up something you'll miss. And did I ever.
Facebook has always helped this extrovert bear the hours working alone at home. The camaraderie of the workplace is the thing I miss most about having a “real job,” so I use Facebook as my “water cooler.” Sure, it's not the same as face-to-face interaction with human beings – and physical comedy is pretty much out of the question – but Facebook is the next best thing. And through Facebook, I have made new friends around the world and caught up with people from my past. From old teachers to friends from kindergarten, I love knowing what these people are about these days.
I also tend to lean on Facebook to connect me to people, businesses and events here in the community. I have pretty much all the “information” I need in one place. And I use the term loosely here – hence the quotation marks. I get updates from local news sources and businesses, along with weather updates from Greg Fishel AND eyewitnesses from here and yon. I learn what people are saying about government and politics, see what the specials are at my favorite restaurants, peruse the photos a friend took at a show at the Haw River Ballroom, get anecdotes about everyone's children, guffaw at a hilarious meme from George Takei, and take a quiz to determine which “Game of Thrones” character I am.
And dang if I didn’t miss all of that during Lent – even the dumb stuff. I couldn't tell my friend Nina that the Fleshtones were playing at Local 506. I never got to see the gorgeous black and white, hand-developed photography that Holden posts from his morning walks. Holden's also good for puns and weather forecasts from Hillsborough. And not being able to read Todd's fascinating B-movie reviews left a gaping hole. And when I needed a break from work, I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I read every silly thing on Buzzfeed, and getting sucked into the Daily Mail and its fascination with celebrity cellulite is not good for anybody.
Another thing I missed: putting my own useless and pointless knowledge out there! It seemed weird to go to a show and not post a blurry, unrecognizable photo of the band. (True story: once I posted a photo of the stage at a show and one minute later a guy three people away in the crowd “Liked” it! Why I was looking at my phone instead of the world around me is another issue!) I also longed to tell people the hilarious thing my kid did, and to moan about how he had to build a school project with all-natural materials - ie. NO GLUE. I couldn’t post the shower song of the day, the daily a lo divino song or a pic of a handsome guy. Consequently, I found that I missed the constant affirmation. It seems I've grown addicted to having people “Like” the things I post. For the former not-so-popular girl at school, this is lifeblood. During my “fast” I had to go through the whole day without a thumbs up! It was disconcerting!
The worst part was the loneliness – I had to be my own water cooler! That said, I also gained through this experience – I learned to live without constant affirmation, without constantly knowing what just happened and who is “in a relationship.” I never had to worry about offending someone and being unfriended. I was more focused … less distracted. More aware of myself and (sometimes) of God. When I took a break from work sometimes I just sat there! It was strangely awesome.
I know you’re not supposed to call attention to the sacrifices you make – Jesus said you are supposed to go in your room and shut the door … I just thought I’d share it as a commentary on the weird wired-ness of our time.
Some critics say that people use social media as a substitute for human interaction, but I have found the opposite – I’m connected to people and the world in new and exciting ways. During Lent, I was forced to reconnect with myself, but … I’m glad to get back to my Facebook friends now.
Julie Moore is a graphic designer living in Chapel Hill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org