Three Years After Facebook

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One of my friends whom I have known for almost twenty years lost her house in a fire a few weeks ago. This is someone with whom I also worked at two different places of employment. At one job, she was my supervisor, at another job, I was her’s. Even though we no longer work together, we have remained friends through the years and many different life events.

My friend was fortunate in that she, her husband, and all three of their dogs were able to escape the fire safely. The house, however, is a complete loss taking multiple fire departments over 12 hours to battle the blaze. The fire made both local and regional news channels at stations 60 miles away.

I spent some time over the weekend talking with my friend trying to figure out how to best help her. I can’t imagine what it is like to lose absolutely everything. Many people think that minimalism is some cold-hearted philosophy that centers around getting rid of everything and having empty rooms.

While I do have empty rooms, minimalism is not about getting rid of everything. Minimalism is about surrounding yourself with what you truly love and focusing on who matters in life. I simply cannot imagine losing everything like that. What I have in my house is only what I love and what brings me happiness.

During this conversation with my friend, one of the comments she made stuck with me.

She said that she was glad I had reached out to her because she had been thinking about how my Christmas card and letters were next to her chair.

Since deleting my Facebook account three years ago come the first week of February, I have been focusing more on being present in my relationships. I want the people in my life to know that they matter to me by receiving my complete attention when I am with them. I don’t want to miss out on the important moments in life because I am too busy scrolling through a social media feed or trying to get the right photo to post online.

This blog is my only form of social media. I have no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no LinkedIn, nothing.

Three years after deleting my Facebook account, I still have no regrets. I could not be happier with my choice.

Back to my friend … this person is one that I try to send a card to either monthly or every few months. There are a few people in my life that I write to on a regular basis to keep in touch since I am no longer on Facebook.

I do not often get a response from the people I write. That’s fine. Life is busy between work, kids, and life. I totally get that.

What really touched me about my friend’s comment was the knowledge that she actually reads my cards I send every so often. Not only that, but she seems to look forward to them.

She lost absolutely everything in her home and one of her (I’m sure many) thoughts was, “oh, your letters were right next to my chair.” I’m sure her thought stemmed more from remembering her house and the familiarity of it than from my actual letters.

I told her I would send her another card. I did. I tried to keep it light with little to no house stuff. I’m pretty sure one of my last cards was full of first-time homeowner news (like my lawn mower adventures last fall) and I’m sure that’s the last thing she wants to hear about right now.

Now, if I had been on Facebook, I would have known about the fire a lot sooner than I did. Apparently, she posted it to Facebook about an hour into the blaze.

I truly don’t understand how people can have the emotional strength to not only live their life, but actively report on their own personal tragedy while it is happening. It’s not a judgement, it’s just an observation of something that I no longer understand.

When I had a Facebook, I remember doing the same thing. Every inane thought and one-liner to major life events was documented online. For me, social media made everything become more dramatic that it needed to be. It’s like jumping up and down in the middle of the street screaming “look at me!”

I, personally, am so happy to have the drama removed from my life. I have enough drama at work. I don’t need drama in the virtual realm as well.

Three years post-Facebook, and I don’t miss it at all. I still get the weird looks and comments of “you should be on Facebook.” I don’t think so. Sure, I may miss out on things by not being online. It takes me a bit longer to learn things when my news sources are the paper (yes, paper) newspaper and the radio. However, I still keep in touch with the important people in my life and know what is going on with them.

I treasure my relationships more because I actually put forth effort into maintaining them. It’s one thing to mindlessly scroll through your phone pushing the “like” button or typing “I’m so sorry” giving virtual support and quite another thing to actually pick up the phone and ask someone “How are you? How can I help?” and then physically, emotionally and spiritually help them.

Community is what happens in real life. Who is going to be there for you when there is no wifi?

Recently, I have heard that some people are choosing to delete Facebook due to the privacy drama going on. Drama is still drama. It has been there since the beginning of Facebook. It’s just a question of what kind of drama you are willing to put up with and how much of it. Apparently, people have a lower tolerance for privacy drama than for emotional drama.

I’ve spoken with some people who rely on social media for information, and no matter what happens will not delete their accounts. That’s fine. To each their own.

There is a certain fear of missing out (FOMO). For some people, FOMO is real. They will not get rid of social media due to FOMO. For me, I can say that when I was on Facebook, there was no FOMO. I did miss out. Big time. I missed out on important things in my life and I missed out on people who were right in front of me due to my preoccupation with social media.

Three years post-Facebook, I don’t feel as though I am missing out on anything. I am present for the important people in my life. For those of you who stay on social media due to FOMO, think about what you may be missing in real life by using social media.

Social media does have it’s merits. As someone who lives in a rural area, I can see how social media would be helpful for people who feel isolated. Just keep in mind are you using social media to connect, or are you isolating the people around you in real life by using social media?

Social media use is a personal decision for everyone. I’m just here to tell you that if you are thinking about deleting social media, you are not alone. I have done it and am much happier for it.

Every so often, you will hear about a social media experiment where someone agrees to go off social media for a year or so, sometimes to get some money. There are articles on the internet about going a year without Facebook. In fact, I did a blog post about it. Part of the reason why I did a follow-up post in year two and now in year three is to show that leaving social media is sustainable.

It is not only sustainable, but my stress levels have decreased and my happiness has increased since leaving social media.

While it may have taken me a little bit longer to find out about my friend’s situation without social media, once I found out, that does not change my reaction to what happened. Without social media occupying my time, I actually have time to respond to my friend in a caring way beyond just a comment on a post. I have time to be there for someone in real life who needs a friend. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about?

Three years after Facebook. I have no regrets.

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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It has been almost 2 months since I completely deleted my Facebook account, and I have absolutely no regrets. Not only have I had no desire to log in, scroll through a newsfeed, or create a new account, but also I am so much happier without Facebook. I do not feel that I am missing out on anything. I get the news, the weather, and am an informed citizen who gets my information through other formats. I am aiming to simplify all aspects of my life, and my technology use has been reduced to this blog, my email, and my cell phone.

There are some people with whom I communicated via Facebook, and I do miss those people. I will admit that I am disappointed in some of my so-called friends who cannot seem to pick up a phone to contact me without Facebook. Facebook is the modern day version of voyeurism. It is the lazy mans way of communication. Why put effort into talking to people when you can simply swipe through some “friends” on your phone? (Can you detect the sarcasm here?)

I have gone back to old-school basics of letter writing. You know, that paper and pen snail mail kind of communication that starts out “Dear Pen Pal,” or whomever.

This has enriched my relationships. I have to consciously take the time to sit down to compose a letter or card to an individual, and I personalize my message for the person to whom I am writing. It is so much more engaging than posting some vague status update and waiting for notifications or “likes.”

There is some excitement in getting return letters as well. Admit it – as an adult, mail service sucks. No one likes the mail because it tends to contain either bills or junk mail. Most people nowadays pay their bills online. When we open the box and there is a lovely handwritten envelope from a loved one or friend, there is a certain amount of glee that happens. We may even skip back to the house from the mailbox. Maybe not. I could be going overboard.

When writing a handwritten letter, we can send a whimsical card or notepaper. Who doesn’t like school supplies? Why use an impersonal emoji when you can use stationary to exhibit our own personal flair? We can even draw our own designs instead of using some computer-generated graphic.

There is so much more feeling and so much more meaning when we take time out of our busy days and busy lives to send someone a birthday card or a get-well card. It is a personal, thoughtful touch that will be remembered more than an impersonal post on someone’s wall. In fact, many people post on other people’s walls as a public display of some type of behavior – the same gesture done privately would mean so much more. Facebook puts relationships on display that should remain between individuals and not necessarily subject to public view and comment.

Handwritten cards and letters can be kept and read again when we are feeling down or need a reminder of how someone feels about us. Do you get that same feeling when scrolling through a newsfeed? Research has shown that Facebook has a tendency to make people depressed more than it brings people up. I have yet to see any research that proclaims positive aspects of Facebook. Yes, I understand that people have their reasons for using Facebook, and that there are positives to the platform that people find individually. Yet there is no research showing widespread positivity, only negative outcomes and influences. For example, more divorces than ever are listing Facebook as a reason for the divorce. Should we really be putting our personal relationships on view for the world?

The lost art of letter writing allows personal relationships to remain personal. Often, when we write a letter or card to someone, it is for that person only. It is not like we take out the letter and read it around the break room at work or stand on a street corner reading it for everyone to hear. We may sometimes share snippets of letters with others who know the same individual. Yet it is rare that we will read the entire volume to everyone else in our life.

What would happen if you randomly sent a handwritten letter or card to one of your close friends or family members? Would they be shocked? Surprised? Would it make them smile? Joy is the point of rediscovering the lost art of letter writing. Yes, it may be an antiquated method of communication, but can you tell me that you do not smile when you receive a letter or card in the mail?

Slowing down our lives for quality human connection is essential. Today’s breakneck pace of life takes away from our relationships. There are more divorces, more single people, more people alone than at any point in human history. Yet we are more “connected” than ever before. The Internet is a great tool, but the connections are often superfluous.

Increase the quality of human connection by discovering the lost art of letter writing. See who we can make smile by doing so.