Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facebook Fast: giving up the social media site for 30 days

On September 10th, I am going to quit Facebook for 30 days. A social media cleansing. A Facebook Fast. I need to a take a break.

On an average day: I come home from work. I open up my laptop. I log on to Facebook. It only takes 5 minutes to read notifications, respond to messages, accept friend requests. However, I continue to sit on Facebook browsing photos, wall posts, and worst of all playing mini games. While I may eat a meal, watch a documentary, watch youtube videos, or read articles at the same time, Facebook is constantly open in the background.

I will admit my real 'need' for Facebook is less social, and more promotional. I use Facebook as a means to promote my true passion in life, being a visual artist. Facebook helps me tell friends about artwork for sale, art show opening, events, gain inspiration and collaborate with other artists. It is only a bonus that I can keep up with friends and make new ones along the way. But, especially since returning to Minnesota, the amount of time I spend logged on to Facebook is alarming to me. I am actually very anti-Facebook, I even have this bumper sticker on my car:

'Facebook Erodes Real Communties. Let's stop staring at screens and talk to our neighbors. Organize a potluck. Start playing music with friends. Go for a bike ride. Learn to start fire with sticks.' This was made by a friend of mine, and I really agree with it. However, I am a massive hypocrite when I step out of my car and sit down in front of my computer.

The sticker shares space with my 'Coexist' bumber sticker and my 'I heart (lobster) Maine' sticker.

It also sits right below my 'Fear No Art' bumper sticker.

I will admit that Facebook makes loneliness a little less bitter. I am a nearly 30 year old artist, with no kids, and no wife; and I am not complaining about it. I can easily to find myself alone in front of the computer spilling hours of my life into something I do not believe in. Facebook is an easy fall back, and creates a false feeling of connection to people when you are away from them. The transition from the Midwest to Maine and back again has been difficult for many reasons, and for some reason the last few weeks of my life I am resorting to Tetris and digging for imaginary digital treasure instead of doing to thousands of things I want to be doing with my life.

During my Facebook Fast I will refocus my life and set new goals. This means that you will see a lot more posts being created on my art blog. Hopefully I will have more to say, and more time to say it.


PureNoumena said...

Hi William,

While I admire your decision to take a break, (Sabbaths are healthy, in my opinion), I disagree with the statement "Facebook erodes real communities."

To the contrary, for me and many others at least, Facebook has allowed communities - like Altered Esthetics and others - to connect with other individuals and artists. It is a means for connecting, not a replacement of actual connections. While I agree with the second part of your bumper sticker, I think it assumes that a person is doing one in lieu of the other. My father in law and some of my older relatives make that same assumption, but it couldn't be further from the truth.

I suppose it is a question of balance. If you find you are spending too much time on Facebook, then it is definitely healthy to take a break. I hope you are able to find a balance that is a good fit for you.

Took said...

Good for you, William -- and good luck!

I could not beeeee-leeeeeeve how much time I used to put into FB games (especially the dreaded Farmville). Man.

I applaud you and support your FB Fast.

williamhessian said...

Pure, I actually had a similar response to the bumper sticker you did, when first presented with it. And I do agree with all that you have said. I could easily try to give up Facebook altogether instead of just 30 days, but I also find value in it for many of the reasons you mentioned. I need to remind myself of what I want to put into and get from it. Balance is very important.

My fast is an attempt to right the unbalances I have with the site.

Thanks Took and Pure for your comments.

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. I agree with you. All to often I lament that my peers live their lives so indirectly with others. While visagetome is a wonderful vehicle for social connectivity, sharing, and virtual community -- it's just that, virtual. At least for me. I will admit, though, that I tend to be far more reclusive than most.

In the past few years I began to deeply resent online socialization, etc., because it seems to have become the only (or most effective) way of connecting, getting someone's attention, or making an impression. I don't get much out of connecting with others online, it lacks power of presence and often feels illusory to me.

When I'm spending time with someone and they're making a point to check appearancepamphlet rather than asking me about my day, I start to question who/what I'm spending time with (if it's that at all).

Thank you for posting this. I am inspired, or, happily considering this joyous cause (excuse?) to "fall of the edge of world" again, as many of my online friends refer to my facebook sabbaticals.

Facebook and similar social media outlets are valuable tools. But I think the tool is often mistaken for the work.

- W. Henry-Elwell

thetoymaker said...

Hey Billy! Keep me posted on your non-computer world adventures.

I have a bunch of trips out into the big blue room planned this September too. I'll be in Saint Paul in a couple of weeks for a conference then on to San Francisco for an art show. Wish me luck!

Here's to stepping outside the comfort zone.

Hugs, MSW.

williamhessian said...

MSW, when you come to the twin cities let me know. I'd love to come meet with you, if you have a spare minute or two!