A few months ago, I saw a video online called Look Up. It’s stuck with me since then. And it’s made me stop and ask myself, “Is Facebook consuming my life?” It’s the first site I surf to when break time rolls around at work. It’s my home page on my personal laptop. It’s open virtually any time I’m holding my phone. My answer seemed to be a resounding yes! Until last week. I had the privilege to be on vacation. A full five days away from the office to spend at home with Rylin, my 15-month-old. (Yes, I’m that mom. The one who counts her child’s age in months. But I promise to only do it until she’s 2.) And I thought to myself, “Self, now is the time. No Facebook for a week.”
I dreamed of what a week away from Facebook would be like. There wouldn’t be any political rants to get under my skin. Or eternally pessimistic friends to get my spirits down. Granted, there also wouldn’t be any photos of my friends’ adorable children or internet memes of wrinkly pug puppies wearing tutus, either. I had lofty ideas of how I’d spend my time while Rylin napped; I’d scrub the bathrooms until they shined and make my own laundry detergent. I’d have sumptuous dinners waiting on the table when my husband Chris returned from work. I’d read more. I’d finally get those family photos into an album. I’d learn Italian. (Okay. Maybe not that lofty.) Still, it was going to be great.
Sunday night, true to my personal vows, I returned home from a family beach trip, posted a couple of photos to my profile, updated my cover photo, and signed off.
Resisting the urge to open Facebook on my phone first thing in the morning, as I usually do, was difficult. After breakfast and “Rhyme Time” (a half hour of nursery rhymes and songs for children Ry’s age hosted by the librarians at our local library), and a bit of playing, it was nap time. I did laundry. I checked my email to find a notification that my brother-in-law, who had been with us at the beach the day before, had tagged me on Facebook in a photo. I imagined it was a photo of Ry playing in the sand and wished I could see it.
It was rough but I made it through Facebook-free. That night, I think Chris could tell how much it was irking me to not be online. (Maybe it was the nervous tics?) He sat on the couch next to me scrolling through his news feed smugly.
“There’s BIG news happening and you don’t know about it because you’re not on Facebook,” he said.
“Suuuuure,” I rolled my eyes.
Still, he insisted. “I’m serious.”
“What’s this ‘big news’ that’s going on?” I asked.
“Robin Williams is dead.”
I didn’t believe him. We went back and forth for a full minute—me insisting he was joking and him insisting he wasn’t. Finally, I googled and confirmed. “Holy shit! Robin Williams is dead! THIS is what happens when I take a week off of Facebook? I kill Robin Williams? Who’s next?!”
I came to a startling realization that we have three social events that coming weekend, two of which were being organized on Facebook. “I’ll have to have Chris check his events calendar for the starting times,” I told myself. Dinner was ready when he got home. More laundry got done but the house was no cleaner than it was over the weekend. I finished the book I was reading before bed.
My day began at 5:19am when I was woken by the faint calling of “Momma….” I opened my eyes and became acutely aware of the fact that the air conditioner was off. The ceiling fan was off. The video monitor was off. Thank goodness for the battery backup in the audio monitor or I never would’ve heard Ry; we had no power. I tiptoed upstairs to close the office door across the hall from Ry’s room, hoping it would muffle the beeping sound that likely woke her. It worked. She fell back to sleep and I thanked my lucky stars for a little more sleep.
Back in bed, I couldn’t sleep, though. I was too worried about why the power was out. I checked the weather app on my phone to see if storms were in the area; nope, just rain. I peered out the window to see if the neighbors had power; nope, all dark out there, too. My next order of business would normally be to pull up Facebook to see who else was in the dark. I had a moment of panic. “How do I know how long it’s going to be? How many people are without power? What if no one else has reported the outage yet?” I then realized that Facebook is not the end all and be all of reporting power outages. A quick visit to our power company’s website later, I knew that a whopping 24 customers were without power and the power company was already working to restore it. It came back on about 40 minutes later and I was able to catch some more z’s.
After three full days home with Ry, I was exhausted. My energy was no match for her. I napped while she napped. “Those damn photo albums have waited this long, they can wait a little longer,” I thought.
During afternoon play time, Ry looked at me and clear as day said, “I did it.” I was psyched! It was her first three-word sentence and certainly something to celebrate. I wished I could’ve posted a status update about it so everyone would know what a smartypants I birthed. But I couldn’t. So I decided I’d just call someone to tell them about it. And suddenly it didn’t seem momentous enough to warrant a call to anyone in particular for JUST that purpose. I imagined calling a friend to report the news and the pregnant pause that would follow my announcement when they wanted to say, “Okay, well, thanks for calling.” Instead, I waited to tell Chris when he got home. I was too tired to cook. We had take-out for dinner.
After Chris’s work day ended, we took a very cranky Rylin to play at the playground at our local library. If I were on Facebook, I would’ve private messaged a couple of our friends who also have toddlers to invite them to join us. And maybe even posted a picture of them playing. Instead, we had fun just the three of us and Ry made friends with another 15-month-old girl named Charlotte.
While chatting with a friend before Zumba that morning, she asked, “Are you back on Facebook yet?” I shook my head. “Oh,” she said, “well then you didn’t get the link I shared to your page. The Pooch Plunge is on the 25th.” I thanked her for the reminder because our golden retriever would’ve never forgiven me if I forgot.
That afternoon, we took Rylin to Magic Wings, where we’d be attending a wedding that evening. After walking around for a bit, we stopped at the food court to grab a snack. Chris pulled out his phone and began checking his news feed. “Cute. Today was Aiden’s birthday,” he commented.
“I’m. An. ASSHOLE!” I exclaimed. Chris didn’t understand what was wrong so I explained, “We were supposed to go to his party. I told them we’d stop in quickly before we left for the wedding. I can’t believe I forgot!”
I felt terrible and wanted to call Tonya, Aiden’s mom and a lifelong family friend of mine, to apologize for having missed the party. I took out my phone, opened my contacts, and….”HOW DO I NOT HAVE TONYA’S PHONE NUMBER?!”
The three of us had plans to attend a friend’s barbecue. Chris had to check his events calendar to confirm the start time because all I could remember was that I’d agreed to bring a veggie platter. Ry napped through the party’s start time and after yesterday’s blunder, I didn’t want to not notify the hosts that we’d be late. Text message, it was. After the barbecue, I received an email notification that one of the hosts tagged me in a status update and immediately felt out of the loop.
Back to the grind. I went back to work and Ry returned to daycare. When I arrived to pick her up at daycare in the afternoon, I found her sitting in the dirt pit—like a sandbox but instead of sand it’s dirt. She was raking dirt around, digging her fingers into it, and sipping it from an empty Adobo container. I wish I were kidding. She was FILTHY from head to toe. But smiling the biggest smile ever and she passed out cold on the way home; these are both two sure signs of a fantastic day.
She went directly into the bath tub when we got home. After bath, I fed her dinner and put her to bed. When Chris got home from work I said, “If I was on Facebook, I totally would’ve posted a picture of Ry. She was dirtier than I’ve ever seen her.”
Chris laughed and said, “I feel like you’re taking this no-Facebook thing too far.”
“I’ll go back on tomorrow. Maybe,” I promised. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t take the picture anyway.
I found what I believe to be the coolest website ever made. It’s a travel agency for stuffed animals. I know. You’re saying, “Whaaaaaat?!” Just hear me out. You purchase a “tour package” on their website then mail them your stuffed animal. They’ll then take photos of your stuffed animal enjoying its vacation. When your stuffed animal comes home, it’s accompanied by a CD of photos of the adventure. I immediately wished a) Ry was old enough to find her stuffed animals traipsing around Japan to be entertaining and b) I could tell people about it.
So I told Chris. I don’t think he appreciated it half as much as I did.
“I would’ve put it on Facebook. You know…if I were on Facebook,” I told him.
“Would you just go on Facebook already?!” he smiled.
Well. Here I am. On Facebook. And after a week (plus) without logging in, I see more of the good in it. It’s a means to share what’s important to me in a way that isn’t invasive to others. It’s a good way to organize my social life. It’s how I often contact people. It’s the manner in which I get my news. And what’s wrong with any of that?
Instead of nixing social networking altogether, I’m now thinking about cleaning up my profile a bit…maybe make use of the filters Facebook provides to help me sort my friends into groups and help me hide some of the content that I really don’t want to see. Or start to drop people off of my friends list if necessary.
Hello, Facebook. I’ve missed you!