Last week I spoke about inventions. One thing I didn’t mention was Facebook which, in theory, could be considered an invention. Initially, it was created so college students could meet each other, but it has grown to be so much more than that. There are support groups on Facebook, there are cooking groups on Facebook, there are businesses that have been built solely on Facebook. If you wanted to, you could spend your entire day on Facebook. This is a good thing if you have no place to go, but a bad thing if you start neglecting your family and haven’t showered in a month.
A year ago, my boys decided that I needed to go off Facebook. Their reasoning was somewhere between the spending too much time on it and the not showering. (To be clear, I never neglected my family or didn’t shower. And if I did neglect my family, it had nothing to do with Facebook and everything to do with the fact that they take me totally for granted, but that is for another time.)
It has been almost a year since my brief stint off Facebook. My kids told me that it wasn’t good for me, which it isn’t in some regards, and they said my deadline was right after my birthday. You see, for those of you who aren’t on Facebook, or don’t know what Facebook is or have been living in a cave and can’t get help because you have no internet, Facebook birthdays are the best.
You see, Facebook lets everyone know that it is your birthday — so people wish you a happy birthday. Some people even go out of their way to send you a special message. This is what I try to do for other people’s birthdays. Just a “happy birthday” is very nice, but to spend an extra few seconds to wish them all the happiness in the world, or say something personal, really can make all the difference. My boys know how desperate I am for attention and love, so they wanted me to celebrate my birthday on Facebook, and then they were making me go off cold turkey.
People, let me tell you something. Facebook is an addiction. Like drinking or gambling, you become addicted to Facebook. I was not happy. Not only did they make me go off of Facebook, but they randomly unfriended a whole bunch of my Facebook “friends,” figuring that, since I was going off anyway, it was okay for me to unfriend people. This did not end well. For many reasons. The first and most important reason was because I only lasted off Facebook for a week and a half. It turned out that the week I was off Facebook was the week that my brother surprised me and sent me to Israel for three days. What was I to do without Facebook? If someone goes to Israel and doesn’t post any pictures, did they really go to Israel?
Well, it was in the Holy Land that I discovered Instagram. Another addiction. I would explain it to you, but I as I wrote last week, I can’t because I don’t really understand it. I know people can post “Insta-stories,” which are 30-second stories that disappear after a few hours (or a few days, I am not really sure). Or you can post pictures on Instagram. Which I did, because without Facebook, what was I supposed to do?
Yes, I admit, I have a problem and I am pathetic. But at least I can admit it. So I posted on Instagram and I followed people on Instagram. Following is like being someone’s Facebook friend. There are celebrities who have thousands of followers. I am not a celebrity. So I have only a few followers. And really, who wants to see a picture of the geese in Votee Park? (That was my most recent Insta-story.)
Back to what happened that fateful week last November when I went off Facebook. People take it personally when you unfriend them. Sometimes I have valid reasons for unfriending people. 1. They aren’t really my friends and they annoy me. 2. They express their political views in an extremely horrible manner. And 3. I just don’t like them. But when their kids unfriend people at random, there is no reason.
And for some reason, a lot of these people realized that I unfriended them. And they weren’t happy. In any event, I didn’t last even two weeks off Facebook. How could I survive without knowing what people I have nothing to do with are doing? How could my day begin without seeing pictures of random kids’ first day of school, lost tooth, or another unsuccessful attempt at potty training?
I had the shakes. I just couldn’t handle it. So back on Facebook I went. Maybe one day I will go off again and realize that life is about real experiences, not manufactured ones…
Actually, I do know that, so perhaps that is why Facebook isn’t such a bad thing — as long as you know your own reality.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck did have a wonderful birthday, both on Facebook and in real life. Nothing like eating dinner in Washington Heights…