After speaking in a lighthearted way about Facebook addiction for the last couple of years, I finally got serious and quit the personal account.
Two years ago I ditched almost all of Facebook and just kept a couple of writers groups thinking I’d be on the site less. If “on less” means pretty much the whole day, I was right. If it doesn’t, I was wrong.
(Obviously, I was wrong.)
But I was also wrong about staying on Facebook because of the “venting” and “relaxing” I did in my writers groups, which were the way I white-washed gossip and … naughty talk, for lack of better word. For the most part it was just an off color punch line, here and there, when other writers left themselves open to it. I don’t have the most control over my tongue (in this case, fingertips.)
I’ve read James more than say, 100 times, so I know that’s a real problem, but…online? Out of the public eye? Where it didn’t disappoint readers or embarrass church friends? It couldn’t be wrong to let myself go a little online, in a secret group, could it?
Er. Yes. It could. Because when things went too far (for me) I didn’t have the moral high ground (for lack of better word) to ask for a cleaner environment, when I tried. My friends called foul.
That alone wasn’t all that bad, but it was online, and people can’t see or hear you really, so, while I was just sort of, asking…you know? Not panicked, not mad, just conversationally asking, people got really upset. First they were upset at someone wanting to censor them, but others were upset thinking they had hurt me deeply in some way, which they hadn’t wanted to do.
It’s so hard to have a nuanced conversation online where parts of what you say are lighthearted and parts are more serious (case in point, the conversation I had about cemeteries with a friend who had just gotten a cancer diagnosis. Not my shiniest moment of clear communication, I can tell you.)
But because it was online, I really couldn’t “see” that. I couldn’t see that everyone else felt much more deeply about the whole thing than I did. Even when they told me they had stayed up late upset about the situation, it didn’t come across as real. Not that I thought they were lying, it just felt…unreal. Like they didn’t mean it, were exaggerating for the emotional impact that is missing from written communication. And so I came across as an unfeeling, selfish, self centered hypocrite. I know I did, because I was told so, point blank.
Well, in a way it was true. You can’t go around telling people to clean up your act while you also salt your conversation with jokes 13 year old boys would be proud of, can you now? And you can’t dismiss other people’s declarations of their emotional state just because you find it absurd. Okay, literally you CAN do that, but you can’t do it and expect them to call it just another day.
So, that all to say, on Facebook, I was the worst possible Traci instead of the best possible Jesus. Facebook, therefore, had to go. I can’t grow into the best possible Jesus by letting myself spend all day as the worst possible Traci.
I liken it to a drunk. I was a Facebook drunk. But not the happy kind who sings karaoke and dances too much, the mean kind who starts yelling and picking fights before they throw up in your soup.
So, anyway. You can still find me on Facebook, because I have a professional account, where I post links and share writing updates. But that account can’t join groups or see walls, or respond to anyone else’s posts. So…for me (and for you!) that is a good thing. No, I couldn’t just moderate it, set a timer and get off, or anything else like that. Because I was a drunk, and one drink is too many if you are addicted.
So thank you for not begging me to come back–I need all the support I can get!