I’d rather have real, meaningful conversations.
The truth is, as a white woman I’m not usually part of the minority group. Except in one instance: I am not on Facebook, with no plans to change my status.
To understand my anti-Facebook stance, there are certain things you should know about me. I am not a “high-tech” type of girl. I still have a boom box in my kitchen that I use to play CDs while I cook. I didn’t purchase my first smart phone until last year. And I text sparingly because my clumsy fingers find it awkward to correctly tap the letters I need to convey my intended message.
I don’t use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest,or other social media that may be out there that I’m not even aware of. (Although I am on Goodreads).
I hear Facebook touted as a way to remain connected with people, to regain contact with people you’ve lost touch with, and to recognize networking opportunities. That may be true. And I am sure there are many genuinely good, benevolent uses for Facebook. But from what I observe of those around me, that’s not how most people are using Facebook.
Here’s what I know: We didn’t always have Facebook and somehow our society still managed to function. Keep in mind, I am a person who doesn’t have my cell phone on me 24/7 because I remember the days before there were cell phones. And even back then, when there were emergencies, we just dealt with them differently. Remember pay phones? I remember being a young college student, commuting on six Los Angeles MTA buses a day from my home near the Miracle Mile to classes at California State University Northridge. My parents provided me with a cell phone the size of a brick. I was under strict orders not to use it unless there was a real emergency. I had a few instances when I almost used the phone, but thankfully managed not to.
I think Facebook actually detracts from meaningful conversation. By the time you meet up with a friend for lunch, if you’re on Facebook, your friend already knows about your trip to Hawaii, has read about what you ate, the whales you saw, and has seen all the photos.
Anything I want to share with others, I will do my way. For my pen pal in Japan (a woman I have been writing to for 21 years), I will write her a letter, periodically include a few photos of my family, put it in an envelope, attach a stamp, and mail it away. For one friend, it means almost-daily emails until we arrange for a monthly lunch catch-up. For another friend, it’s brief weekly text messages until we can plan a brunch meeting. And each time, the information that I share, the parts of my life that I discuss, are slightly different. Just as each relationship I have is slightly different.
And let’s get back to that “friends” label. My friends, though few in number, are actual friends. People I can reach out to in times of trouble (awaiting medical test results), share some good news (a recent publication), and whine about daily irritations (the noisy children next door that woke me in the middle of the night). And my friends have their own issues, their own stresses, their own joys, and their own irritations. They don’t need constant updates on mine.
I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on anything. I don’t have any sense of inferiority because I am not one of the 936 million people using Facebook each day (a statistic from Facebook’s website as of March 2015). Rather, I make mindful decisions on how to use my time and strive to do things that are truly meaningful to me.
I know Facebook is here to stay. And maybe I will change my mind and join the majority of people who are users. In the meanwhile, I’m happy to remain in my non-Facebook world and remind others they used to live here too.
Wendy Kennar is a freelance writer, who finds inspiration in her 7-year-old son and from her memories of her 12-year teaching career. Her writing has appeared in several publications and anthologies including: the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, L.A. Parent, MomsLA.com, and Lessons From My Parents, among others. She blogs at http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/.