Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cleaning Out My Facebook Closet

Facebook seems to have invaded every part of our lives.  Facebook is a noun and a verb (I'll facebook you.) that didn't exist until the last decade.  Facebook for me started out innocently enough.  My sister had a doctor friend who was starting a non profit to provide medical care and supplies for Sierra Leone.  I joined Facebook as a way to keep up with his events somewhere around 2008.  It has been a meteoric slide ever since.

Facebook is just this really bizarre beast to me.  I am an introvert by nature.  When you see me out and about in my old life of selling and in my new life of promoting a cycling team, that is me with the extrovert switch in the on position.  I would much rather be hanging out with a few friends, or even alone with a good book, or on a great ride solo.  To do what I do in the public eye is exhausting....for me.  And so much of what I do these days centers around the social media world, an interesting dichotomy for a somewhat un social (not antisocial) person.

Facebook is part of my job promoting Team Rwanda.  It has been instrumental in helping us raise money for certain crucial items such as Rocky's glass eye and the magnitude of dental work the riders needed.  It has helped put Team Rwanda on the map and for that I am thankful and will continue to grow that aspect of our social media.  Unfortunately, the constant changes and "improvements" simply add to my work load and in some ways they are not improvements.  I am a change embracer but sometimes, less is more.

Facebook for me personally though has become this oddity of life, of friendships and acquaintances and people who I have no idea how we became "friends".  I have been thinking about this blog a lot over the past few days.  The things I see amongst my FB "friends" are disturbing to me in a variety of ways.  

First is the simple notion of friendship.  There is one person who "friended" me years ago who was never nice to me in high school and frankly is still a self absorbed popularity hound.  Why is she part of my FB world?  Why did I accept?  Did I want to be in the "in" group for once in my life?  Through Facebook?  I believe it was as much my slide back to the hurt I experienced in high school as it was her desire to stay on top of the popularity heap.  I bought into just like a sixteen year old being accepted at the cool kids table.  My error in judgment, my temporary moment of insecurity.

Second is the negativity and hate and miscommunication that occurs in status updates.  Frankly, I am thankful I do not live in the US at this moment with as much hate from left and right that I see happening throughout Facebook.  I'm sure it has infiltrated into daily life as well.  Politicians have won the game as I see it.  It is simply a game everyone has bought into and the price exacted is hatred.  I cringe at the things I see "friends" post.

Third, I'm out there, Jerry!  I have had several friends visit Rwanda who have remarked that they don't see me being able to live in America.  It's "too quiet, too normal, too boring" and a variety of other adjectives.  Perhaps they are correct.  I do find myself becoming more and more separated from life in America.  I cannot relate to the FB "friend" posting pictures of her dresser that is overflowing with so many clothes she doesn't know what to do with them.  I see that and I think about my rider Rocky and his wife Monique and two young children who had every bit of clothing stolen by a jealous neighbor.  Not like they had much to begin with.  That one dresser drawer could have clothed an entire Rwandan family.  I cannot relate.  I cannot deal with that.  I understand it is not her fault, it is her life.  It's just so far removed from my life, the world I travel in, I cannot begin to feel for her dresser space issues.  Again, I know this is my issue, not hers.  I do not pass judgment, but I also cannot have that in my Facebook "face".  

I believe friends come and go for a reason or a season and some are never really friends.  I don't say that in a negative tone, it's simply a matter of fact.  Those people are acquaintances.  Friends have commonalities, similar ethics and belief systems.  When did "defriending" become a verb?   Can't we all just agree it was nice to meet and move on or take the time to actually initiate and grow a friendship? 

So, just like I did years ago when I moved to Africa, I'm cleaning out my closet.  My personal set of FB "friend" rules are simple.  If I wouldn't walk across a crowded room to say hello, if I wouldn't go have a drink with you are we really "friends"?  Do not take it personal.  Before you become angry ask yourself the same question about me.  I'm okay if you don't want to have a drink with me.  You're honest, I'm not part of your world and that's fine by me.

Currently I have 740 "friends".  I culled this list about two years ago and I'm still amazed at the 740 number.  I truly do not know 740 people.  Where did these people come from?  Maybe Zuckerberg should create Acquaintencebook.

My life here is not easy.  I need people to reach down and give me a hand up once in a while.  I need people to help inspire, encourage and make me laugh.  I admit at times I need help.  I need love in my world.  I need compassion, empathy and I need to be surrounded by people who see the world outside their world.  That's just me.  I need friends not Facebook.

My ex husband said his life is so much better now that he has left Facebook.  I still need that connection as my life is isolated from my friends around the world and it is part of my work with the team.  His decision is valid, however.  I think it's time I get back to the real friends who have been along with me on this journey.  Somehow we all got lost along the Facebook way.


  1. I only use Facebook to keep track of YOU, dear daughter. For that, I am thankful. Love ya, Mom

  2. You had better freaking keep me. You're the one who got me on FB. And yes, I would cross a room to say hello!! Assuming that we're ever on the same continent..... miss you!