Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The facebook cleanse

It seems there’s a new trendy “cleanse.”  The facebook cleanse.  Yeah, no, don’t worry.  I will SO not be doing that.

It’s happening more and more.  A facebook friend will announce that they won’t be on facebook for a week, a month, indefinitely, whatever.  So if you want them to know something, you have to e-mail or call them.  Even my 13-year-old niece deactivated her account for a short time because she felt she was spending too much time on facebook.  I was super-impressed with her, because deactivating facebook at 13 (a) is a big effing deal, and (b) takes a level of self-understanding and discipline that most 13-year-olds don’t have and I have possibly yet to achieve.  Go her.

Here’s what happens when I see someone going on the facebook cleanse.  First, I feel a twinge of discomfort.  “You should really do that,” says my discomfort.  “You spend too much time on facebook.  Think how clean your house could be if you didn’t check facebook and read blogs.”  “Not that clean, bitch,” I answer the voice of my anthropomorphized discomfort.  “I mostly check facebook while I am doing something else.  Waiting somewhere, taking a break from consignment sale pricing and tagging, waking up slowly in bed so I don’t get the weird shaky feeling I get when I get out of bed too quickly, watching The Voice.  So shut up.  I don’t want to do a facebook cleanse.”

If I didn’t check facebook, play Scrabble with my friend, and play Drop7 on my phone, how would I know who the good contestants on The Voice were?  I know they’re good when they make me put down my phone.

I know what you’re thinking, why don’t I just turn off the TV?  That, my hypothetical friend, is an excellent idea.  I would totally do a TV cleanse.  I mean, I would still Tivo all of the shows and binge on them like a junkie after the cleanse was over (which perhaps defeats the purpose), but I could easily go a week or longer without TV.  Especially now that fall is putting a chill in the evening air, and having a bourbon outside at the fire is an option again.  I’d sit at a fire with a lovely glass of whisky rather than watch TV any day.  But TV is one of the ways I spend time with my husband.  He and I tend to go our separate ways unless we’re watching TV together.  We even bought a sectional to replace the couch and chair we used to watch TV on, so that we can snuggle while we watch.  That is the function TV serves in my life, snuggle time with the man.  Also, it allows me to judge people.  I love armchair judging of dance and singing competition shows.  I like to think it keeps me from being judgey with other people in my life.  But still, I could snuggle with my man out at the fire, and find some other outlet for my “critical evaluative” skills.

But how would I replace facebook?

The real answer to that twinge of discomfort I feel when I think about a facebook cleanse is that facebook is serving some important functions for me.  First, my facebook filter takes situations that suck and makes them funny.  I try really hard not to complain on facebook, unless it’s funny.  So when bad stuff happens, I immediately look for the funny.  Without facebook, those sucky things would just suck.  Like the time, back when my kids were potty training and they had a small potty in their bedroom so they wouldn’t have to come out if they had to pee in the night.  And someone dropped a deuce in it.  And then they used the turds as meteors and threw them at their stuffed animals, because some episode of some show (Wonder Pets, maybe?) had a meteor that looked like a turd hurtling through space towards an animal in trouble.  Walking in on that particular scene… well, it just wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t been writing the facebook update in my head while I was reacting.  I might have wondered what else in the room my kids had touched after touching their own excrement, rather than coming up with funny phrases about “poo-poo meteors.”

Second, and probably more important, facebook is my main social outlet.  I see friends and family in person, but not enough.  I have extremely high social needs.  I need to talk to people, connect.  I need to be in the world.  I have a husband with pretty low social needs.  He likes to stay home, and when I make too many plans for us, he gets burned out quickly.  If I make plans for just me, he gets burned out on being home alone with the kids.  Once in a blue moon, he will go out with a friend without me, but it’s rare, so getting my social needs met in person generally leads to a child care imbalance.  Also, in-person social time tends to cost money for things like restaurants and drinks out, money we just don't have right now.

On facebook, I can connect with people I care about.  I can hear about my sister’s rough day, or what my mom had for dinner (something I truly don’t care about for most people, but my mom is a stunning cook, so I love her food posts, and it’s also amusing to me how she talks about food as if eating is sex).  I get to see photos of my brother’s kids, even though they live a prohibitively expensive plane flight away.  I get to argue politics, or religion, or philosophy if I’m in the mood for that sort of thing.  I can solicit or give advice or sympathy or validation.  I feel connected with my Australian friends despite a challenging time difference.  I don’t collect friends.  I only accept friend requests from people I actually know (with one or two very special exceptions).  In addition to limiting my friends list to people I know, I also hide more than half of them.  Many high school acquaintances are hidden.  If someone posts too many political opinions that piss me off, or posts too much about exercising, boom, hidden.  I manage my facebook flow so that it feels like a big room with all of the people I love, talking about stuff I want to hear about.  Like a party.  Except I don’t have to wear makeup or a bra.  How awesome is that?  Seriously!  And if the kids get out of bed, I can deal with them and then go back to the party.  No babysitting costs!  And did I mention, no bra!

Now, I’m not saying I’ll never pick up the phone.  But honestly, I hate the phone.  There are two or three friends with whom I communicate by phone, because it’s their strong preference and I love them enough to go with their preference over my own.  And an even smaller number of people with whom I actually prefer to communicate by phone, because our conversational style and banter is an important facet of the relationship.  But basically, no.  I generally hate it when my phone rings, because I was doing something at that moment.  Cleaning the house, eating dinner, reading a book, playing with my kids, writing a blog post, sneaking a nap.  I was going about my day and suddenly, blammo, I am expected to drop what I was doing and talk.  It’s not my style to ignore the phone—what if it’s important?  What if someone needs me?  Besides, people get pissed when they know you screen.  But because I don’t like it when my phone rings, I can almost never bring myself to call someone else, because nothing I could possibly have to say could be more important than whatever they are doing at that moment.  Unless, you know, I have important shit to say.  But let’s be honest, that’s rare.  Quick logistic questions, or a problem I’m having that I need to work through with a friend, yes.  Blah blah catch-up chit-chat, no. 

Blah blah catch-up chit-chat is what facebook is for.  From the comfort of home, at my convenience, I can look at a friend’s baby pictures, laugh at the snarky dating humor of a single friend I haven’t seen in a while, ogle dance friends’ new costumes, or have a haiku-writing marathon with other bad haiku enthusiasts. Best.  Party.  Ever.  And.  No.  Bra.

I just don’t see enough of a down side to justify going on a facebook cleanse.  Also, if I were going to go on any cleanse (and I’m almost certainly not), my well-being would probably be better served by cutting wine, bread, sweets, bacon, or a bunch of other crap that is way worse for me than facebook. 

But I’m not cutting any of that stuff, because it is all awesome.  And so is facebook.  The end.


  1. You had me at poo-poo meteors. LMAO!

    1. Hahaha! The sad thing about the poo-poo meteors is that they were playing so nicely together, and it was only when I opened the door that I realized they were playing so nicely with their own crap.