1- It was painful at first. The internet in all of its forms has been a gift to me. When I have felt so completely alone, I have been able to make community via the internet. It has really gotten me through some tough times.
2- That said, it has always been the cause of communication issues. I fear I use FB or other forums to avoid real human contact. FB can feed my social anxiety. FB can also lend to communication issues.
3- After some time (maybe 3 or 4 days), I stopped obsessing. I didn't need to post or check in constantly. By day 8, I almost didn't notice. I got ready far faster in the mornings and went to bed much quicker too.
4- So, what did I miss? Not surprisingly, I missed hearing what was up with my friends. I wanted to know what they were doing and how they were. I am sure I missed b-days, and other important announcements. That was hard. I wish people had've been able to contact me about these things, but I know that would be impossible. I have a few friends not on FB, and I find I just don't keep up with them. FB is the land of the tiny, everyday.... I love the tiny everyday stuff. That's what makes me feel close with others. So, not getting that was the hardest part.
5- What was surprising? It made me think about how I engage in my relationships with others. I realized that FB changes the way I engage in starting, and more, ending friendships. In the pre-FB days, I just ended a friendship if it wasn't working for me. I would stop communication without a big fucking deal. Or, if it was a closer friendship, I might have a discussion. Ending friendships is often hard for me. I value my connections with others. As people have died, I find I am more and more hesitant to end friendships. I have lost so many people to disease, drugs, and depression... I don't want to lose more, unless it's truly the right thing for me...
But, FB has blurred those boundaries. It's so much more of a big deal to end a friendship-- no matter how small. Perhaps that's a bit self-absorbed. Who am I to say that these people even notice my disappearance? I just feel those ended friendships so much more. To "unfriend" someone seems like a bigger deal that just stopping communication.
6- The other thing I realized is that before FB, I might not notice certain aspects of someone's personality.... now those aspects are magnified. When someone says something sexist or racist or homophobic or classist, I see it. On one hand, that's a good thing. I don't want to be friends with people like that. On the other hand, I feel really torn about the fact that there are people I think I genuinely like whose FB personalities totally suck.... I don't like debating, so when someone posts something effed up, I don't really want to confront them about it. That said, I think it's a good opportunity for discussion. But, I am so bad at articulating myself and others often jump to conclusions (so do I...). Conflict happens.
These conflicts seem important to me. I don't believe that it's *just* FB or that conflict on FB is "drama." In fact, I think that kind of statement completely disregards the impact of social media on our methods of communication. I think that statements like that are dismissive. Yet, I still struggle with that kind of thought myself. I wonder if it's my standpoint-- I am on the cusp between the generation that hardly uses FB and the generation that uses it for everything. And that is a hard place to be.... I don't always know how my friends feel about it. Was that discussion just FB drama to them or something more important? When is the appropriate time to approach a friend to discuss a conflict that started on FB? I truly struggle with the answers to these questions.
I guess, in the end, I came up with no answers. There are people I am considering deleting.... Some are acquaintances I don't really want to see anymore. Others are people I consider good friends, and in order to preserve the friendship, I think that it shouldn't be on FB.... It's those relationships with which I really struggle. I know I am more analytical about these things than many, but I also know that this analyzing is what will help me to be more balanced about my connections now and into the future. :)