Remember When Life Wasn’t Consumed by Facebook?

Have you ever been working really hard on something, and have someone who sees you working say to you at the peak of your frenzy, “You know, no one ever said on their death-bed that they wished they spent more time at work”?  That may be true, but will anyone ever say on their death-bed, “I wish I had spent more time on Facebook”?

I have a ritual before I sign on to the Big FB.  I say to myself, “Now, we’re just going in for three things:  Wish happy birthday to absolutely anyone whose birthday prompt arises, re-poke any pokers, and RSVP to your brother-in-law’s ‘Second Annual Weekend at the Chicken Farm,’ and that is it.  Got it?  All right, we’re going in…”

But the moment I sign in my plan goes out the Microsoft Windows.  I am grabbed, wrapped up in Facebook’s tentacles, entranced by the songs of its sirens.  There’s no way to stop it.  One moment I’m checking out the birthday quadrant, and the next moment I’m looking at ultrasounds of someone’s deviated septum.  I retrace my steps, and I see how I went astray:

“All right, I signed in, and saw that it was so-and-so’s birthday, but there were those pictures of such-and-such’s new baby, and so I had to look at those pictures, and right underneath that update was an update from so-and-so about how he scored tickets to see Hall & Oates, and then, I saw that 43 of my other friends are fans of Hall & Oates, and one of their profiles I didn’t recognize, so I clicked on it and found that it was a complete stranger, but after looking at her other profile pictures I discovered that she is someone who I went to high school with, but has remarried, and so I check on her husband’s page, even though I don’t know him, and what do you know he likes a certain band, which is cool, even though I’ve never heard of that band.  So I clicked on the link of some dude who commented on a photo of the husband of that girl I went to high school with….”

The recursion is maddening.  I’m not sure if recursion is the correct word to use, but the point is I can’t retrace my steps.  I get disgusted with myself and sign off Facebook in a huff.  And then two minutes later I realized that I forgot to do on Facebook what I had initially meant to do.  So I sign back on, and the cycle of wasted time and self-disgust begins anew.

I’ve heard reports that the average Facebook user spends six hours a day on Facebook.  If you could put time in a bottle, how many bottles would that be, worldwide?  Does it make a difference if you use plastic bottles?  It certainly does if you’re an environmentalist.  But most non-environmentalists only care that the bottle not contain any BPA, whatever that is.

Six hours a day for every person on Facebook.  This cannot be as disheartening as it sounds.  Perhaps many Facebook users live in places where there is not that much to do, and going on Facebook actually increases the productivity of their regional economy.  But for most people, I imagine, Facebook is taking time that could be put to far more productive use, like helping in the community, spending time with family, or writing a blog.

Maybe companies will figure out a way to have employees do their work on Facebook.  I’ve alluded before to the possibility of suing people on Facebook.  Perhaps meetings and projects could be done with fan pages.  Products could be ordered and memos sent.  Even those little office birthday parties…well, we know Facebook has got the birthday thing down.

But what would those people who work on Facebook do to waste time?  They could not very well waste time on Facebook, because Facebook would be their job.  By definition, you can’t waste time at work by working.  The Facebook  workers would have to sign off, and turn off the monitor or shut the laptop, and pick up a stack of paper, and start filing.

And at 5 o’clock, the Facebook workers would put on their coats and hats, and go to a cafe, where they would meet real people, and talk face to face.  They would sip their coffee and nod, and smile, and make all of the tones and gestures that give spoken language its vitality.  And after they drain their cups, and catch-up on each others’ lives, these Facebook workers would sit back and reminisce about the days when people socialized over Facebook.

Do you stick to the grocery list when shopping at Facebook?  Or do you find yourself wandering the aisles as time ceases to exist?

28 thoughts on “Remember When Life Wasn’t Consumed by Facebook?

  1. It is ironic that you use a *grocery list* metaphor when describing Facebook. Think about it this way….people who go to grocery stores without a list tend to spend a lot more than those who did. Same goes with Facebook…I stick to the list, if I am on it at all. Excellent Post. 🙂

    1. Thank you. Yes, planning things out and having a list is the most efficient way to spend time and money. I think someone should write Mr. Zuckerberg about creating a list feature that would go on the screen with boxes to check off. Glad you stopped by.

  2. My mistake was letting bloggers in. They are much more interesting than my family and most of my friends. Whatever you do, don’t start making “friends” with bloggers. But now that I know you are on FB, it would be fun to see MarKap pix.

    So… 😉

  3. I remember when I first signed up for FB… I realized what a time-drain it was for me. I would claim to need a break from my “Cinderella chores”, sit down, sign in and WHOOOOOSH; my time would be gone!

    FB reminds me of the soap operas that use to be so popular, however, the “stars” are your everyday peeps. Log into FB/ turn on your favorite suds show, be pulled in to real drama/ lose yourself in made up fantasy, waste hours upon hours/ waste hours upon hours; the end result is pretty much the same.

    If I can stick to “the check list”, I’m okay, but if I wander…. well you know; time is gone!!!

    Fabulous post, by the way!!!!

    1. Thank you! Your soap opera analogy is perfect. Each character gets into the same kind of issues, and there is no end, and no beginning. Just goes on and on and on…Thanks for stopping by.

  4. i too have a love/hate relationship with my FB page… and i keep a “grocery store” type to-do list in Evernote… however, i am only about 50/50 on making the cut on whether i actually stick with it once i arrive. so yep, it helps and i’m grateful for that. 6 hours? that’s a crazy long time to spend on there every day!! Great post!!

  5. I just heard a great talk this weekend about how social media affects us. You are dead on about the way FB sucks us in. I do the same thing and am just today really trying to be conscious of the process since I really don’t have time to waste and can save a bunch by paying attention to what you say here.

    1. With the schedule you seem to balance, I think you’re probably light-years ahead of me in the time management department.
      Staying focused is definitely key, and you definitely have got that.

  6. The only time I spend more than, maybe 10 minutes on FB is when I’m chatting with someone, which doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes I’ll have it running in another window if I’m writing or working on school stuff, just to be able to easily click over to see if there’s anything interesting, but I just haven’t found myself sucking into the abyss. Maybe I need more interesting friends 😉

    1. Do your friends post pictures of weddings and parties? Do they share links to articles that support their political views? Do they “check-in” at restaurants on the other side of the world? If so, then your friends are about as interesting as it gets on FB. I’m inspired by your self-discipline.

  7. I’m with Limr – I don’t really get sucked in too much. The best thing I found for my relationship with facebook is the Android home screen widget that shows the most recent status update, which I can scroll through to past entries. That way I don’t get sucked into the actual site but I can still see what my friends think is important enough to post to their status.

    (Spooky coincidence, my phone just pinged to let me know someone commented on my last fb post, so I’m off to the vortex now…)

  8. I used to make fun of people who where on MyFace & SpaceBook.
    Yep, I always pronounced them wrong on purpose, just to show my contempt. After years of avoiding the inevitable, I finally signed up for FB.
    The only real use (as a tool) is to inform relatives and close friends when someone is sick, and give updates on such important things.

    EVERYTHING else on FB is superfluous.

    1. I have a friend who is still holding out. I don’t know how he does it. I made fun of FB for years, too, thinking it was just for kids. But I came around eventually. We all do. Resistance is futile.

  9. This is a great post! “And then two minutes later I realized that I forgot to do on Facebook what I had initially meant to do. So I sign back on, and the cycle of wasted time and self-disgust begins anew.” How sad but true…LOL.

  10. I love how you describe the “just one more thing” aspect of FB. I sometimes get caught in that, but more often, I get sucked into Twitter. I have to put myself on a Twitter diet of 15 min at a time or I’ll be on there chatting with folks for hours. Thanks for a great post, Mark.

  11. My husband is the last person not on FB. He does it on purpose.

    And I haven’t been on it much since I discovered a bajillion blogs that are way more fun to read than someone’s status update about her horoscope or his disdain for the Yankees.

  12. Is your blog connected thru facebook thus encouraging the Facebook madness cycle? Also one way to help re-trace steps through FB is by the notifications after your first round through. 😛

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by connected. I have a widget at the bottom of each post that allows anyone to “like” the post and thereby share the link on Facebook. And I post the link to each new post on my Facebook fan page. I know that may be adding to the cycle, but I don’t know how else to publicize my blog other than going door to door.

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