More than a year ago, I wrote a post about how I had finally been persuaded to join the social networking site Facebook. At the time, I was still new to Facebook and finding it to be a handy way to reconnect with friends and family around the world. Today, I still appreciate that aspect of the site, but I have to say that the pain of using Facebook now outweighs any pleasure I get from it.
It may seem melodramatic to use the word “pain” to describe the emotion I feel when logging on, while using, and even after signing out of Facebook. But that’s exactly what I felt a few weekends ago, when at the end of a particularly long session, I found myself in an incredibly bad mood and realized it was the time spent on Facebook that had brought on the blues. I decided to go on a Facebook “fast”; I avoided the site for a week to see if it brought any change to my daily mood. As I had imagined, the experiment proved that I was indeed happier when not under the Facebook influence.
In the course of the experiment, I identified a few reasons why I was having such a negative experience on Facebook, all having to do with my introvert tendencies. First of all, I find it difficult to come up with Status Updates (short descriptions of what you’re doing at the moment), and when I do come up with one, I am inevitably disappointed when no one responds to it. As an introvert, it takes more energy to be interactive and when it is not reciprocated, I feel let down, whereas I imagine that people who update their status more frequently (most often extroverts) don’t place such emphasis on each thing they write. And, as I complained to my husband, it often seems the most banal things get a lot of feedback, such as “X person likes pie,” to which he replied that it was a lot easier for someone to respond to that kind of note, than “X person is experiencing a dark night of the soul.” I had to admit he had a point.
Which is to say that I shouldn’t expect deep emotional connection from a site that most people use to post drunken photos of themselves. And that brings me to another aspect of what depresses me about Facebook. I can see (in great detail often) how friends and acquaintances are socializing with other people (i.e., not me), and that makes me feel even more like a wallflower than I already am. Of course, a lot of my “friends” on Facebook live a great distance from me, so there’s not a chance for me to be the one in their impromptu photo shoot, but even if I was living in the same city, there’s no guarantee it would be any different. I am not a social butterfly, and that won’t change.
While all this may sound like a self-induced pity party, I am actually relieved to be able to put a finger on what was bothering me all along. I think it’s because I had once imagined that Facebook would be a useful tool for us introverts (and I’m willing to admit that there may still be some who find it so) that my disappointment with it is more acute. Now I see what I should have seen all along; there’s a reason they call it “social” networking. Facebook is the perfect medium for extroverts to find and interact with other extroverts. I just find it tiring. I’d rather spend some face time with a good book.