Do I need to break up with Facebook? :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Do I need to break up with Facebook?

Makena Clawson

Woman Lying With Laptop. Credit: Petr Kratochvil.

I can’t believe she hasn’t responded to my wall-post yet. It’s been like three hours, and I know she’s been on Facebook. She must be ignoring me!

Trivial? How about familiar? As silly as it seems written down, this is one of the many emotions we face when we login to that seemingly harmless site that has started to creep in to every facet of our lives.

We feel alone.

You have 300 friends, ten of them liked your status last week, and those cute new photos posted of you made everyone look. But are you happy?

Every time I get sucked in to logging on to see if he or she responded, look at new photos, maybe “stalk” an old friend who I heard looks totally different, I leave the computer dejected, vain and alone. But why? Doesn’t society tell us that keeping up with these friends is good? That these relationships will bring us happiness?

But can we call a cyber-“friendship” really even a relationship at all? Isn’t it more of a crutch we use to compare ourselves to the world and put our best face forward when we are really sitting at home in our sweats munching on Oreos?

Am I the only one that goes on Facebook and subconsciously compares myself to all of my friends, feeling deep down that I am inadequate because I don’t have as many friends posting on my wall, or don’t have as many cute pictures with friends?

This then leads to presenting society with the image that I would like them to see, instead of the flawed me.  In my life the symptoms include insisting on getting good pictures so that my Facebook friends will see that I do have a social life, and writing on friends’ walls partly just to boost my own confidence.
So how do I let go of this crutch that leads to vainly comparing myself to others, feeling like I lose every time?

For some they delete their profiles and make a clean break. Depending on how abusive the relationship is, this might be the best option; I’m definitely considering it.

But perhaps we can “just be friends.” Here are some tips to avoid an unhealthy relationship with Facebook.

1. Don’t let it be a crutch. Like any other obsessive relationship, avoid turning to Facebook when you feel unloved, alone or sad. This will only lead to more comparing and whining to yourself. I know that girl seems to have the perfect boyfriend, perfect clothes and always looks like she is having a good time – I don’t need to check her profile to be reminded of it.

2. Don’t let it motivate your actions. It is perfectly ok to have a great time with friends and not take any pictures. Maybe people online won’t know that you hung out, but does it really matter? Shouldn’t your time together be most important instead of worrying about getting a cute picture together to post the next day to please your vanity? Enjoy people and your time together for what they’re worth on their own, not how cool it will look when it’s on Facebook.

3. Look for other means of communication. Sure, you can talk to friends online to keep up with them, but what about a phone call, dropping in for a visit, or the gift of a handwritten letter? This will mean much more to the friend than a half-hearted post that you use to feel good about your friendships.

4. Resist the obsession. This may take different forms for everyone, but in every abusive friendship there needs to be some space. This may mean not getting updates on your phone, logging on only every so often, or spending only ten minutes online each time. Whatever distance you need to create, do it! It will help you detach from finding your worth in what others think of you. Plus it will free up time for you to actually live your life, instead of just worrying that it looks like you have one on Facebook!

Like any break-up, it may take time to wean yourself off of Facebook and let go of the hold it has on your pride and vanity. But some distance can’t hurt and will only free you up to be more yourself and less of the sterile, perfect image you present to the world.

Keep in mind also that if Facebook is a crutch, the only way to really walk is to learn again, not take the crutch away only to find a new one. If you place your worth as a person in relationships (like almost every other woman), and look to Facebook to track how you are doing, taking it away won’t solve all of the problems. The solution comes from finding your worth in God, and after being secure and confident in Him, taking the step out to love others.

Without being reassured of His love first and trying to find worth in our relationships, it’s no wonder we’re insecure. People are flawed and will not satisfy our need for love all of the time. But once we’re confident in Christ, we can step out and love others, even if it makes us vulnerable.

So if Facebook is holding you back from finding your worth in God, and leading you to attempt to fill yourself with friendships, perhaps a breakup is in order.

Topics: Culture , Humor , Personal Growth

Makena Clawson is a sophmore at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. She is studying English, mass communications and Spanish and hopes to start a magazine for young women after graduating.

View all articles by Makena Clawson

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