Being anti-social-network has mixed results

I told a friend why I decided on a new personal effort called Facebook-Free Friday.

"It feels like the site is 90 percent bumper stickers, horizontal praying (praying at people and not to God) and people still trying to revisit the election," I said. I got a nod and, "Yeah, pretty much."

Then on Thursday, an old high school acquaintance used the poke feature on me. I responded in kind. After this process repeated a few times, I sent a message inquiring if there was a reason for the initial poke. She blew up, said Facebook suggested it and she couldn't believe I would complain about such a thing. Five minutes later, I saw she had deleted me as a friend.

For those reasons, and many others, I decided for the foreseeable future to not post or look at the site for one day a week. Let's just reduce the opportunity for these incidents, and find out what happens.

This isn't a shot at Facebook, which doesn't control what my friends post or like. And I doubt I'd completely give it up, because I like a lot of the benefits of social networking:

  • I get to see an old college friend experience life in a foreign country, and hear her voice whenever she posts a video detailing her previous few weeks living abroad. We're not particularly close, but there's a certain reassurance in knowing she's doing well.
  • I found out a high school friend had a miscarriage, and another friend was organizing an online fund to help cover unexpected funeral costs. I figured the least I could do was skip eating out and send $20 to the cause. She insisted on a mailing address to thank me, and now I'm on her holiday card list. The family isn't over the tragedy, but they're carrying on, and I got the chance to help in a small way.

And this is not to say I only find problems with Facebook:

  • Twitter has people who simply write 20 140-character tweets in a row instead of treating us like literate adults and posting the paragraph on a webpage, or there are #irritatinghashtags #nobodywouldeversearchfor because people want their fast food lunch to seem more important.
  • LinkedIn lets you endorse acquaintances for job skills they have, but there's no verification required after you click the mouse button. A guy I hadn't talked to in a year endorsed me for knowledge in a computer program I've never used. It's a little odd to go to a place where people who barely know you endorse you for things they've never seen you do, with the expectation you endorse them for things you've never seen them do.

So the last two Fridays, I've tried, and mostly succeeded at not checking the site. I say, "mostly," because my mouse pointer just seemed to move to the bookmark and click it without any thought process involved.

I'd quickly close the window, and tell myself it would still be there Saturday.

It was, and I missed nothing of importance. The experience has yet to change me, except to possibly convince me to make it an all-weekend thing.

The only challenge is to find a different way to use that free time. Maybe I'll go shopping for a bumper sticker to put on my actual car, or I'll poke somebody … with a phone call or postcard or a surprise coffee delivery. I just hope they won't opt for a Kevin-Free Friday.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email:

kwilson@cnjonline.com

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