As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I took a sabbatical from Facebook (“fb”) because I felt like it was becoming a time suck. Too much time spent on social networks, not enough time spent on other things that are important to me. I rejoined the world of fb earlier this week, but haven’t really been on there much. Why? Because my sabbatical taught me a few things.
First, you have to live your life, not tweet or fb about it. I joined fb to reconnect with friends and family who are scattered literally throughout the world. It helps me stay in touch with them without feeling like I’ve missed a beat. Through fb, I’ve become closer with some of my cousins, who I used to only see every other year at family reunions. I’ve reconnected with childhood friends, and have even met new family members. It’s become a platform for my husband’s book and for this blog. it is a great way to connect. What it is not, though, is a way to live life. How can you kick it with your friends and really enjoy the time if you’re constantly on your phone tweeting, updating fb statuses and commenting or re-tweeting? And no, I’m not pointing fingers at you (but if the shoe fits, wear it). I’ve been guilty of the same thing. Which is why I’m writing about it.
Second, who cares what time you went to bed or woke up? I mean, really? Does EVERYTHING need to be tweeted? Do you realize that social networks have become a recruiting tool for companies? So do you really want everyone to know that the Thai food you ate last night didn’t agree with you? Or that, in a moment of frustration, you said some rude things about your boss or your job?
Finally, who you are in social networks has quickly become the definition of who you are as a person. And we all know people who are one way online and are nothing like that in real life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen tweets of, “People need to remember that some of your followers know you in real life.” That person that brags on how much “swagger” they have (can we retire that term, by the way), really has none. People that have things don’t brag about them. I’m just saying. Your FB and Twitter profiles are your brand. So what does your brand say about you? If you were to read your status updates as someone who didn’t know you well, what conclusions would you draw about yourself? Sure, we shouldn’t care about what others think of us. But there’s one flaw in that: we live in a world where first impressions are often lasting. And in this digital age, the first impression can often come online.
I was out of the country last week in Ireland. It made it difficult to update people, and frankly, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was out of the country, they had no reason to know where I was or what I was doing. Those who needed to know, knew. When I got back, I hung out in DC at the Nation’s Classic game between Howard and Morehouse. It was like a mini-homecoming for me. Yes, I tweeted, but largely because it helped me connect with folks that I went to college with who were at the game. If you look at Saturday’s timeline, it’s filled with random questions like: “Where are you?” “Where’d you park?” “What time are we meeting up?” But I lived, I laughed, I had fun. I even managed to take a few pictures.
Social networking is cool and fun. It helps bridge gaps and reconnect people. But don’t be fooled. It can’t be a substitute for life. So please, live your life, don’t just tweet (or fb) about it.