Monday, May 9, 2011

Facebook - Why I'm Glad it Wasn't Around When My Kids Were Little

What an exciting week it's been in the land of Facebook!  The natural birth community has been under attack by some very bored women as of late.  I've been thinking about this topic and post for a couple of weeks now, and then with all the drama this week, I decided it was time.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that there is often a bit of controversy surrounding some of my posts.  Some, I understand why, and others, frankly, I've been baffled at the hype. (Like the "My Epidural" Post.  It was shared nearly 500 times!  Seriously?)   A couple of weeks ago I was worked up over something on Facebook -- I don't even remember what now -- and things that snowballed afterwards.  It's all I talked about all week long.  My house fell apart, as I spent literally hours in front of my computer screen or constantly checking my itouch for new "developments."  My husband was ready to freak out, and he's not a freak-out kind of guy!  I just felt consumed with... with... with the topic, with Facebook, my blog. 

It's hard to remember life before Facebook.  In case you haven't realized, I have a highly addictive personality.  I typically don't do things in moderation.  Take my love of Tim McGraw.  This summer I'll be seeing him for the 13th and 14th times.  I won't tell you how much money has been spent on concert tickets and airline tickets traveling to see Tim over the years! (This year I'm traveling to OK and Indianapolis to see him!)   I can't seem to drink just one can of Diet Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew.  Again, I'll spare you the details.

There have been periods where I have found my life consumed with what my next Facebook status will read.  Do you do that, too?!  Please say yes.  Something funny will happen and I'll think, "I've gotta put this on Facebook."  Or a picture taken.  It really is the weirdest thing.

David took me to Cancun for my 40th birthday in January, and while there, I didn't touch my cell phone and had no internet.  It was bliss!  I read a book -- which I never do unless it's related to childbirth -- and if it weren't for the ending, would have really enjoyed it!  David and I talked about things unrelated to what was happening on the internet and were in the here-and-how.  What a concept.

I guess I've just been thinking lately about how grateful I am that Facebook and blogging were not around when my kids were little.  All my kids are in school now, so Facebook is mostly a time-suck for me.  My kids aren't terribly effected by my time on Facebook.  I constantly wonder how these moms do it that have little kids at home.  Many of them are commenting everywhere all the time.  When I spend a lot of time Facebooking or blogging, my house really does fall apart.  The dishes pile up, dinner doesn't get made, and the laundry doesn't get hung.  I just can't live like that and a mess makes me crazy.

And yet, it's totally addictive.  It's hard to walk away.  I have a couple of friends that took themselves off Facebook for lengthy periods of time, and I must say, I admire their commitment to their families, and their sanity!  Frankly, I don't want to turn off Facebook and blogging.  I enjoy it.  I finally had to limit the blog posts to just one a week, and that has been helpful.  (I usually write it on Saturday or Sunday night after the kids have gone to bed.)  I hope this doesn't sound like a guilt post.  But it has been on my mind lately. I think it should be addressed and talked about.  Are we addicted to Facebook, email, blogs, and texting?  Does it cause us to miss out on the here-and-now?

I am never ever going to win a mom-of-the-year award -- ever -- but we did have fun when the kids were little.  I didn't have a cell phone until the older 3 were all in school.  I wasn't texting or talking to anyone other than them when we left the house.  We didn't have a DVD player in the car - still don't - so the car tends to be where we have always done the most talking.  Our best conversations, and often the most important ones, have taken place while we are driving. 

We did lots of "field trips" and play dates and play groups.  When we were there, we were really there, in the moment.  No one was texting back then and Facebook certainly wasn't around.  In fact, no one had internet on their phone back then.  I was always scared to get a cell phone - I was 34 before I finally got one - because I am fully aware of my addictive personality.  I knew I would like to have one.  In fact, I've made plans to get an iphone next month, and I am scared to death.

I learned to can, or bottle, all sorts of foods when my kids were little.  Salsa, chicken, beans, beef.  That has been an invaluable skill for me and saved my family a lot of money over the years.  (I just canned 75 pounds of chicken during all the snow and ice we had in February.  Again with the moderation!)  I learned to garden (That was in NM "soil," not TX clay!) and the kids helped.

I remember our bedtime routines were lengthy back then.  Maybe it's because there were so many I had to help, but it seems that it went on for about two hours.  Bath, dinner, and LOTS of books.  Again, I probably have that memory because none of the kids were reading yet.  Once the bigger ones could read to the younger ones, I think I enlisted their help!  I regret that now.  I just wonder how many of these memories would have been created if I had so many distractions in my life, pulling me away from my kids.

Recently, we tried enforcing a no-media rule at our house after 7:00 p.m., but it's nearly impossible, unless we actually turn the phones off!  People are constantly texting or calling and it's irresistible to check them.  My husband's phone lets him know every time he gets an email or someone posts to his Wall.  It is constantly buzzing.

A while back, I mentioned on my Facebook page,  my concern over being the first generation of parents having to deal with Facebook.  (Do you appreciate the irony of me linking you to my Banned From Baby Showers Facebook page?)  If we have such a hard time putting it down, it's worse for a teenager!  I do not think it's been a good thing in our children's lives. 

As for the cell phones, I'm not sure why everyone thinks their kid needs one.  We did get our son a cell phone when he started high school, but in a 3-month period he went from 5,000 texts to 10,000 texts to 15,000 texts.  Talk about addicted!  I took the phone away, paid $145 to stop his service, and he will never have a phone on my watch again.  I have no regrets whatsoever.

Back to some of the Facebook happenings this week, I truly am baffled by the amount of time people spend to stalk other Facebook pages.  If you don't like a page, or disagree with someone, don't read it!  I know from experience that when I get worked up over something I don't agree with, it spills over into every aspect of my life.  It is not healthy.  I feel the same way about my stuff.  If I offend you, don't read it!  Or is it like a train wreck and you just can't look away?  While I enjoy your comments and questions, I just can't spend that much time there.  My BFBS Facebook page is a place where current, former, and future students can get information.  I'd like to spend more time there, but I have to limit myself because my regular life demands it. 

This became a lengthy post.  Think of all the things you could have gotten done instead of reading this!  I am sincerely glad for all the time you spend reading my weekly posts.  I believe we've done some good things here and made a difference. 

Facebook, blogging, and texting are not going to go away.  We are always connected -- to everyone, all the time.  I believe it has caused us to be less connected to the people who really matter - our families, our children. Turn off the computer and go spend some time with your kiddos!  I'm going to go can 2 dozens pints of pinto beans before my kids come home from school.


Regina said...

I love this post! This is exactly why I am the last person standing who doesn't have a facebook. And I don't want one. When I first started blogging (which is just a "this is what we did today" blog) I was obsessed with checking the comments, other people's blogs, their friends, their friends, etc.

That is one of the reasons I made mine private. So I could really write it for my family, not worry about who was reading it (nobody really checks private blogs), and get on with it! I have a relatively short list of blogs which I enjoy reading that I check when they update, yours being one.

And as far as people not coming to your blog if they don't like it....ya right!! I didn't like it at first and kept coming back, and now look what you've done to me!! :)

Kristi said...

My fun with facebook really turned into an obsession when I got my iphone back in September. It was so easy to check status updates and comments in that little handheld device! I did not have to lug out my laptop, open in up, log in to facebook to check anything. I do NOT have an addictive personality and I am sooooo addicted to facebook. I like to blog but I am not good at keeping up with it. But facebook....I loved to chat during my frequent nursing sessions (had my baby last June) because I would get bored and lonely. I liked it b/c when taking care of a baby, I had to find something fun I could do in short spurts. Facebook is perfect for that. I entered time wasting giveaways. I frequented birth related pages b/c I love them. Then I started noticing the drama. And the meanness. And I started feeling like a bad mother because I didn't do this or that. Or I DID do this or that. And the comments weren't even directed at me.

And I noticed that I needed to find more to do in real life. I used to LOVE to read. I can't get through a chapter of a book without checking facebook on my phone. My husband gets aggravated with me because I'll check my phone in the middle of a conversation without realizing it. And HE is really into electronics, but this is so new to me and I am WAY more into my iphone than he is into his. He has no idea how I can do so much on it, and he's the electronics expert in our family.

And I have found that I have no idea how to entertain myself anymore without the iphone and facebook. I don't LIKE the same things I used to. I get bored if I am not doing something constantly. Never used to be that way.

I really really like facebook and how I can keep in touch with my family better, but I had to just quit going to those parenting/birth pages that I loved so much b/c they made me feel like crap. And I've had to schedule more real life things to do. Finally finishing my doula training has helped with that!

Good luck to you that your iphone will not consume you the way it did me. :o) P.S. Sorry so long.

Krista Eger said...

I just have to agree with the commenter above me in that I don't read the parenting/birth pages as much anymore because I was becoming guilty about stupid things that I did or didn't do. It's ridiculous how crazy moms get about parenting exactly the way they do. I only parent the way that I parent and I don't try to get anyone else to do it my way. And even though I had a home birth, I'm sure someone somewhere would tell me I did something wrong with that too. Not just Dr. Amy followers. Anyway I also have an iphone. The thing that I find is that because it's so easy to take a picture and upload it to facebook that I do it all the time. I tell people it's so that the family back East can keep up with the kids constantly growing, which is partially true. My father in law lives in New Jersey. Anyway yeah it's addictive and I wish I could figure out how to stop doing it haha

Laura: The Sushi Snob said...

Facebook: it's like crack. And like crack, it can make you feel really bad. Not that I know, of course.

I notice that if I make an effort not to check facebook and other internet stuff all the time, I'm a much happier person. And I do great things! Like pursue actual hobbies, read a good book, clean my house, etc.

I'm really glad that I'm not the only one.

Maggie said...

Too funny...I too think of facebook statuses throughout the day. How sad is that! lol

Crystal said...

I just have to say: I don't have a cell phone. Think about that! Ha.
but yes, I am using this time to avoid my children : )

Anonymous said...

Just found you and was reading this post. Wanted to alleviate a little if your guilt. I read it in my phone, first while I snuggled the 4 year old down for nap and now while I nurse the baby down for her nap. So time well spent in two ways. Now I'm off to check out that well shared epidural post.