The Facebook-free life

September 12, 2013 | 155 comments

Lately I’ve had a flood of emails from friends and acquaintances who are thinking of getting off of Facebook, and want to hear my perspective as someone who has never had an account. Joe and I set up a page for Conversion Diary through his account for the convenience of readers who prefer to follow blogs that way, and I read the comments there as often as possible, but I’ve only logged into Facebook a handful of times in my life.

Anyway, per my semi-annual tradition, I’ve been agonizing about whether I should finally get an account. As my friends talk about why they don’t want to have a face page (as Yaya calls it), I’ve been thinking about why I might want to have one. But it’s a decision I want to make carefully, since getting a Facebook account is like jumping into quicksand: it’s not easy to get out once you’re in, and if you start thrashing around you’ll only sink deeper.

For those of you who have a similar dilemma, here are some thoughts off the top of my head about the advantages and disadvantages of my non-Facebook alternative lifestyle:

1. I see people in a different light

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations like this one:

Friend: [Brings up name of someone we both know. Let’s call her “Jane.”]

Me: Oh, I love her! She is so quiet and sweet.

Friend: [Looks puzzled. Everything in awkward now, and I can’t figure out why.]

Me: Am I missing something?

Friend: Oh, no. I mean, I love Jane too. It’s just that I’d never think to use those words to describe her.

Me: You don’t think she’s quiet and sweet?

Friend: Have you seen her posts on Facebook? This morning she was ranting about how all parents who don’t follow Dr. Amaze-o’s Theory of Potty Training should be arrested and shot, and yesterday she said that you’re a bad person if —

Me: I’m not on Facebook.

Friend: Ooooooooh. That explains it.

When a Facebook-using friend and I know someone in common who is active on Facebook, we invariably tend to have different impressions of our common acquaintance, and my impression is almost always more positive. It seems that following people on Facebook rarely improves your impression of them, and so, for better or worse, I live in ignorance of certain sides of my friends’ and neighbors’ personalities.

2. I’m not in touch with my best friend from fifth grade

I spend a lot of time debating whether it’s a pro or a con that my Facebook-free status means that I’m not in touch with old friends. I guess it’s both:

On the one hand, it would be nice to see that my friend from junior high had a baby or that my college buddy just moved back to town. On the other hand, it acts as a filter for who is really interested in rekindling a true friendship. Old friends who want to reconnect can always call, email, or text me; if that feels like too much effort, maybe that’s a sign that right now isn’t the best time for us to be getting back in touch.

3. I’m not always aware of current events

Sometimes I feel like I need to step away from the news in order to remind myself that not every single thing in the world is terrible, and not being on Facebook makes it fairly easy. I can avoid Twitter since it’s not a primary method of communication for me, and then if I just don’t check news sites I can hook up a nice little news fast. The downside, though, is that it’s easy to remain too out of the loop if I’m not diligent about keeping up with current events.

4. People don’t know when I’ve read their messages

That thing where people can message you and Facebook will tell them that you saw it? There is no way. I’d die.

5. I’m not as well networked as I could be

I’ve found that there’s a lot of value in networking — not in a cheesy, business-card-swapping, what-can-this-person-do-for-me? way, but in the sense of reaching out to others in your field, taking a genuine interest what they do, and seeing how you all can encourage and support one another. In terms of my writing “career” (using that term verrrrrrry loosely there), there’s a big disadvantage to not being on Facebook. Back when I was speaking regularly, I met all sorts of great folks at conferences whom I would have liked to keep up with. We didn’t get to know each other well enough to exchange emails or texts, and the fact that I’m not on Facebook meant lots of missed opportunities to stay connected.

6. I’m still distracted by the internet

My friends tell me that Facebook is particularly addictive because you always want to check in and see what the people you know are up to. There’s always fresh content posted by folks whose lives you are invested in, so who can resist taking a peek at what’s new? I can see how that would be a big lure, but I assure you that I’ve never found myself staying offline on the grounds that there’s nothing interesting on the internet today.

7. It’s easier to remove myself from toxic situations

Fortunately this hasn’t happened in a long time, but every once in a while I’ll encounter a person or a situation that is really stressing me out and draining my energy, and I’ll decide that I need to step away for the sake of my sanity. In these cases I find that I can make more of a clean break than if we were officially connected on Facebook.

8. It helps me cut down on mental clutter

This, for me, is the single biggest reason I’ve never gotten an account. I find that any online interactions tend to be more stressful than in-person interactions, even when they’re positive. Did she understand that I was kidding? Is it rude that I replied to his tweet but not hers? Did my answer seem too curt? These kinds of little low-grade stressors are ever-present when I’m on email or Twitter or any other virtual forum where I’m interacting with people. It leads to a lot of psychological “clutter, ” and, as I said earlier this week, I tend to get really stressed by that kind of thing. Especially that I’m in a phase of life where I barely have enough brain clean-up time as it is, I’m afraid that Facebook would create a level of mental mess that I can’t keep up with.

. . .

As you can see, I’m conflicted. I might never have a Facebook account…or I might have one by the end of the week. And I certainly can’t tell you whether or not it’s good for you to have an account. But I thought that sharing this list might be helpful for others who find themselves in similar dilemmas.

Let me end with a question for those of you who are on Facebook:

–> If you could go back in time and never sign up for an account in the first place, would you do it?

I’ll be very interested to hear your answers.


  1. Jen

    Yes! If I could go back in time I would not have a FB account. It does create way too much mental clutter. And I learn more about people than I’d really like to know. Every day I say I’m not going to check it. And then I do. It becomes an addiction.

    On a positive note, it does allow my family from around the country the chance to see what’s happening with us. But there are other ways we could share info with those who matter.

    I really think I need to quit it. Thanks to your post I’m going to try to go FB free for a while.

  2. Joshua Lancette

    I used to have a Facebook, but deleted it about a year ago. I will never go back. Since deleting it, I think about others more positively, I think about myself more positively, I am less concerned with people being impressed by my life, and am more satisfied with my life. Yes, there are good parts to Facebook, such as staying in touch, but I think the negatives outweigh the positives. Plus, it’s kind of nice to hear news from people’s mouths rather than seeing it on Facebook first. So I would suggest not getting one!

    • Terri

      Joshua, these are my feelings exactly. I stopped my account at the beginning of this summer and have never had a more peaceful and lovely summer with my children. Facebook definitely adds to my mental clutter and I agree with Jen’s thought, people with whom you have affection for in person, are downright unbearable on Facebook. It encourages this “look at me, look at me!” attitude that I find hard to forgive and ignore. It is also weird to know so much information about mere acquaintances- you know when their kids are potty-training, where they went on vacation, who they voted for, it’s just too much!

  3. Claire

    I’m contemplating my answer to this question. I have a FB account, and have no plans to delete it. I mostly base this on the fact that I am an introvert, and I would never keep in touch with anyone if not for FB.

    I am also guilty of ranting a couple of times after the last election. So much so that many in my husband’s family no longer want much to do with me. We are at completely opposite sides of the political debate. I no longer rant, and I basically pass over all the news that makes my blood boil, and opt for reading “pages” of subjects I like. I also private message with close friends.

    FB does waste a lot of time. If you have never opened an account…don’t. You’ll be much happier not joining the FB rat race. 😉

  4. Marie

    I really enjoy Facebook. But I have rules to which I adhere. I have alot of privacy blocks. I don’t post pictures of my husband, he does not like it. I don’t brag or complain about my children. Unless I don’t name them and have an Erma Bombeck perspective. I try to be uplifting. I don’t discuss politics. My faith is only discussed by posting inspirational quotes or articles. I unfriend anyone who uses foul language. If asked why I simply say I get uncomfortable with foul language.

    I have reconnected with high school and college friends. While I have seen a few face to face since connecting, mostly it’s still just through Facebook. But I don’t mind, it’s comforting staying in touch with people who knew you through your formative years. We are very supportive if one another.

    So I don’t find myself addicted. It’s sort if a side interest. Btw none of my you none of my young adult kids are on Facebook anymore as thats “just weird.” And while my 12 year old is not allowed to have an account, she has never even asked. It’s all about Instagram and Twitter.

    • Catherine

      I also have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love it especially since a few years ago I moved to the opposite coast from all of my extended family, and many of them (especially my siblings and cousins) are really active on Facebook. We have the kind of family where everyone likes everyone elses’ statuses, and gushes happily over pictures. I make an effort to always add encouraging comments to my younger cousins’ statuses, and it helps me (an introvert who really hates talking on the phone) feel more connected to people I love.

      On the other hand, its easy to get irritated with people when they get needy, braggy, annoying, rude, etc. I don’t unfriend people, but I do stop following people on my newsfeed. Really only my family and close friends show up on my newsfeed. This not only makes it easy to not have to subject myself to people who are energy drainers, but it also makes my newsfeed a lot less dyanamic – read, its more boring, and I’m not as tempted to check it all the time. I also put blogs and organizations I follow on facebook in a seperate “interest group” so they don’t show up on my newsfeed, but when I’m in the mood to look at groups I’ve made like, “food blogs,” or “homeschooling” I can look over them. I usually forget to, so that clears out a lot of in your face clutter. With these tweaks, facebook works for me.

  5. Casey @ My Love Is Too Little

    I have a real love/hate relationship with Facebook. I’ve had an account for several years, and I can definitely agree that it is a huge time drain. More like a time black hole, really. I’ve gone through several periods (like right now for instance) in which I completely avoid Facebook for weeks, and I always marvel at how much time I’m wasting on FB when I realize how much more time I have for other things without it.

    The positives for me are keeping up with news items and items of interest on from organizations I like. Also, I’ve reconnected with the odd friend or two I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    For me, one of the big downsides is the illusion of closeness to family/friends. I make an effort to go back and read all the posts of people close to me and comment on some of them, but I’ve noticed very few people seem to do the same. Personally, I think it’s kind of sad to want to share something with people, and then you get no likes or comments on your post since nobody sees it, because it’s impossible to keep up with everything everyone says when you have hundreds of friends’ status updates scrolling across your screen. I feel like I have fewer meaningful interactions with people, even if it seems like I’m constantly in their lives because I’m reading status updates.

    I honestly don’t know if I want to keep my FB account or not.

  6. Sarah

    Lately I’ve been contemplating the very same thing. If I knew then what I know now, I would NOT join facebook….and yet, I find myself frozen in deciding whether or not to cancel/delete my account. These days, I lean more toward deleting it.

    It has been a great source of encouragement for me at times, but the invasion of privacy (one incident that happened IN PERSON) would never be worth it. I’ve learned a lot about what to share and what not to share, so that helps….and with a fairly recent move away from friends (we have no nearby supportive family at all), it HAS helped a bit with the loneliness factor. I often wonder about deleting it and then think, “if I didn’t have facebook, I’d have NO ONE to talk to.”

    Now that we’ve started attending a local homeschool co-op, it might be easier for me to think of deleting it; now that I have built-in mommy time and can make some good “live” friends. (sorry for the ramble – I haven’t finished my coffee and coherent thought is still rough this morning) 🙂

    …I’m REALLY looking forward to reading other comments!

  7. Jeff Thompson

    I’m a current facebook user and am as conflicted about dropping facebook as you are joining. I do not have plans to delete it, but I do find it can be a time waster, so I need to manage the amount of time i sepnd there.

    The advantages to facebook are many. One is, many of my family and friends are on there, and it’s a great way to keep in touch. I also enjoy hearing from friends from the past. I’ve been able to reconnect with people I would have never reconnected with had it not been for facebook. Sharing pictures is also much easier.

    The disadvantages are also numerous. As I mentioned earlier, much time can be wasted. The more facebook “friends” you have , the more pictures, status updates there are to read if you want. You can get to the point where you get overhwlmed with trying to keep up with everybody. The more time you are spending on there, the less time you have to do more importatn things, like spending quality time with your spouse and children. Yes it is nice to see what someone you haven’t seen in 20 years is up to who lives halfway across the country, but it is nicer to spend more time with the ones in and more important in your life now. You can also get sucked into forwarding political opinions that no nothing but fire up the half of your friends who are on the ohter side politically. I’ve noticed for some that facebook helps them feed thier egos. They post “selfie” pics, hoping to get “likes” & flattering comments. It’s wonderful to compliment each ohter, but for some people, they are obssessed with themselves and facebook only accenuates it. If one is married, I recommend either have a joint facebook accouint with your spouse or if you want separate accounts, you should share each other’s passwords.
    In summary, facebook is a wonderful way to keep in touch with people from the past and present, but, just like anything in life, it must be done in moderation. Facebook can be a wonderful enhancement to a person’s life, but can also become addictitng and destructive.

  8. Mary

    Don’t do the Facecrack, Jen. From what I know of your personality and from all the things you listed here, I’m almost certain you’d eventually regret it. Facebook is basically one big virtual party with many of the same dynamics of high school and well, introvert, right? You would probably have over a thousand friends immediately and I can’t even imagine wading through a newsfeed like that and the amount of visual and mental clutter that would create.

    I wouldn’t say that I /regret/ opening an account since there’s been a lot of good from it and it certainly is unmatched in its ability to communicate with people or groups but the cost is VERY high. I decided a few weeks ago the peace it was stealing just wasn’t worth it anymore. So I stopped going on unless I had a real and valid reason to do so (respond to a comment, message someone, etc.) And I feel so. much. better. I feel like I can breathe again. Like it’s okay that every movement of my day does not need to be validated by “friends” and that I’m living for God and my husband and my kids again and not for a status update. It’s quite humbling to realize how much it can affect you but the constant mental noise is real as well as the drama and sin it has the potential to create. Right now I have an account like I said so that I can go on as needed to message and am part of several groups that help me network for doula stuff plus a really lame blog page but I no longer go on just because and I don’t allow myself to scroll through the newsfeed. But you certainly can network without it and I think people more respect a person of your caliber who stays away. It does suck to feel like you’re out of the loop on all the fun stuff and I realized I am a bit less aware of current events (but really, that’s not so much a bad thing all the time). I just realized I only have so much time to go around. Hours on Facebook just didn’t fit anymore and ultimately was not part of my vocation and the mental noise was killing me. At the risk of sounding overly pious, will it help you grow in holiness and get you and your family to heaven? For me right now the answer is no.

  9. christine

    After years of cajoling by my dad, I finally signed up for a FB account. I enjoy it, but only because I am VERY particular about who I friend. I refuse to friend anyone who lives in my city. If I want to see what someone from church is up to, I’ll do so in person.
    I very much enjoy keeping in touch with my 2 friends who have been transferred out of the country and with family member scattered around the country.
    What made me finally make the jump into it, though, was to keep tabs on what one of my family members was posting. I found out she was posting photos of my kids, including some of my daughter in her bathing suit at a family function. Since getting on FB, I’ve been able to catch them and tell her to take the photos down. She isn’t exactly trustworthy, so simply telling her to stop doing it didn’t work.

  10. Lisa

    I have actually enjoyed facebook! I am in my mid-40s (I don’t know how that happened!), and I have reconnected with many of my childhood friends through facebook. I reconnected with one childhood friend (I’ve been friends with him since we were both 5) who was a Catholic priest, left the priesthood, moved in with his girlfriend and then died of an illness. It is a sad story! But I was connected to him through some of these stages via facebook, and I pray for him every day. I feel called to pray for him, and I do. I hope that some of my prayers softened his heart in his final days. I don’t know if they did, but no prayer is wasted. I reconnected with a beloved friend from elementary school that I never would have found in any other way. She is a treasure and I am just so glad that we have reconnected. I have family all over the world (I really do), and we stay in touch on facebook with pictures of the kids and that sort of thing. And one of my favorite things about facebook is that many of my favorite Catholic writers and speakers have facebook pages, and they post a lot of wonderful things that have really inspired me. And as for people that are stressing me out on facebook (e.g. the female college classmate that I actually never really knew but is fb friends with thousands and is now a bisexual Episcopalian priest), I hide them so that I don’t have to see their stuff. That works really well. Although I have had a good experience with facebook, I recognize that a lot of people have a different experience. I completely understand that. I would say if it is dragging you down, sign off and don’t come back. I get it, I really do. And I have had to learn to sign-in less. Anyway, good luck to all in facebook land! I have often weighed the positives and negatives, and for me I can’t live without the positives.

  11. Kathy@9peas

    I deleted my first facebook account and stayed away for almost a year. When I rejoined it was with some ideas of how to make facebook work for me – it is my news reel. My favorite bloggers are in my news feed, I do enjoy reading updates and seeing photos but I also stay clear of facebook drama. Once I started using it as a news reel I really enjoyed facebook because it is tailor made for ‘me’.

    • tacy@ Picture a Skyline

      these are my thoughts exactly! sorry, i’m typing one handed!!

  12. Christine

    My husband and I have never had FB accounts. (I thought we were the only ones!) My reasoning is that: 1) everyone I want to keep in touch with, I already do, and 2) I already waste enough time on the internet. (There are some privacy concerns as well, but those were the main reasons.)

    I really don’t think I’m missing out, but who know? 🙂

  13. Jules

    This one is a hard question! I work in a secular youth leadership program, and Facebook does allow me to connect with the teens on a much different level than if I just saw them weekly. I can catch up on their lives and encourage them in good behaviors and activities and then have more friendly conversations about the bad ones. Hopefully my status updates provide a reasonable adult role model type balance to some of the other items on their feed.

    My siblings and I don’t talk much. It isn’t that we don’t like each other; we just don’t talk a lot. So Facebook keeps me up to date with the family. I also think it has become such a part of the culture that I miss things if I don’t check in on at least my close friends, as I discovered last Lent. These are people who re-introduced me to Jesus, whose kids call me Aunt Julie, and with whom I speak many times a week. I realized I was missing stuff because I wasn’t on FB. They’d just forget to tell me since they posted it there.

    On the other hand, it is the most majorly unproductive and addictive time suck on the planet. I will take my phone with me to the bathroom at work to check it. I will sit there and reload the page over and over again while on the sofa to see if someone has posted something new. I have been known to think “I ought to check facebook one more time before heading into Mass.” Seriously? WHY? I’ve recently deleted the app from my phone so as to avoid this. That makes it slightly harder since I then need to get into Safari and actually type the address in to get there, which seems like a high barrier for use in most cases.

  14. Amelia

    I’m on Facebook and I love it…no regrets really. I just find it to be such an easy way to share news and keep in touch with people. We’ve moved around a lot, and really Facebook is the one way I’m able to keep in touch with people, find out who is expecting, who bought a new house, see people’s kids, etc. I’m super bad at calling/emailing (and we do’t have texting on our phones), but Facebook is just the easiest way to keep in touch. It’s how I found out my cousin is expecting or a college friend has cancer or another friend’s son had surgery. I like having that little connection, that little insight into people’s lives….people I otherwise wouldn’t really call or email with but I still care about.

    I tend to be involved in a lot of different activities and we’ve moved a lot, so I have a pretty wide circle friends/acquaintance, many of whom I can’t always see in person, but Facebook lets us stay in touch. I actually find Facebook to be a much more time efficient way to keep in touch with people. I can just hit “like” or write a quick “Congratulations” or “Praying for You”, while it generally takes me much longer to write an email. I tend to deliberate over the exact phrasing and have mental debates over whether I should sign it “Love, Amelia,” “Best, Amelia”, Peace, Amelia”…it is way more stressful than than the few words FB lets me post.

    I also have no qualms about unfriending or hiding someone if I find their posts to be too negative or too political or they otherwise drag me down. There were 1 or 2 people I hid from my newsfeed last election season.

    All that is to say that FB is no more of a negative for me than the rest of the internet…and I waste much more time on blogs or emails or discussion boards than I do on FB.

    • Trish

      I fully agree with Amelia – I Love that FB lets me stay in touch with Family and Friends who I might otherwise not hear from or see – mostly the ones in other states!! I can watch their children grow up via photos, celebrate momentous occasions (Graduations, Weddings, Etc.) with them, and send gifts because of knowing about the event!! Plus, I’ve reconnected with some high school and college friends – and friends from a state where I lived for about 10 years before moving back to my home state!! I LOVE FB – :o)

    • Charlotte

      Just a question that I’m struggling with… there are certain people who’s posts I have hidden from my news feed. I did it a while ago so I don’t remember specifically why. I never see anything from them but I struggle with the guilt of “unfriending” them. It sounds stupid to say it out loud but it’s a real thing. In the rational part of my brain I think, “Why don’t you just unfriend them if you really don’t care to see updates from them?” but when it comes to actually doing it, I find it hard. So my question to you is, the people you hid during the election, did you go back and unhide them after the election? if not, why don’t you just unfriend them? I really am curious.

  15. Kelly M.

    I like having Facebook, but I have modified the settings heavily to avoid drama, certain people, etc. Yes, it is addicting in some ways, but I find I get more benefit than headache. However, I don’t think most people know how to make their feeds more friendly which is why so many people are unhappy with it.
    I just wrote about this too! And it’s already become my most popular post so I would think that means the majority of people on FB are looking for ways to improve their interactions there.

  16. Christine

    Stay away from Facebook. You don’t need the hassle. I finally quite cold Turkey Jan 1 and for some godforsaken reason I went back a few weeks ago and I’m hooked again. Addicted. I haven’t reloaded the ap on my phone or iPad & I don’t plan to. Stay away – Facebook will steal precious time from your life.

  17. Rosie

    Honestly, I’ve never really had a problem with facebook… I’ve had an account since 2004, since my college was one of the first to be added to the network. It’s changed a lot since then, obviously, but I tend to hide people whose status updates I don’t like, and I’ve found it’s a really good way to get to know people when any play dates are mostly full of trying to get the kids to stop eating play dough or whatnot! Plus I’m right in the middle of the introvert/extravert spectrum, so there are definitely a lot of times when I’d rather interact with someone over facebook/email than in person.

    I also feel like it’s less awkward to friend someone on facebook than ask for their email address or phone number. I don’t know why, but it is!

    Anyway, if you haven’t read Kelly’s tips on facebook (, I think they’re a good primer!

  18. Katie

    My husband changed my password on Facebook because it was destroying my sanity! People keep posting stuff up there telling me that I’m a bad, terrible, ignorant person because I don’t support their political views. I got in a few rows trying to give the other point of view when I was told by complete strangers who don’t know me at all that I was ignorant and offensive, but (being the really virtuous people that they are) they’re not going to ‘judge me’. I never knew that the people I thought were friends could be so aggressive or that I could feel so vulnerable and naive. My husband pointed out that I could ruin my career or lose a job for saying the wrong thing in such a public forum, so I quit and left them to their ‘saving the world’/hatefest.

    Unfortunately, I then almost missed a job opportunity because somebody told me about it through Facebook message, so I had to rejoin, but I now try to be very self-controlled and not get into comment wars.

    I probably now sound totally oversensitive and neurotic and like I have a totally overly protective husband. Maybe Facebook just brought out the worst in my personality.

  19. Cathy

    Hey Jen I used to have a Facebook…with tons of friends, most of whom I did not have a close relationship with AT ALL. So one day I just cut the cord and have never looked back. I now wear it like a badge, ‘I’m not on Facebook”
    I feel free from having to keep up posting pictures and free from reading post by friends then thinking afterwards, ‘well she just slipped 10 notches on my list because of that lame and embarrassing post’…what was she thinking?
    Anyway, getting off Facebook is always a good idea. -just my two cents from a long time lover of your blog.

  20. Hope

    The thing I like the most about Facebook is the articles friends post that I would never know about otherwise. It’s what keeps me from making my account inactive.

  21. Cathy

    I’m far from addicted to FB. I can stay away for a week and not miss it. Pro: I can see what is happening with family and old friends. Like an old circular letter. Also, I have a niece who is autistic and a selective mute. I wouldn’t even know her except through FB, as I’ve never had a conversation with her. Con: some people have zero filtering. I have a colleague who posts about every migraine and digestive upset. I had another ‘friend’ who posted every time she cracked a can of Diet Coke.

    To defend against this, I only look at FB on a regular computer where I can scroll quickly past all this nonsense without really reading it. I also never look at anyone’s page. I don’t care what others posted there.

    If you want the old friends and family version, just restrict who you friend. It has been months since I’ve been friended. All my friends are now my friends. What everyone seems to be doing now is Linked In. Which I have, but have never used.

  22. Ali

    I find FB very useful. I’m pretty sure I would never see my friends without events that are planned on facebook, since I don’t have a cell phone and am never privy to last-minute group texts inviting everyone over (etc).

    I don’t update my status too often, and I never ever comment on something that makes me annoyed or angry. In fact I very rarely do anything except ‘like’ a picture or status update.

    But it can easily become a waste of time. For lent last year I limited my internet time to 30 minutes a day, and found that using more than 3 minutes of that time on FB was a waste, and cut down considerably. Of course, since then I’ve gone back to ‘just checking facebook reeaaallly fast’ and finally getting off when my children are climbing all over me, but that’s something I can always work on.

  23. Christina

    Back when I got Facebook was when it was only for college students (I happens to have a high school with a college name in the email so I snuck in). The old college yearbooks were called facebooks. At first when they added non-college people I did not like it. But now that I am a young mom and live 7 hours away from family I have enjoyed having it. I would admit to being on it too much at times..but everything in moderation, right? My mom also does Facebook free Fridays which is a good concept! But with age group (25+) we have lived with Facebook for 10 years and hardly use email. Catch 22 if I’d say so..

  24. Abigail Benjamin

    I was a Facebook addict. I logged on 20 to 30 times a day. I thought it was awesome. I really kept in close touch with a bunch Catholic friends. It was easier than email to start chats among multiple people. I felt so much better informed during the last election. Leila from Little Catholic Bubble had these live FB chats during the Presidential debates that were hilarious. It also was good for me to post “Catholic stuff” and be seen by my non-Catholic relatives. I felt exposed, since I tend to flee from controversy, and that is a good thing.

    However I closed down my account 3 months ago. BEST THING EVER! I shut down because it was too much of a time killer while I’m trying to work on a hard writing assignment. Every second counts and I didn’t want to waste it on Facebook. My husband was shocked.

    I’ve got to say, my mental health has improved since I left Facebook. The really good friend, I saw all the time on FB, I now talk to on the phone with often. Those phone calls are way more important than our flurry of notes on FB. I’ve lost some of the daily contact with blogger friends, but I feel like I go to their blogs now and really take time to read their posts, comment in detail. I email them more. It’s a more intimate form of contact, even if it’s less frequent.

    I still have those moments where I think “This would be so fun to post on Facebook” and yet it’s not really a moment that I could put easily onto my blog.

    But my mind is less cluttered. I don’t know what everything thinks about this public event or that book. So I have to take time to make up my own mind about something. I don’t feel guilt that today is some big event in Downtown DC and yet the Lord’s plan for me is to stay at home and feel morning sickness all day. No Facebook makes me more content and happy.

  25. Kristin

    I love Facebook, and would absolutely still get an account. I first signed up when my younger sisters urged me to do so – we were living across the country from each other, and they wanted to be able to stay connected easily. Now, two kids later, I tend to post mostly little funny things one of my boys has said or done, or little stories about our day, and I have an Evernote journal set up to automatically record these so I’ve got them saved. I love that! I find Facebook to be the best way to stay in touch with family and friends, especially since we move often and we’ve lived either overseas or across the country from a lot of them. It lets me stay in contact with friends we’ve made overseas, see photos of their kids, hear what’s happening in their lives without needing to worry about whose turn it is to send an e-mail or if I’m sharing too much or whether they have time to answer. Even with people in the same area we’re in now, it’s been helpful since with two little guys I can’t have the same social life as I’d like, but Facebook helps me interact with adults a time or two during the day and reach out to friends when needed. It’s meant a tremendous amount to me to have so many friends comment with their condolences when my mother died, or congratulations when my sons were born… lots of them from old friends I had totally lost touch with who would never have known or sent a card, and their sweet words were so precious to me. There are occasionally people who start to use the news feed as their personal soapbox, but I just “hide” their posts or, if it’s too much stress/hassle, “unfriend” them. Unless they specifically check, they won’t even know. It can be a time suck, but blogs and Pinterest can really do that to me too, so if I wasn’t on Facebook I’m sure I’d just find other ways to spend time online but not feel as connected to friends and family.

  26. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings

    Despite the many disadvantages which can be addressed with self discipline, I will reluctantly continue on FB. Being hundreds of miles away from nearest family with a hubby working crazy hours & traveling; being homeschoolers whose nearest co-op is two counties over; and being in a rural area, FB is a lifeline for help, support, networking, & organization.

  27. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Hi Jen,

    I have an account for my blog, but have a “FB assistant” who helps me keep up and that helps a lot, because I am not naturally a FB kind of person. Life is too busy to be on the computer more!


  28. Kristy

    If I were to go back in time… yes, I’d create a Facebook account. It is such a great way to keep in touch with everybody. I did it first to keep an eye on my teens, but now it’s more for me (most teens are off in Twitter because of too many 40+ on Facebook). All of the concerns you listed about Facebook are valid, so it’s something to use with caution. Facebook was absolutely terrible during the time leading up to, and immediately following the last presidential election. It also is, GASP, a time sucker. So it has to be used with caution. All things in moderation, don’t friend people you don’t want to keep in touch with, keep the highest privacy settings possible, don’t play the games (well, except Words with Friends, which is mind candy for me). I don’t know if FB would work for you, Jen. You’re awfully busy with the little ones + your blogging and writing. Since I don’t blog or write, FB is my de-stressor and a way to stay a little bit plugged in with the outside world.

  29. Marjorie S.

    Don’t start FB. There are so many other ways to be connected in a positive way. I find it draining on my time, mental attitude, and privacy. FB is like an open door to your life, a plate glass window even with privacy controls. Remember that any info you (or your FB friends) place on FB about you can never be erased. Companies use that data to target ads, etc. I saw a recent news article that discussed the fact that some companies are now experimenting using data about your FB “friends” to evaluate your credit worthiness! Here is a link to the CNN article – Some people also use FB to connect with groups related to medical issues, etc. Do you really want info on your medical status/problems to be public knowledge? Seek on-line private forums.

    I have had a FB acct for several years and I am ready to delete it. I FB is basically a public discussion – like a giant cocktail party where you try to mingle, talking only in unsatisfying snippets. At first FB was a good way to see pictures of my nieces and nephews and to “reconnect” with old friends. I also posted some pictures of my kids and updates on how and what they were doing. FB seemed like a quick and easy way to not seem to be so introverted, to be “hip” and “connected”. Truth is that I have not really reconnected with anyone from my past. In many cases, I’ve seen that we are in radically different places in life, that they are using FB for advertising purposes,or just trying to draw attention to themselves.

    Slowly, I have pulled my own FB presence back. I am definitely an introvert and I want friendships that are much deeper than a quick “like” or a one sentence response. I really don’t want people to know what is going on in my family. So many posts sound like bragging – look what we have accomplished, where we went on vacation, what political group I support or abhor,etc. If I am going to communicate w/someone I don’t want it to be through a third party. In FB’s place, I can talk to my sisters and parents or get together with friends IRL and have a REAL conversation. My best friend lives 3000 miles away and we take the time to skype each other regularly and write long e-mails. It is much more meaningful.

    Don’t start FB. It is not worth the time. Of to hit delete on my own FB acct . . . .

  30. Clara

    If I could go back, I would NOT get a Facebook account. I find the interactions on there rather shallow, and one dimensional. People are complex and interesting, but that is not usually captured on FB. I also always end up feeling insecure after being on FB, i usually end up comparing my life to other’s-my problem, I know- but I do much better when I avoid it. I have not logged-on in 6 months or more and I do not miss it. I will miss birthday reminders for friends, but I plan on making a list of birthdays for close friends before I delete my account. Just my 2 cents.

    • Jessica

      You don’t know me, but I just saw your comment and wanted to say that I use Birthday Alarm to keep track of birthdays/anniversaries, and I love it! It gives me reminders according to my settings and you can either have your friends fill in the info or you can do it manually. And no I don’t work for them, I’m just helping a sister out. 🙂

    • Rachel P

      I too had a FB account, but deleted it a year or two ago when I went through a truly difficult time personally and in my marriage. Comparing my life to my ” Friends’ ” highlight reels only made me feel like I wasn’t enough and that my life wasn’t as fulfilled as it truly is/was. As I tell my children, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” And for me, FB stole my joy because I was not able to feel like I was always missing out on fabulous trips and Girls Nights Out. I hated all the “my kids are more amazing than your kids” posts, too. I could go on and on, but I know that I am much more joyful since I deleted my account.

  31. Anna

    I was part of the generation of people who were actually in college when Facebook came around, and I was really excited to get it at first. There are definitely some pros, like I could share a spontaneous funny post with a friend who is on my mind that would be weird to send in an email. I will say, though, that lately what you posted at number 1 here is SO TRUE. I have a friend (friends enough that I’m in her wedding this weekend) who I (used to) really like, and if I think of the reasons now she bugs me or why I don’t like her as much, they ALL have something to do with something I read on her Facebook page. It is a trap you can REALLY easily fall into if you don’t have your own personal Facebook “rules.” (Like I won’t post about politics/abortion/what I ate for dinner and I will only check it three times a day, etc.) Thanks for this thought-provoking post!

  32. Martina

    Ahhh, good old Facebook. Rachael and I were just talking about this yesterday.

    I would still create an account, for sure. I think most of the problems we see {with any social media platform, tbh} is people not using basic manners. The scenario above with the friend essentially goes into detraction – because what was the point of offering said friend’s rant?

    People just don’t know how to 1) use their manners 2) walk away if they see a controversial topic and 3) forget that it’s ok for others to have differing opinions.

    But, I’ve seen this same kind of behavior on Twitter, Pinterest comboxes, Instagram, etc. It happens…everywhere.

    The question is what is the good that can come from being on Facebook…how I operate my blog and the fan page is all housed on Facebook – so I literally do not have time to get sucked into pointless debates on FB – well, anywhere – but it keeps me focused on what I need to get done.

    I think if someone is truly addicted to the internet, then FB would not be a good place to spend time. However, if they are working hard at spreading the Gospel message on the digital continent, then it’s a HUGE missed opportunity to not tap into that wide market.

    Personally, having grown up in East Texas, almost 1/4 of my friend list is from the town I grew up in – i.e. evangelical Baptist land. I think it’s important to be an example {privately and on my own terms vs. the public eyes of other social media platforms} of Christianity to others. That is really important to me. I also do post links that can be controversial, but since it’s *my* wall, *my* page, I can set up the parameters of the discussion and hold people to a higher standard of discussion than simply flying off the rails and spiraling into ad hominem attacks.

    So…not to say the points you aren’t bringing up aren’t valid, just that each person has to weigh the pros and the cons and that looks differently for each person.

    For me, I would be missing an opportunity to share the Gospel and I just won’t walk away from that.

    **I totally agree about the “seen” feature on chats – I think most friends of mine understand that just because I “saw” it doesn’t mean that I necessarily had time to read *and* respond. My iPhone does the same and I opt out of that feature because I don’t need all that added drama.

  33. Jennifer Fitz

    I really enjoy FB, but probably because it isn’t that interesting. If I want to get in a rousing debate or post on something controversial, I do it over on my blog, where no one has to see what I say. I keep my personal FB presence office-party polite, and rarely post a status update. (Exception: A couple private groups I belong to — and I find that the group function on FB is *great* — works better for short chit-chat exchanges than anything else I’ve used.) What I love: Being able to check in on people I like, and see what they’re up to. I like a lot of people. 99% of my friends disagree with me, vehemently, about something, so seeing them post political or religious stuff is no big deal, doesn’t bother me, no problem.

    It can be a time suck, for sure. But if I weren’t clicking the like button, I’d probably be on the phone wasting time instead. Even though I’m an introvert, I do like talking to people. That said, I use it as a replacement for casual chiti-chat, not for deep friendships. I make a point of ordering my life so there’s hours of serious, real-life friendship going on every week, in person. I’d go nuts if I used FB for anything deep. It’s not deep. It’s a smile and nod.

  34. KimP

    I have a FB account. I think it is like any other tool – it can be used for good or ill. It can also be used to the extent that you see fit. I don’t post a lot on it (except links to a new blog post that I have written, or maybe a photo of some home improvement project), but I like to see the photos of my friends and their children. I don’t look at it every day. If I miss something, I miss it. No biggie. I like being in touch with high school friends, even if it is a tenuous connection. I like knowing that I COULD talk to them or send them a message if I really wanted to. Also, I don’t live in the same state as my mother, and I enjoy seeing photos and updates from her that she might not otherwise email about. I think she feels the same. So it works for us, but if stresses you out, then you it won’t work for you. Like most things, you just have to give it a try and see how it goes!

  35. Erika Evans

    I’ve been on Facebook for more than five years and I’d definitely have an account again.

    Facebook is just like the rest of the internet. Your experience is what you make it. If it’s taking up too much time or stressing you out, go on a fast or give yourself some guidelines, for example check in for 15 minutes in the morning and then log out for the day. Decide not to install the app on your phone or tablet. Be choosy about whom you befriend. Etc.

    Facebook is super-customizable. You can hide people (without them knowing) whom you don’t want to defriend, but whose posts bother you-like a few of my relatives who constantly post pro-abortion memes. But we’re still friends, so we can still interact when, say, someone creates a group for a family reunion or to organize a surprise party and adds us both to it. You can also hide individual posts, and you can turn off notifications for games that just clutter up your feed. You can also do what my husband does, which is have an account that you check a few times a week to keep up on everyone, but never post or comment, so no one expects you to : ) You can create custom categories of audiences for your posts if there are things you don’t want to share with everyone on your friends list.

    Facebook for me has been of inestimable value in keeping in touch with people I care about. I like being able to see peoples’ vacation pictures and kids and pithy observations and funny stories. I have friends and family all over the country and the world and no matter how well-intentioned we are, it’s just too difficult to keep up with everyone. I don’t buy the ‘if she doesn’t have time to text or email me individually then she doesn’t really want to be my friend’ thing. I love all my far-flung friends but I’m working and raising four busy kids and involved in all kinds of stuff, and I just can’t email or call people individually when things worth sharing come across the bow. And some of the things I share that bring a smile to others’ face (and vice versa) is not the sort of thing you’d email anyone over–like getting a hilariously tactful letter from my second grade daughter’s school principal yesterday stating that there had been a few “incidents” recently and she regretfully had to ask parents to please wear underwear under see-through clothing while at the school. I shared that on Facebook yesterday and great fun was had by all discussing it! I love being able to connect over those little slices of life!

    It also helps keep me connected to people who think differently than I do and keeps my mind sharp. I have strong opinions about spiritual and political topics, but I have family and old friends who believe very differently than I do. By hearing what they have to say about things and VERY selectively interacting about those topics, it helps insure I don’t get stuck in an intellectual or spiritual bubble. (I can’t bring myself to read people like Amanda Marcotte directly like you do!)

    Besides just regular friendships it’s great to be able to follow people and institutions and be a part of groups. My old MOPS has a private-group Facebook page where the ladies can share ideas, ask questions, network and submit prayer requests. That activity, if done over email, would generate dozens of emails a day and who has time to keep up with that? I love being able to follow my favorite publications and groups we’re involved with (PTA for the kids’ schools, their sports leagues and teams, church) and get updates on events and programs quickly and efficiently.

  36. Erin

    I would do it again. I use facebook primarily to keep track of a small group of good friends and family and also news. In fact, most of what is on my news feed is from Catholic news sites, ministries, bloggers (YOU!) and major media outlets. It’s also a great way to keep track of sales and deals as most retailers post coupons etc. It is only peppered with friend and family updates. I also have a very strict policy when it comes to friending. I’m not friends with everyone I’ve ever known in my life. That keeps the chaos and the temptation to find out whatever happened to Sally Smith from 7th grade to a minimum.

    Facebook is very customizable as well. My status updates, photos and posts are only shared with a select few. In other words, I only share stuff with people who (I think!) actually care or are interested – mostly family and really good friends. And I only post a couple times a month anyway. And you can block or minimize what you see from others.

    I’ve noticed over the years that people do not share as much as they used to. Maybe we are all getting a little weary of the constant contact.

    So, it is possible to use Facebook as a tool. Like anything else it can be abused and morph into an incredible time-waster. But for me the positives outweigh the negatives.

  37. Paule

    No. 8 !
    So well described! this is exactly how i feel.

  38. Melissa Fisher

    I avoided it as long as possible. Where I live now, it’s the only way to knowing what is going on in the homeschooling community and am using it. There is some good and bad to it, so I would make my choices the same way. Don’t go there unless there is a strong need!

    -Melissa F.

  39. Jackie

    Agree with all of your positives and negatives Jen. For me as a wife and mom facebook has become somewhat of an online bulletin board. We live out in the country so I tend to get disconnected from all of the cool and interesting events going on in the community. Facebook allows me to feel somewhat connected to people and places I would not normally hear from or about. I have blocked most of the obnoxious people’s feeds from showing up so most people I hear about I enjoy hearing from. It does get to be another thing to do, scrolling through ones newsfeed to make sure you are not missing something, but I still wouldn’t want to cancel my account.

  40. Tammy

    I think FB is easier for us to navigate when we keep to some pretty serious rules of decorum.

    -I am VERY careful what I write about work…I only include things I would be comfortable with my boss reading
    -I never complained publicly about my husband and I lose respect for women who do (I use past tense here because he is dead, not because I started complaining about him publicly). I would vent privately to a few trusted friends
    -When my husband was alive, I did not friend any men (especially old boyfriends or old school chums) to me it was a near occasion of sin.
    -I never ever participate in FB arguments or battles except when I publicly called out my sister in law for posting photos of my husbands grave when we asked her not to.
    -I dont drink thus there are no photos of me impaired at parties that can get me in trouble

    There are a lot of other good guidelines people might suggest and I will admit that I am somewhat addicted and waste time but honestly it was a lifeline to stay attached to people in my time of grief…like anything it is a tool…you can use a hammer to build a house or beat your neighbor to death…its all in how you use it.

  41. jill

    Thanks for this post. I have an account but never use it and i constantly get bombarded by friends about getting active. I was reluctant about getting one but friend set it up while in grad school. My husband never had one. We are introverts though. Yes fb can be an evangelization tool but so often people dont know howto communicate or have real ‘incarnational’ conversations. Id rather have few but deep stimulating convos and friends than have lots of acqaintances. I totally agree with allof your reasons…maybe itis because i grew up with scorpions and cats in my house too.

  42. TheReluctantWidow

    Going back in time, I wouldn’t sign up at all. I took about a three year break from FB between 2009 and 2012. I had an exchange with a relative in which something I said was hurtful to her because the way I was saying it in my head didn’t translate in writing. I decided to shut down my account (I don’t think you can completely delete it but you can basically disappear from people’s “friends” lists and news feeds). One of the issues I had though was that it was a primary method that friends and family share information with each other. I would talk with people about my sisters and they would tell me things they were doing that I had no idea about (trips, pics from trips, etc), because they live far away – one in another country half way around the world – and we aren’t able to Skype as often as we’d like. I felt as though I was being left out. After my husband died, I re-activated my account in part to keep in better communication with people, but also as a means for escape. However, just because I have an account doesn’t mean I have 585 “friends.” Almost all of my friends on FB are either relatives, friends in real life, or people I have met in real life and like. I don’t accept every friend request I get. I hide people from my newsfeed because, like you, I don’t want the mental clutter. And, while I was uploading pics, videos, and funny stories about my kids to FB, my children (ages 12, 9, 9, and 8) are now starting to have opinions about what others see, and I am re-thinking FB as a medium for sharing their goings-on.

    So, I am re-thinking FB. What I would like to do, if I could maintain the discipline, is to have an account but only use it to keep up with others. If I want to post things about my kids, I will ask my children first if it’s OK (no more videos of them competing in our family “Just Dance” competitions even though it was really, really fun and adorable and they are good dancers). As others have mentioned though, it’s not a place where you are meant to maintain really deep relationships, it’s shallow. The problem is that many people treat social media as though it were a means for deep relationship and have lost the art and ability to interact on a truly personal level.

  43. Kris

    Overall, I like having FB. But I also agree with almost all of your reasons NOT to have one. In my situation, my extended family is scattered all over the country. I’m close to all my cousins, and it’s a way to easily keep in touch, see pictures, etc. We have some family “groups” that we’ve set up to communicate more easily with just our family. I feel closer to some of those far-flung people than I would without FB, because we are all busy with our daily lives and it’s hard to email, send pictures, etc. This makes is easier. That being said, there is also SO much that annoys me on FB. I finally made a personal rule for myself that I don’t engage in back and forth discussion or comment on political or social issues on people’s pages. I’ve just gotten too angry and I’ve also realized that nothing I can say on FB will change anyone’s opinion. That’s only something to be done in person. I already know which friends have differing social and political views, so no need to escalate anything. For me, I use it strictly to keep in touch. As far as your comment about long-lost friends finding you through other means, that is sometimes easier said than done. I think FB is a good vehicle to reconnect with people from the past – it’s easier to find them. That being said, I am careful about who I “really” want to find and reconnect with – I don’t just randomly look up people.

  44. Pam

    That is a REALLy tough question. But a great one. If I had to go back in time I would have changed some of my choices on FB. I wouldn’t have friended certain people or I wouldn’t have joined so many groups or posted certain things (especially in the earlier days). However, I have found SO many blessings in it, so I can’t say that I wish I had never set up an account. Like anything else, FB can be used for good or for evil…it affects us for better or worse.

    Before FB I couldn’t instantly share pictures with my grandparents and other family members. Not in a convenient way…let’s face it, it takes a greater amount of time to get around to sending pictures to several people through the mail. It’s not going to happen. And keeping up with email is harder than FB, at least it is for me anyway. I have a few private conversation through email. But thanks to FB I have very dynamic conversations with multiple people. It keeps me off the comment boxes of political articles because I can debate with people I actually know (and BTW have you noticed how much the Email Forwarding has been erased from our email boxes?) I only know one person who forwards me stuff now because FB is the new outlet for stuff like that (Not a reason to get on FB, just a blessing that benefits all of us, with or without FB).

    Before FB I would go to Mom forums with strangers and hash out daily dilemmas. Now I have a tight group of local homeschooling Catholic moms that belong to a FB group. This is perhaps my #1 blessing! The support that I get from those women is HUGE! And you’d think we wouldn’t get together, but not true. Through FB we say “Who wants to meet for yogurt tonight?” “I’m taking the kids to the park right now, want to come?” “I’m having Chess club at my house every Thursday at 10. Check out the Event I just posted”. It’s also a source of strength “We are at the hospital. My baby has a fever. Please pray for us.” “I’m thinking about changing Math curriculums. What do you know about A, B, or C?” Our homeschool group thrives by FB.

    When I was having my last child, there were complications. My mom could keep people updated (They were praying for me while I almost died on the table). INSTANT calls for help that don’t take much time? Blessing.

    We keep up with the Dominican Sisters and a bunch of other cool Catholic things that make my day. When my family was planning a family reunion (which turned into a funeral I’m sad to say), we connected through FB and it was wonderful. We had a FB group and we posted old pictures before the reunion. Joked and planned Tshirts/activities. And when Nana died, we comforted each other long after he funeral.

    Lessons learned? I do cut back on many of my posts. FB doesn’t need to know my every thought. (this could be true for Twitter though…which I’m rarely rarely on). I don’t HAVE to friend everyone. And I do regularly clean up my friends list. I MUST cut back on my “checking in time”. And when I do I feel better. I check after my daily prayers/reading and before I greet the kids (so I’m not distracted). I check once at lunch. And once before bed. Admittedly when I’m having a self pity kind of day, I check more often. BAD idea. But. In order to have the blessings, I have to have self-control. Sounds like life!!!

    I don’t have a blog. So maybe FB is just MY outlet. You may not feel a great need for it. I DO feel like my friends and I don’t have much to say to each other in person because “we said it all on FB”. I get it. There is one friend who’s rarely on FB. We have alot to say and we make an effort to call. But I wouldn’t have time to call a dozen people. FB is a conversation when it’s convenient. (um…is that good or bad?) :/

    It is what you make of it 🙂 I won’t judge you either way.

  45. Lindy

    I’ve been reading through the comments and agree with pretty much all of them, positive and negative. I think you have to go into it with a plan (just like your post about taking the kids to the store and the wreck divers.) Don’t get caught up in the drama. I have had to modify the way I use it. I no longer EVER post anything political, nor do I comment on something someone else has posted if it’s political–no matter how badly I want to! I’m not sure if anyone has ever changed their point of view based on a facebook thread, and relationships can be damaged as a result.

    I stick with it because (to draw from another Jen F analogy) it is one of my watering wells. I’m at home with 4 kids and we live out in the country; even the road is a quarter mile away. My news feed is full of good things, by design. It’s where I keep up with blogs I like. (Still haven’t gotten on a feed reader, maybe this is why?)

    Plus, my friends are all having babies, and I love to see their pictures of said babies. So, yes, the keeping in touch factor has been very positive. These friends would have fallen off the planet if not for facebook. Let’s face it, having kids makes one very busy, and I barely have time to call my own mother, let alone my dear college roomies. A quick “like” and comment conversation with them is far better than nothing, for me!

    Finally, since I’ve modified, I’ve sort of been using it as a spiritual tool. Let me explain: I pray for and endeavor to be nice to the people with which I would normally disagree. That’s not to say I don’t stick with my principles or any of that; it’s just that I make an effort to be kind. (I know, so radical, right?) Truly, it’s been very good for me, since I’m naturally a judgmental person. Kindness leads to kindness. Maybe this is silly, and not a very good way to go about this sort of thing, but it’s working for me. I find I’m happier and more joyful and it’s been the answer to how I’m supposed to “love my neighbor.”

    Plus, being friends with “Somechop Fisher,” for example, is terribly diverting. A lovely break from changing diapers. 🙂

  46. Cristina @ Filling my Prayer Closet

    I am an FB user – it doesn’t use me. Let me explain…I am very aware of what the filters are and I use them aggressively. If there are some people who are constantly ranting, raving or posting pictures that I don’t want popping up when I am sitting next to my children, I hide them from the feed for a while. At times, I open that back up to see if the nature of their posts have changed and if they have, great, if not, I don’t have to see pictures of half naked women on a motorcycle – – and that’s just my brother!! I have also liked all kinds of Catholic pages, this way, there are always uplifting messages and I get news from reliable and trusted Catholic sources.

    I have also removed my profile completely when I needed a time out. I have to say that during that time, I needed to just be alone. That lasted about a year when I moved from one state to another. It was my husband who thought I needed to log back in and “be social” again.

    I think if you allow FB to use you – it will use you up. As with anything on the internet, you have to be diligent, aware and discerning as to what will and will not filter through to you.

    I say, try it, the worst that happens is you don’t like it…the power of the delete button is in your control. Always.


  47. Holly

    If I could go back I wouldn’t. I only use it after my kids are in bed, but, unfortunately it’s often like trash TV. And you cannot unfriend others bc your fb page will pester you to refriend them because of your common friendships. Ex-boyfriends try to befriend you… And it’s awful at times of political elections. I allowed myself to spar with my husbands cousin about planned parenthood and komen once, and, though i was civil, she hates me now. I don’t delete due to networks with bible study groups and my old co-workers should I ever need to be in touch with them if I went back to work.

  48. Jenny

    I have been FB free since July, and I was a very, very early adapter…like I think I started using in 2005 or something, as my large public university was one of the first to get on ‘the facebook’ as it was then called. I have been so, so much freer as far as internet time, current events knowledge, and gossip-inducing info are concerned. Is it inconvenient when I need a picture or want to look for somebody’s contact info? A little. But overall it has been an immensely necessary and positive breakup. Just the other day I was talking with a friend and I told her to look up whomever’s feast day it was and give that saint an extra shout out for prayers answered and…it was Bl. Mother Teresa. How cool! And I hadn’t already read 4 quotes from her, seen 6 memes featuring her image, or visually glutted myself on factoids from her exemplary life. I can’t explain how cool it was to organically ‘discover’ the knowledge for myself instead of passively and automatically ingesting it (and therefore not really processing it) when I logged in every morning. And mid morning. And late mid morning. And lunchtime. And…well, you get the picture.

    For what it’s worth, I feel like INTP and INTJ’s are particularly ill-suited for this form of social media. It’s breeding ground for lots ‘o brooding.

    Novella, sorry. Love your new design.

    • Carolyn @ 4Life4Life

      “breeding ground for lots of brooding! ” WORD.

    • Caroline M.

      I started in 2005 too, for the same reason. It was actually really fun then, but once it went beyond college folks it got old fast. “I can’t explain how cool it was to organically ‘discover’ the knowledge for myself instead of passively and automatically ingesting it.” YES!

  49. Pam

    [I’m Back]
    When I said “I check after my daily prayers/reading and before I greet the kids (so I’m not distracted)” That sounded bad. I didn’t mean the kids would distract me from FB. I didn’t want the FB to distract me from the kids. I want to greet them with my full attention. I used to do FB 1st thing BEFORE prayers/reading and I DIDN’T greet the kids. BAD idea.

    Your post has had me thinking all morning though about all of the bad sides of FB. I’m not complaining. I’m glad someone could shake me. Now to make a battle plan for how to keep the good and eliminate the bad. Quick sand..that’s a good one!

  50. Stacy

    Signed up to keep eye on under 18yodc pages. Suddenly bombarded with “friend” requests from folks with whom I went to high school that didn’t even speak to me in high school! Have read plenty of nasty and snarky comments. Some folks fb their entire days, every day, and I wonder how they accomplish anything. I only check in with it once a week or so, and almost never post anything-probably once every three or four months I will “share” something I find moving. Definitely has changed my perception of some others. Some folks *only* communicate via facebook, which is my ONLY dilemma in signing off of it. However, IF I could go back and never sign up, I would!

  51. Carolyn @ 4Life4Life

    So I have been el loyal Facebooker from Facebook’s earliest days when it was only for college students to use. There was no such thing (in Facebook world circa 2006) as a wall which posted everyone’s every status update. You had to actually visit the person’s page to know what he or she was up to.
    Today’s Facebook is the Lazy Man/Woman’s Facebook– which I’m not really complaining about.
    But you can see what everyone is talking about without visiting anyone’s page, reading their profile or getting to know them further.
    And frankly, to me it has turned into more of a share/spam-without-the-spam fest.
    You know when snail mail made its way around claiming “If you don’t send this to your friends…” Or “RESEND IF YOU LOVE JESUS, DELETE IF YOU DON’T”
    To me, Facebook has become a place of advertisement, argument, posting pictures of the 100 gifts from Santa, and belligerently blasphemous bad grammar and typos.
    All that said, 7 years later, I remain connected to FB.
    I have tailored my newsfeed to avoid individuals who post junk… and I have significantly reduced the amount of time I spend there. I now use it mostly for connecting with the Catholic Sorority sisters and prayer requests.

    I completely agree with your point “Helps me cut down on mental clutter” –it’s not even like Pinterest, where you’ll spend an hour marveling over the ways to repurpose an old window shutter, at least you walk away with inspiration. Facebook is like “Where did my life just go?”

    I think what you’re doing is probably what I should be doing. A page for your blog updates and others to follow, while making yourself available on a more personal level with email, or even Twitter.

  52. Stacy

    Um, just wanted to make clear, that I *would* go back in time to *NOT* sign up again. Totally clear as mud? ;o)

  53. Cathy

    I, too, have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t think about dropping my account. Now that I have one, I find it very hard to give it up. I have given it up for Lent a couple of times, and by Easter find I don’t even miss it, yet a couple of months later, I’m back to checking it daily. So, to answer the question, if I could go back I would probably not have signed up. And now your list makes me ponder anew about dropping it.

    • Caroline M.

      Why not quit? Our pride doesn’t want to know this, but life will keep going, the world will keep turning. Just warn people before you do so and ask for people’s emails if they want to still keep in touch.

  54. Marie

    I am on Facebook, and it serves many purposes well, but it can also be a huge drain of my time and mental/emotional energy. At this point I don’t see leaving as the best solution, as it is the primary way I share pictures of my children and other family news/stories with relatives across the country. I used to have a photo site for that, but it was one more place for them to go check instead of it showing up right on their Facebook feed, which they were already checking every day. Sometimes I do think about deleting everyone that is not family and only using it for that purpose, but I also receive so many invitations to events through Facebook and not through email. Diocesan NFP Group – Facebook Event. Parish Blood Drive – Facebook Event. Even social gatherings and parties have gone to Facebook Events instead of evite, email, or -gasp- a paper invitation in the mail!

    I have worked hard to limit my news feed to people I currently KNOW and LIKE. We may be “friends” on Facebook, but if I don’t currently keep in touch with you outside of Facebook, or if I don’t particularly like you or what you have to say, I hide you. It saves me from elevated blood pressure every time your name pops up in my feed. I also follow some blogs/websites through my feed, which works out well now that Google Reader has closed and I haven’t signed up for any of the other readers.

    If I could go back, no, I would not join FB, but I’ve had it for ten years now (back when only four year colleges could have accounts) and it would definitely change how I correspond with people. I would have a nagging feeling that I was missing out on events I might want to attend and things like pregnancy announcements from people who I currently see a few times a year but we might not think to call each other on the phone just to share the news. Still, if you haven’t been sucked in yet, I say don’t do it!

  55. Tia S.

    I’m glad I have one but wish I could delete mine now. It’s proven quite useful for getting in touch with out-of-town friends or even finding a job, but at this point it’s just a time suck where I learn WAAAY too much about people I knew only glancingly in high school. And it gives me an excuse not to call my dear friends, because I feel like I ‘know’ what’s going on in their lives, even though pictures and status updates only tell half the story. plus, privacy.

  56. Jenn

    I quit Facebook two years ago and have not looked back. For me it came down to how I was spending my time. I found that I was way to interested in what was going on in everybody else’s lives. I also really disliked that I knew WAY too much about some people (your #1). Really, some things are just not to be posted on Facebook. I have been on a quest to simplify my life, and that was one of the first things I cut out. I am the only one of my friends that is not on it. People are shocked that I quit Facebook, but a good many say that they need to quit but can’t. I do miss out on events from time to time because our church uses Facebook groups to send out reminders and invitations to events/fellowships. I also am the last to hear about who had their baby or if someone is really sick. Fortunately, I have some close friends who remember I am no longer “in the know” and text me when something is going on.

  57. Amanda

    I am also a facebook hold out 🙂 I did recently get an account just so I could check on the local homeschooling group (small city….there are like 2 groups and one is exclusively on facebook, ugh!). Anyway, I don’t go on there at all except to look for homeschool events twice so far in 4 months. It’s not my thing. I don’t want to keep in touch with people I happened to go to school with in 8th grade. If I were friends with them I’d have their email address or phone number so why use Facebook? And the lack of privacy is seriously annoying. The one time I did spend an evening browsing friends’ statuses I got embroiled in an abortion debate when a friend of my soon-to-be brother-in-law made some snarky comment on a simple joking post. That was dumb of me and, much like hitting my head against a brick wall, left me with a headache and nothing else to show for it.

    So yeah, I don’t recommend facebook at all. If I could convince the homeschool co-ops to not use it I’d happily delete my account for good. In the meantime I’m happy to avoid it.

  58. Catholic Bibliophagist

    I only have a Facebook account because that’s the medium through which my son and his wife share pictures of the grandkids with their extended families. They are also in the habit of posting cute or humorous anecdotes about their family which helps me feel more connected with their day to day life than I might otherwise since they live on the other side of the country.

    I accept friend requests from extended family members, old friends, and their offspring. But sometimes I find out more than I want to know about their political positions, so I don’t hesitate to use the “Ignore” button. Especially when the smugness or snarkiness level soars. People on Facebook tend to assume that everyone on they’ve “friended” agrees with their political position or philosophical assumptions so there is very little discourse — just smug gloating with the choir.

    My advice is not to get a Facebook account. I never would have except for the grandkid photos.

  59. Caroline M.

    Just don’t. I quit a few months ago because I couldn’t handle the drama anymore. It’s like a constant com-box, only this time with your friends and family members. The 2011 election season was so much worse than the typical election season, with otherwise reasonable people posting the most bizarre things and biting each others’ heads off (not to mention “un-friending” people because of their politics. I just cannot wrap my head around that.)I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing is a warped social experiment to see how close to Lord of the Flies we can get.

  60. Tammy

    I gave up FB for lent last year and that led me to giving it up altogether. It’s been a very, very good thing for me both time wise and especially spiritually. I feel you get WAY too much information about people and for me personally, I can love them more knowing less.

  61. karen c

    Hi! Just my two cents: I have had a FB account for awhile but in the past six months, I deleted the app from my phone and iPad. At the beginning I almost felt obligated to update my posts regularly even though I didn’t feel I had anything interesting to report and refused to post the mundane details of my life. Then I was just reading everyone else’s updates but not taking the time to respond because what is a worthy response to “just poured my milk for my cereal this morning”? Then I just felt like a stalker always reading everyone’s stuff. My daughter wanted an account at 14 so we let her (after signing a contract) and I thought maybe I would use it more to check on her, but she is a trustworthy kid and I haven’t even felt the need to. Most of my friends know now that I’m not interested and I talk to or text with the true friends anyway. I have been almost relieved not having it weighing on my list of things to do. Good luck with your decision!

  62. Tammy

    Oh, another thing. You are tracked through FB. Even with your privacy settings as high as they go, you will still be advertised to by whatever else you are doing online outside FB. I find that disturbing. Closing out your account is very difficult too. I only recently discovered elsewhere online how to close it completely. Otherwise, they hold it for you with everything you ever did still there, just waiting for you to sign back in. Creepy.

    • Caroline M.

      Isn’t that the truth? And the whole pop up when you try to quit where it lists a bunch of FB friends and says “Billy Bob will miss you”? Um, actually I happen to know him in real life, and last time I checked I do have a life outside of FB. So creepy.

  63. Julie

    No, not now, not ever I hope. My sis has one and she keeps me updated on the daily life of our extended family. But it’s as you said – the mental clutter is just too, too much for me. PARTICULARLY during the election season – my gosh I would have lost my mind. It’s just all so much noise.
    The funny thing is, people are appalled that I don’t do FB, as if I don’t do oxygen or something.

  64. JeanG

    Yes, I would, but only because I’m not a public person like you are. It HAS been addictive, and I’ve worked at beating it back into its cage. It mostly remains there now. Some “motherly” advice follows (remember I’m retirement age). I urge you not to give birth to a personal page. Between your temperament and the infinitely more important demands on your time already in place, I believe you would ultimately disable it out of sheer necessity. Why not eliminate that messy middle part and never start it in the first place? You are already a public persona, and the book’s publication will only increase your internet presence. Friends from the past can find you if they want to. One more factor that I consider important, and believe you would as well, is that Facebook itself decides which postings from “Friends” make it to our individual newsfeeds. This means someone could write that they’re about to (fill in the blank) and you might not even see it. FB’s excuse for this protocol is that no one could tolerate seeing everything from everyone. They’re right of course, but do you want FB’s computer filtering communiques from people who might believe you would see what they’ve written? Suggestion: Because the Jennifer Fulwiler brand is growing, someone (not me) should start a Fan page. Perhaps a team could agree to monitor it–that’s the big job. Then YOU can check in and look at without the requirement to do anything. Please seriously consider what I’m saying. I think a personal FB page for you would be a train wreck.

  65. MaryV

    I would absolutely never have a Facebook account if I could go back. I started an account to responsibly track my children’s accounts, but I find that I view many more people in a negative light because of their comments and posts. Since my most important mission in life is to love as Jesus taught us, I now avoid Facebook unless one of my children specifically asks me to view something so that I can rely of face-to-face interactions for my friendship.

  66. Monica

    I had an account, but deleted it. The more I was on FB, the more I disliked people who I would otherwise have kept fond memories of. The more I disliked my current friends as well. If I care about someone, I’ll stay in contact with them the old fashioned way- by email.

    If I were running a business, I might consider having a business page on FB, but I’m not.

  67. Tia S.

    Another suggestion: get one of those internet blocking softwares. I think I use Freedom but you can also use StayFocusd for Chrome. Basically, you can set how much time you want to be on a website on any given day. I set myself a limit of 3 minutes on Facebook during the week and then leave the controls off for the weekend. That allows me to keep it more in a reasonable perspective. When I have writers block, it’s soooooo tempting to just see what’s up on Facebook even if no news is likely to be posted, and this keeps me from doing that.

  68. Nancy Larrick

    If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t join FB because of the lack of privacy and because once you join, you can’t delete your account – only disable it. Your information is there forever for FB to use however they want.

  69. JaninVA

    I reluctantly got on FB about 6 years ago, when our parish mother’s group switched over, thinking it would be wonderful. Then people from the past would show up or neighbors and persons who share different values, etc. I used to post mostly religious things–a lot of prolife info and articles from Lifesitenews and Operation Rescue. I hardly ever check it now. I really hate it and keep thinking I will delete it. I no longer post photos of my family and I almost never leave comments on other pages. I am melancholic and introverted and much prefer email and blog reading to perusing FB. I do like to receive messages posted on the main parish page, though, and to know how long-time but out of touch friends’ ellderly parents are doing. My 17 yr old son uses it infrequently and my 14 yr old daughter uses Kik or Instagram. All this blah, blah to say I wouldn’t recommend it. It, like anything else, can become an occasion of sin and I am bad enough with time and household management! Plus, I talk to my younger ones about too much Minecraft time but I am in front of a screen, too. :(. Good luck with your decision!

  70. Kris, in New England

    I have a FB account and while I agree about the addiction, the potential for knowing more about people than you wanted – it has been a godsend to me in many ways.

    Chiefly – a dear friend of mine died in a strike fighter accident last year. He had a blog that was read by thousands of people all over the world and the “core group” of readers were devastated by his death and worried about how we’d keep up with each other – we had all become close over the 10 years we had read the blog and commented together; truly a bunch of 21st century friendships. So we set up a private FB page in honor of our friend; you can only join the page if you are invited by a current member. We keep membership tight, ban people who don’t follow the simple tenets of our friend’s original blog. We have all grown so much closer in our collective grief and now have so many deep friendships that we all meet all over the country for gatherings and get-togethers. Were it not for FB I would not have been able to keep in touch with some of the most amazing people I’ll ever know. In fact, there is a gathering taking place in my state (CT) in late October and people are flying in from all over the country to attend. Our group and our friendships mean THAT much to us.

    FB has also allowed me to keep up with friends that I might have lost touch with otherwise. And while I see your point about the level of that friendship – I do enjoy reading about their lives and sharing our common interests.

  71. Steph

    Such an interesting discussion (both the post and the comments).

    I’ve never been on FB. I joined Twitter just a while ago. I read somewhere that FB is where you are friends with everyone you went to high school with and Twitter is where you are friends with everyone you WISH you went to high school with. I love that, which is why I love Twitter. It’s public. It’s concise. It’s people I don’t even know in real life (mostly). Sure you can favorite and retweet, but that’s not as common as “liking” or “commenting” on FB so you don’t have this pressure to always respond to people’s posts. I know I don’t need to sell you, Jen, on Twitter. But I am amazed at how much I’ve grown to love it in such a short period of time.

    The one thing I worry about is that when I have children that if I’m not on FB I won’t be able to see or know when people post pictures of my kids. I plan to have a very small digital footprint for my future little ones, and that makes me nervous that I wouldn’t know what’s going on. But maybe I can just enlist my dad to be the guardian of keeping his grandkids’ pics off of Facebook? 🙂

  72. Jane

    We have Facebook solely for pictures and videos of grandchildren who live far away from us. I keep up with old friends, too. Other than that, we would stop our FB account.

  73. Denise

    I am content with my Facebook account, but I have a special situation. We live about 2500 miles away from my mom. Emails and phone calls and Skype are critical to staying in touch, yes, but I also want to share pictures and videos of our family. Doing this via FB has the advantage of collecting all my communications/posts into one place, providing space for conversations over specific events/items, and having a nice historical record. I am friends with only my husband and my mom, and it has become sort of an electronic photo/film album. If I want to see what is happening with friends or family, I go to my husband’s account. THAT, I will admit, can become addictive – I’ve had to strengthen my resolve many times to not check every day. But the best advantage of using my husband’s account and not having one of my own is that noone seems to care if a guy doesn’t post very often, or “like” or respond to every single post. And noone seems to expect that I’ve seen such-and-such on FB. And, I haven’t personally entered the FB “look at me!” rat race, because my mom really does want to see every little thing that I find time to post!

    All that said, I think your concerns are entirely valid. But so are the advantages. I hope you find the answer that is best for you!

  74. Marianne

    I also have a love/hate relationship with fb.

    I love how easy it is to keep up with the daily happenings in the lives of extended family who live in other states and countries. I keep my “friends” list to only friends and family. It helps me to stay connected to colleagues thru a private group and that is very helpful. The biggest plus for me, though, has been reconnecting with a high school friend from 40 years ago. Last year we married. 🙂

    The downside is the loss of privacy. Too much information exists on the internet when a person is active online on sites like fb.

  75. Rita

    Don’t do it. Sucks the time and energy right out of you. I do have an account, and used to be hooked on checking it- it was on my phone and computer bookmarked- far too easy. Who cares what an acquaintance of mine from 10 years ago is doing at this moment?? Honestly, it distracts and can lead to some negative thinking. I’ve since taken it off my phone and resolved to only check for messages once a week. Be strong! 🙂

  76. Colleen Martin

    I was on it for a little while and got off after I saw how much of my time I was wasting on snooping and gossiping. I know these are my vices, and not everyone on FB is tempted the same way, but for me it was not a healthy habit to have.

    Also, my husband has never joined and he firmly believes that friendships/people are meant to come and go into and out of our lives naturally, and that FB creates this strange world where we feel the need to be connected to an old friend of a friend we met once in high school.

    • Jessica

      Really interesting thoughts. I have always been a “friends come and go” type of person, and more recently I’ve started to feel guilty about it because maybe I’m overly detached. This may still be the case, but now I wonder if part of that guilt is because of our society where we are pressured to maintain contact with everyone we’ve ever come across.

  77. Claire

    I love me some Facebook. I do have to limit myself a little, but truthfully it is only one of many potential internet time sucks that I have to be wary of. If I wasn’t on FB, I’d find other ways to waste time online, so for me it is fairly neutral in and of itself. I do love being able to keep up with friends, and I am part of several closed/secret groups on FB that allow me to keep up with friends from certain areas of my life in a more personal way. As an at-home, homeschooling mom, FB is often my main adult interaction during the day. My homeschooling friends call it our “teacher’s lounge.” These days I don’t post a lot, and I have hidden a lot of people from my newsfeed (the ones that posted things that always got me riled up, for instance), so I can check up on them if I want to, but I don’t have to be bombarded by their attempts to sell their latest multi-level marketing product or rants about politics. But I think I’ve made FB work well for me – it just isn’t that big of a deal in my life now. I enjoy it, and leave it at that.

  78. Cristina

    I’ve had a facebook page since the beginning when it was only open to those of us with working college e-mail addresses and the point of it seemed to be a real online face book. I really don’t like what it’s become and I don’t often post anything. I think you are exactly right and that I tend to have worse impressions of my ‘friends’ after reading the things they post than I would otherwise. I’ve been trying to stay away from reading my feed for that exact reason.

    It’s difficult to not go on at all these days though. We move around a lot and I’ve found that a huge number of people will ONLY communicate with you through facebook–especially in the military. There are groups for every different type of spouse club, moms club, and updates on what’s happening on the base in general. If you don’t sign up you won’t know what’s happening and basically you will be a friendless loser who is playing at the park by herself and never knows where all the other moms are 🙂 So I keep my account but I try to just look at and respond to my messages and check the pages I have to for information that I actually need.

    (On the side of not being on facebook at all though–my husband is a lawyer and it seems like the first thing the lawyers do these days when they are prosecuting someone is to check and see if that someone has a facebook page and if so, if they can find anything incriminating on it. Creepy. And also probably the reason my husband’s page is blank and has a picture across the top that he made me create for him that tells all his potential ‘friends’ to please just call or email him since he will not get or respond to any kind of facebook communication)

  79. Erin

    I have a love/hate relationship with it. Like you’ve said, modern parenthood is much more isolated than before. As much as I hate the time-sucking nature of it, I’m glad I’m on FB. We move so much in the military and I have enough difficulty making friends, so I need to network with them and potential others (“You’re moving to XXX? My friend form 2 duty stations ago just got there, you would soooo get along!” Boom- got a new friend waiting for me). I can’t ever regret not joining because I’ve reconnected with people who have made amazing differences in my life, some that made that difference BECAUSE I found them on FB.
    But I do have to unplug from it every once in a while to detox, I do block friends who I need to stay in touch with but hate all the things they post (and not all politics, some people are just mean and ugly), and I can’t let myself be tied to old friends there that I don’t get out and meet people in a new city. I keep my friend list relatively short- about 100- and a big chunk of them are family who we live far away from.

  80. syd

    Yes. If I could go back and not sign up, I would. I have deleted my account once, and I signed back up again after the 2 week waiting period. When someone died and I had to inform my family who wouldn’t answer 4 phones and did not set up voicemail, I had to go back to Facebook.

    Unfortunately, it’s the only way my own siblings will communicate with me.

    I hate it. I hate that’s it’s so not private and they are always changing the rules. Did I mention I HATE IT?

    I don’t find it terribly addicting or anything. I use it for a very small circle of family I want to communicate with. I have culled my list to under 30 people who are 98% family and 2% true friends. Again, I find myself keeping it because family refuse to communicate any other way.

  81. Julie

    I had a Facebook acct for awhile and the main reason I canceled it was because of #2. Not to mention skeletons.

  82. Arwen

    I’ve had a Facebook account for most of a decade, and have never once considered deleting my account. But on the other hand, if Facebook suddenly shut down for some reason, I don’t feel it would be a huge loss in my life.

    I find it fascinating that almost everyone seems to have such strong feelings about FB because for me, it’s really not a big deal. I use it to post pictures of my children (mostly so my grandma and old family friends can see them) and occasionally post observations about life and read others’ status updates, but for the most part FB doesn’t play a big role in my life. I check it maybe once every other day, I think.

    I will note that I’ve pared down my feed immensely – whenever someone posts something that tempts me to think uncharitable thoughts, I hide them from my feed. I figure it’s better for both of us that way. 🙂

    But honestly, FB can be very useful for organizing social gatherings. And it can help people make connections. There’s one girl I barely knew in high school who now reads my blog and leaves really kind comments, and we’ve had some good conversations about our shared experiences as mothers of young children. I’m grateful to Facebook for giving me things like that!

    Bottom line, though, I think Facebook is just like any other activity or medium: you have to assess the role it plays in your life and whether it’s making life better or worse. And if it’s worse, you figure out how to fix that or you back away. There’s no activity that’s right for everyone!

  83. Sydney

    It makes me sad that so many people hate/regret Facebook! I love Facebook (although my husband hates it). I don’t talk politics and I don’t get in arguments on Facebook. I have never had any major Facebook drama. I CHOOSE not to. I believe there have been times in the past when I felt burdened by my own “addiction” to checking my feed for updates, but that phase has passed, and it was much more an annoyance with myself for being so narcissistic than any type of issue with Facebook. I use the privacy settings as much as possible, and loved Kelly’s blog post (which Grace Patton recommended). I hide people from my feed if they habitually post annoying (to me) things, and periodically remove people from my friends list if we just don’t keep in touch anymore. I am also picky about what friend requests I accept.

    I don’t want to get rid of my Facebook account and I don’t regret setting it up and if I could do it all over again, I absolutely would! I love using private groups to talk about my pregnancy with close friends and family (so much easier than tracking down everyone’s –out of date??!– email addresses, and more interactive, too!), and then I don’t have to rub it in the face of my friends struggling with infertility that GUESS WHAT ANOTHER FRIEND IS HAVING A BABY! I have moved A LOT in my life, and I love being able to keep up with friends in other states and other countries. I love that I can make a connection with a friend during the middle of a workday.

    I think the shining moment of Facebook use in my life was the group we set up when my nephew was born prematurely with RH disease and was close to death. We had a huge network of people praying for him and sharing encouragement with my sister and her husband. It also drastically reduced the stress on my sister and her husband (introvert and MAJOR introvert) to give updates — they could write one and update hundreds of caring social groups and family members and even supportive acquaintances.

    It boils down to how you choose to use or abuse it, as well as how you use/abuse your emotions about it. Those are my 2 cents, and you can keep the change! 😉

  84. Becky

    I’ve been back and forth on the FB thing myself. I do like it as far as keeping in touch; I don’t like it because as so many people have said, it can be addicting. I think if you’re disciplined enough, then it’s harmless. I have finally gotten to the point where I have a mental rule with myself: the morning hours are devoted to work, housework, the kids. The nap time hour(s) I use for FB and email and prayer. (Not necessarily in that order.) In the afternoon, the time is again devoted to the kids–while supper is cooking on the stove I might get have short 5 min break to go on FB if I’m getting the “craving.” Once I get the kids in bed, that time is usually for myself and my husband so I do FB for a short time if I want. If i stick to those rules, then i can usually live a life of FB without it taking over my life.

    Oh yeah–I don’t have internet on my phone, so that makes the temptation way easier!

  85. Lisa V.

    I love this question by the way. I was struck by it and it gave me great pause, and honestly I was surprised my thought was “hey, wait a minute…. I probably wouldn’t sign up with Facebook if I could go back”. My younger sister by 10 years got me set up as if it was a tragedy and that I wasn’t “with it” because I didn’t have a clue about it. However that’s not to say I wouldn’t have eventually discovered it on my own and signed up as well. I am have second thoughts about being part of it especially after reading your post. All of your points are spot on. I did find your suggestion that rarely if ever does someone’s appearance improve by being on facebook quite enlightening. I think a lot (shyly I admit too) of folks are under the impression it DOES make you appear interesting. More and more I’m thinking about it and probably being way too philosophical is FB is probably more self serving than anything else. I tread carefully but boldly suggest that Facebook might even be kind of destructive to relationships. There is a voice though in my head saying it would be “crazy” to drop off of facebook which in of itself makes me uncomfortable that I feel so dependent on it. Maybe a 6 month FB fast is in order…….

  86. Suzette

    Don’t have one and I don’t think that I will. I especially agree with the stress of acutely analyzing comments and the positive vs negative impressions. I hope you stay off! I have had 10+ more people encourage me to never get one, despite the fact that a group has been made to get me on Facebook…strange!

  87. Sarah

    I have a Facebook account and don’t mind it. I check it a few times a day, a few minutes at a time. I may update my status a few times a month, and it’s usually bland.

    My work environment is very isolating (I only interact with a handful of people every day), and I am not good about keeping up with people, so I enjoy seeing who has had a baby and who is getting married and (once in a blue moon) who is a jerk that I’m going to defriend. I also like being able to share pictures with my family in a centralized way, although the face identification technology makes me feel a little weird about it now.

    That said, I don’t know that I would sign up for an account now if I didn’t already have one. It’s easy to overshare or look like a jerk, and what you post is out on “teh Internetz” forever.

  88. MB

    Interesting, because I jusrt deleted mine last night. yes, I have reconnected with cousins, old friends, etc.-and I was definitely using it as a news feed (maybe I’ll go back in and just make a new account with only “pages” I want to have in a newsfeed.

    I think you already have your answer, from the items you have listed. Don’t do it. It’s easier not to start, then it is to stop. As long as you have the blog, and young kids….no facebook.

  89. Marisa@Mia Cucina, Mia Famiglia, Mia Vita

    I’m glad I have a Facebook account, and if I could go back in time I would still set one up. We’re a military family, and we move approximately every 2-3 years. That means lots of friends and co-workers all over the world, not to mention our very spread out family. 90% of my family and close friends are on Facebook, and honestly it’s the easiest way for me to keep in touch with everyone. It’s easier to post a quick status update, or new pictures of our kids, than it is to send out a mass email to everyone on my contact list, and have to email everyone back individually. There are definitely some disadvantages to Facebook (any of the following topics can be a major time suckage and create a personal hell for you if you’re invested in the discussion: politics, religion, vaccines, etc). So yeah. Downsides? Absolutely. Worth it in the end? Without a doubt.

  90. Josee

    I freed my self of Facebook two years ago, and I have never regretted it.Anyone I want to get in touch with I can. It did not add anything to my life and drained me of peace. I can see where it might be valuable, but it is not for me.

  91. Ally

    I had an account in college and then my now husband and I both deleted our accounts when we got engaged, it just seemed like the right thing to do to begin our new chapter of life together. I’m so glad I did. Of course I started a twitter account a few years ago and I have pinterest and blogs are enough to keep me distracted. THere are many reasons why I wouldn’t want one again, but one reason that comes up a lot is that I have to find out information about acquaintance and even friends from people, often from the source. And people can really only find out information about me from me. I like it this way, because there isn’t any awkwardness, like someone assuming I saw what they posted on facebook or a “fake” sense of knowing each other without investing in each others lives. If there are interesting articles or cool things posted on facebook, a friend will eventually tell me about it or send it to me via email, if they feel it is really worth my time.

  92. MemeGRL

    I love Facebook and wouldn’t change a thing. I have gotten closer to many people, learned topics to avoid (or ask about) from others…of course my friends are generally well-behaved compared to some things I have seen. It is mental clutter in some ways but useful in others. I think Twitter serves the function for you that Facebook does for me.

  93. Martha

    I thought it was ‘curt’. Is it ‘Kurt?’

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      It’s “curt.” I was very tired when I wrote the post. 🙂

  94. Theresa

    I’ve done it both ways: Had an account. Deleted said account. Renewed my account again. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Facebook. There is something wrong with “us.” We are sinners. If I feel like Facebook is starting to control me or I start judging others I hide his/her profile, try to pray for them and for me, and I take a break from checking Facebook. I will fast from it during Advent and Lent just to make sure I am free. Yes, it can be addictive. Yes, you can see people’s faults. But you know what? You can see their virtues too. I’ve found it hugely encouraging to see other moms struggling raising small children. One of my friends is having her second set of twins. #s 7 and 8. It is hard and exhausting and intense and inspiring all at the same time. There is always someone suffering more than you. I’ve found myself posting less and praying more these days. Facebook is whatever you make of it. You run it. You don’t let it run you.

  95. Gina

    It’s funny — I’ve had a sort of inverted experience of #1. It used to be that everyone at church thought I was super-quiet, and probably a little dull. Now they’re always coming up to me and saying, “I LOVE your Facebook posts! They’re so much fun!” It’s like I have a new way to communicate with the people around me. 🙂 I realize Facebook, and the Web in general, have their down side, but they do help a lot of us introverts have more of a life. (That’s probably why there are so many introvert-related posts all over the place. It’s like we’ve suddenly discovered our tribe. 🙂

    I love getting in touch with old friends and old teachers, too — though I confess that sometimes someone friends me and then later I forget who they are, and think “Who is that person and why are we FB friends?” Sad, I know, but I think it says more about my scatterbrain than the medium itself!

    I’ll admit, though, that sometimes FB can exacerbate — or even create — toxic situations. And it can be very distracting and time-consuming. So there’s good and there’s bad.

  96. Catherine

    There is one KEY item that people who are younger that me seem to always miss, or never think of, in relation to Facebook. And that is, I CHOOSE when to look at it, whom to connect with, and what to post.

    Having been alive and managing just fine for 45 years without a phone attached to my hip or head, and never having had access to the internet until that age; the whole concept of “staying connected” is, to me, entirely foreign. I see it as something that should only ENHANCE my life; and if it doesn’t, or if an aspect of it (a person, post, whatever) doesn’t, then I ignore it. People today think that it MATTERS whether someone knows you read their message! My response to that is: get a life! A REAL, in-person, life! Most of the stuff that people who are on Facebook THINK MATTERS, does not at all. Not one iota!

    Yes, I have a facebook account. Yes, I would do it again. I have it partly because I own a small business; and for that, it is a nice feature in my life. I can see what others in my field are doing, and if I like one particular person’s creative work, then I can more easily keep up with that, WHEN AND IF I WANT TO. The notion of having an “obligation” to do anything at all on Facebook is ridiculous to me. I do have the nice habit of communicating with my mentor, briefly, when I see his new work on FB. This can lead to some very productive discussions by phone! I also can see, IF I WISH, what a friend is doing. I have sent condolences or supportive little notes or appreciation posts, etc., to people who are ACTUAL FRIENDS of mine.

    Facebook has its advantages. If you remember that you are not joined at the hip to ANYONE at all; that your responsibility is to live your life in REAL TIME, and if you never answer ‘pokes’ or requests to play time-wasting games and so on, Facebook can be a nice PLUS in you life.

    My $0.05, for what it’s worth. LOL!

  97. Stephanie

    I am glad I have a Facebook account. It has caused additional drama, no doubt, but I also find that for the most part, I just feel more connected with acquaintances (both present and past) and that helps create a sense of community to me.

    Two thoughts though:

    1. The key to making Facebook a positive experience is to FILTER. Filter filter filter. You can hide people and they don’t know it, and this is KEY to maintaining positive relationships. There have been many many (MANY) people who I’ve recognized had the tendency to draw out negative emotions in me for a number of reasons, and I have hidden them to protect any sort of future relationship with them. It works very well.

    2. If you are active on Twitter, I’m not so sure our lives are that different. I have a Twitter account I use the exact same way you use Facebook. To me, the time I can devote to social media has to be limited, and I’ve chosen Facebook over Twitter. But I sense that there’s this whole world I’m missing by not being more engaged on Twitter.

  98. Amy

    No, I wouldn’t.

    I have conflicting feelings about FB. I don’t love it because it sometimes stirs up drama and conflict. I don’t love it because I do sometimes see mot-so-nice things from people that I would rather not have seen. I don’t love it because it can be a huge time suck if I let it.

    But, I do love it for many more reasons. I do love it because it has helped me to get back in touch with two old dear friends whom I had lost touch with for many many years. One of them just accepted my friend request this morning after I sent it last night (I finally figured out how to find her in spite of the 60,000 other people on FB with her name). I know you mentioned that if someone wanted to contact you (or you them) a phone call, email, or text would be more normal, but in my case these are people I lost touch with before email, I didn’t have their phone numbers, or even current addresses for them. So FB was a great blessing in helping me reconnect.

    Plus, I have seen some really wonderful things about and from people that I wouldn’t have known about if not for FB. This happens for me more frequently than seeing ugly things from people.

    Finally, FB helps me to stay in touch with extended family that live all over the country.

    Though I don’t love everything about it, I’d rather have it than not 🙂

  99. Lisa

    I was just thinking about my FB account yesterday. The reasons I do not cancel it are that it’s a great way to share photos with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Everyone can comment on them and see all to the comments. I also like it for networking. And I am in one playgroup that communicates via a private Facebook page. So, what I decided yesterday is that instead of canceling, I am going to just have one family photo posted for friends, and then change my settings so only my family or close but physically distant friends can see any other photos. I also have my page set up so that I do not see updates from people I’m not interested in. That way, I can still be their friends but I don’t have to read their updates. One other tip is that I always have my chat function off so people can’t see when I am on Facebook. I also do not allow people to tag me in posts or photos without permission. I have found it to be a good format thought for evangelization. I will occasionally post an article, especially about abortion, that people have told them makes them think. I try to only do this occasionally though because if you do this too often, people tune you out or block your updates.

  100. elizabethe

    I don’t have facebook, I have done facebook, my husband does facebook, my best friend does facebook.

    Here’s the truth, facebook is a vehicle for advertising and purchasing the internet commodity of “friendship” which exists only on facebook. Your internet friendship/persona is a commodity and not an interpersonal interaction because it is exactly the same for every single person who friends you. This is what it is. This is not a judgement, it’s not good or bad, it’s the truth about what it is.

    When you go on facebook — you commodify your friendship/social interaction.

    When I say that a facebook presence is the “commodification of your friendship” I don’t mean you are selling your friendship, but rather I am pointing to the interchangebility of the parts in a commodified system. I am saying you become the exact same friend to every person who interacts with you on facebook.

    There is nothing inherently unique and personal about the facebook friend because one person’s experience of being your friend on facebook is the exact same experience that every other person has of being your friend. You can’t be facebook friends with your shy quiet movie loving friend in one way, and facebook friends with your mini-golf partner friends in a different way, the way you would in real life. You are the same exact “friend” to all the people. You can tier this in certain ways to have more public and more private lists, but you can’t make each individual person’s experience of you different.

    I’m saying this in a strong way on purpose, there is probably more nuance to the whole thing, but you should be very clear about this aspect before you start to use it. People who have tamed the facebook beast and made it work for them (kudos to you!) have understood what it is and use it accordingly, either by restricting which parts of themselves they will commodify (they don’t post about politics, or they don’t post about their kids or whatever) or using it only as a tool to “buy” only news or only certain kinds of people and not using it in certain ways or they use to interact with only businesses.

    The danger here is that it gives you the illusion of interaction. It may seem to you that you are interacting with people when you read their posts or click “like” or leave a comment or whatever, but that is not an actual personal interaction with a person that you have a unique friendship relationship with (even if it is with someone you do know in real life, the facebook interaction is not interacting with them).

    If, when you are lonely, it will seem easier to you to just check up with your friends on facebook instead of making a phone call or sending out a personal email, or heaven forfend! meeting them, then you might, then you might stop making the very difficult effort of contacting people in a real way.

  101. Eva

    I think that what people need to keep in mind is that THEY control their facebook. I have 80 friends, all people that I want to be connected too. I’m terrible at keeping in tough so it’s way to talk to the cousins, etc. I don’t friend people if I don’t want to, I block people if I don’t agree with them and I hide people if I don’t want to connect with them at all. I have a really interesting newsfeed that I live to check and if something causes me disquiet then I get rid of it.
    Facebook is not my way of expanding my horizons and participating tolerance and that’s ok. I do that I other areas. It’s my own little gated community 🙂

  102. Sue K

    I use it to keep up with my college-aged kids and their friends (and now many of them who have moved into adulthood. It’s a great was to stay in touch! I’m also part of a Catholic mommy chat/prayer/advice group that is just wonderful! I do use all the various control settings and I’m not shy about politely ignoring that friend request from the high school friend I really don’t remember anyway.

  103. Stacie G

    This is my inner dilema almost daily. I just recently joined the blogging world. I have never had a facebook page either and I am debating having one just for the site. I mull over this continually but haven’t made a move to do anything…I guess by not doing anything I have really made a decision haven’t I? Thank you for some additional insight on the matter.

  104. Tiffany O'Hara

    I really resonate with #8. It takes me a good 5 min to write a single sentence comment, or post etc. just to make sure that I’ve written it in a way that the person reading it won’t take it the wrong way, and it is stressful! If people don’t know you, your sense of humor, how you talk, it’s so easy to misunderstand your “typing”

    I signed up for FB when it was just for college students and it was a really great way to connect with people in your dorm, your major, your class, before even getting to college. It sort of eased my nerves…now, however, I feel like there is way too much going on. I’ve often considered deleting my facebook…but haven’t. If they haven’t added “Social Media Addiction” to the DSM V I’m pretty sure they should!

  105. Mrs. Amen

    I would never have gotten one if I had only known all the trouble it would cause and time it would waste. FB is an enormous time suck for me and something for which I have guilt constantly. I worry if I have post too much negativity, too much online exposure of my children violating their privacy, too much political stuff (not likely), too much religious stuff (possible), too many obnoxious comments on others’ status (goodness, I hope not!). I worry I am ignoring the life in front of me in favor of acquaintances online.

    On the other hand though, I have “met” some really great women who support me in NFP endeavors (and I hope I provide support to them as well), my homeschooling adventure, and my Catholic faith. I know none of these people IRL (in real life), but I am grateful for their prayers, advice and tips on the things going on in my increasingly boring and hectic life.

  106. Lynne

    I gave up fb a few months ago. It is the best thing I ever did. It’s difficult to say, but I was addicted: addicted to escape, addicted to the vanity of clever posts and “likes”, addicted to having *some* kind of social life. I tried cutting back but found that as long as I posted, I had to return to see what response had come. I first reduced my main temptation by removing myself from a (very wonderful) Catholic women’s group I was in. I have no real Catholic social group, and these women became my daily bread. (Ha–well, those words reveal the problem in a nutshell!) I loved the interaction with them; I *needed* it, so I told myself. But I found that I spent way too much time chatting with them, while the little people of my house were begging me to read books or go outside. How often will a child ask to be read to and be ignored before giving up? At some point I had to examine my priorities and realize that I don’t get this time back. I also had to realize that I was setting a terrible example for my older children regarding use of time and importance of family. So I quit the group. Then I deleted most of my friends, saving only family and a few high-school and college friends with whom I wanted to maintain a method of contact. Then, I logged off. I told my closer friends what I was doing so they wouldn’t wonder when I didn’t respond to messages. Now, I might check in once every few weeks, mainly to send a message when I don’t know how to contact through phone or email. I don’t allow myself to scroll through the posts–just sign on, do my business, sign off. I miss the social aspects, especially my Catholic “friends”. But I had to admit to myself that, for the most part, our friendships were very superficial. We could have laughs, share stories, pray for one another–but if I went missing, no one would come looking for me. Even if I was someone they cared about, the format of group chat isn’t such that missing persons are especially noticed. There were many fantastic Catholic women there, with much to offer, but I had to get back to the real world right under my nose, the people who *do* miss me when I’m gone off into virtual reality. Now, you’re my little Catholic lifeline. Could you add a CNS newsfeed to the sidebar? 😉

  107. Martha

    If I could do it again, yes, absolutely, I’d open a Facebook account. Without Facebook, I wouldn’t keep up well with any of my cousins. I wouldn’t hear from my nephew in the Navy. And I wouldn’t share funny little things that happen in the day with any of my friends. I can *maybe* make one phone call to a friend a day, and even then, while I am on the phone, someone is starting a fight or avoiding their schoolwork. But I can post something, read comments on it later, respond later. I don’t use FB for discussing many controversial subjects, so I don’t tend to obsess about “How will this be taken? Does it need a smiley face?” The people who read my posts all know my sense of humor, anyway. (I have tight privacy controls.) And I have hidden a few relatives who post political things daily. The ones who aren’t relatives, I tend to delete. Or they delete me. It’s not a place that is good for changing hearts and minds, I don’t think. But it’s a great place to laugh, and have friends laugh (or groan!) with me. Occasionally, I use it to blog more meaningful things I am thinking about. I would never keep up with a blog, but I think it serves the same purpose sometimes that a blog would. You’re missing out!! 😉

  108. Mitchell

    This post helped push me over the edge to turn off Facebook for a while. At least until my Masters thesis is finished. Facebook turns into a constant waste of time for me, time I don’t get back and that I don’t feel good about wasting after I have wasted it. For an introvert who is also shy like me Facebook lets me get away with having less of a social life and pretending like I do. Hopefully taking a break will encourage me to pick up the phone and call my friends or visit them more often.

    • Mitchell

      Oh and in reference to your original question. I signed up when I was assigned my college email address so I’ve been on the Facebook for a long time. If I went back in time I would not sign up. Despite its benefits, I would not resign up.

  109. colette

    I’ve been on Facebook for a long time, but never got active in it because I find it too disjointed. I never feel like I have had an actual conversation or that I’m really relating to them. For me there is nothing like sitting across from someone to get a sense of how they are actually doing.

  110. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    I have had Facebook since 2007 I think? I go through times where I contemplate deleting. And then, I realize I enjoy the family connections I have because of it.

    Last week, I tightened up my FB privacy settings. I went through my entire list of friends and marked the ones who were “Acquaintances” as such. Then I made it so any of my posts would only be visible to “Friends, Except Acquaintances”. This cleaned up my news feed as well. So acquaintances stuff doen’t populate in my news feed and I have to intentionally go to their timelines to see what they have posted. I really enjoy this so far, and I know that when I post, only people who are really my friends are seeing it (and probably the only people who care). If I post something I think would be fun to share with the wider audience, I can go out to it on my timeline and change just that post so that all my “Friends” can see it and that will include Acquaintances.

    I don’t get as invested in it as I did a couple years ago. I got really angry when the HHS Mandate stuff was going down and I posted lots of articles that helped fuel my fury. I learned, however, that was probably not the best way to “connect” with people, so I’ve modified my approach on that. I will have that conversation in person, but no longer do I allow myself to get sucked into a public facebook conversation on things that are really important to me. People talk to each other differently online than they do face-to-face.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading the comments here because it helped me solidify how I feel about Facebook. I won’t be deleting my account, but I am happy with the changes I have made recently and plan to continue those.

  111. Megan DeWitt

    Facebook is not inherently bad or a wast of time. It depends on how you use it. I used it to raise almost $5,000 to move my Mom closer to me when she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer that has metasticized. As you can see, her fundraising page has over 100 facebook shares:

    This would not have been possible just through email. I say get on – but be in control of your time on their and your news feed. You can “hide” people who post negative things and still be friends with them. You can also edit your privacy settings and only share certain things with your close family in one click.

  112. nicole

    I hide everyone unless they are a family member or someone I come into regular physical contact with. It has greatly reduced the amount of time I spend on FB. I personally like Twitter much better.

  113. Andrea

    I was on it for a year or so about five years ago, and even at that time when not everyone I knew was on it, I just found that it invaded my mental space. This summer I traveled for six weeks and had no internet or phone access. I memorized dozens of poems, read about ten great books, and spent the most lovely time with my husband and children that I could possibly imagine. I still enjoy this blog and two others but I will never, ever go back to constant blog reading or even checking my email every day. Oh and one of the books I read was The Shallows, so that pretty much confirmed me in feeling that broad horizons were opening for me in the future beyond my computer 🙂 Another was Quiet by Susan Cain–I can’t help but think that anyone who is a strong introvert will be happier in the long run keeping social media to a small minimum.

  114. Rachel

    I too have given the facebook debacle a lot of thought. I had an account in college and it helped me in some ways (at the time) because it provided me with a simple way of managing clubs and social activities. On the other hand, it also stressed me out that I could end up hurting someone because I did not respond with a witty two-liner in a timely manner when they posted on my page. As a person who struggles to return calls and emails, having an additional way of letting someone down was awful.

    But, in terms of why I still don’t have an account today, the stress is secondary. I found that having a facebook account exasperated my tendency to be nosey and look into other people’s life from the outside without making authentic relationships. I found that I would be looking at profiles, pictures, and news updates from people who would never call me to tell me such news, nor would they think of mailing me a picture of their most recent trip. So why am I looking at their account of it? In the end, it became very depressing to have so many superficial “friends”.

    So today I may still not have many true friends, but at least I do not have an account that makes me feel like I have 300. I guess I just prefer the truth over the illusion.

    Also, Facebook doesn’t really allow for a person to change over time; the account forces you to carry with you all of your past–the pictures, friends, relationships, acquaintances, and messages–from years prior which makes it hard for a person to move on and actually transform or just grow up.

    Just a few thoughts….But, like most things, Facebook is neither intrinsically good or bad; whether it hurts or helps you depends on you and how you use it. For me, its better to be off of it completely.

  115. Paul H

    I only see one item in your list that argues in favor of getting a Facebook account (#5 – networking), and I doubt that any networking on Facebook would have enough depth to be very worthwhile. Overall, your post seems to be a very strong argument for not having an account, so I’m a bit surprised to hear that you are somewhat on the fence.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t have an account, and I’m very glad that I don’t.

  116. Patty

    Jennifer, don’t do it. The biggest reason not to get on FB is that it is a COLOSSAL time-waster. Not only will you read the statuses of your FB friends, but you will start clicking through to read the statuses of people you don’t even know. You will read the most trite sayings and morality short stories that pass as profound insights. You will take an ordinary moment in your life that is otherwise unremarkable and raise it to a witticism in an effort to entertain your FB friends. In other words, you will spend hours of your life on superficiality and the worst part is, it’s addictive. Save your self…don’t do it.

  117. Kellie

    I wouldn’t do it again, largely for #1 on your list. Plus, Facebook’s data mining (if I’m using the right word) is the most obnoxiously aggressive ever, and their attitude towards their public is basically “We do what we want, when we want, how we want, and we *dare* you to try to leave if you don’t like it, ’cause we know you need us way too much for that.” As soon as I find time to start a public blog, I dream of using that as my way to communicate with the world, and joining my boyfriend in a Facebook-less life.

  118. Colleen

    No. I wouldn’t do it again. Run. Run like the wind. And don’t look back.

    Most first-tier friends are polite. But some are rather disrespectful of opinions different from their own. And friends of friends are downright nasty. To Catholics. About Catholics. Is this how my so-called friends talk about me when I’m not around? Because I never see any fraternal correction going on. I’m sure there are open-minded and “tolerant” liberals out there. They aren’t on Facebook, though.

    One of these days, I’m going to be pushed to the limits and post THAT on my stinkin’ wall.

  119. Laura

    I find Facebook pretty easy to control. I only see posts from select friends that I am interested in hearing from on my feed (this is an easy setting to manage), I control who can see my statuses, don’t use the chat function, and I regularly take breaks by deactivating for a weekend, week, or month at a time. No big deal. However, I will say that I am wary of managing an online personality and tend to share much less that other people that I follow (no picture albums [except for a few that I share with a handful of close friends], no open wall, etc. I really appreciate being able to see friends’ and acquaintances major life moments (wedding albums, pregnancy announcement), linked articles, etc. I also like being able to message those friends whose emails I may not have…

  120. Beth Anne

    Totally agree with you on #6. I can remember days where I would “give up facebook” for a day or thought about giving up fb or twitter for lent but then I would just find other ways to waste time online and wasn’t really being more productive.

    I don’t know that I’ll ever give up facebook as I live far from family and friends. Although lately I only use facebook for groups that I like chatting with people in.

  121. Monica Benninghoff

    I joined FB at a time when I was vulnerable with depression. The games sucked me in and I lost a year of my life, or was it two? I’m still trying to catch up with paperwork. I’ve often thought that FB abuse is a symptom of a lot of people suffering from depression, at least the folks who lose themselves in the games.

    My new and improved use of FB is as a news reel of current events. I “Like” Catholic pages that are faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Boy, does that limit what I see on Facebook! I love reading the articles that are linked. Seriously, it saves me the time of searching out these nuggets of gold. I do NOT play any games on FB. Every few months I may scroll through some friends’ posts to see what’s going on in their lives, but I don’t linger and I NEVER chat.

    I don’t post photos (or personal status updates) often, and when I comment, it’s a positive message of love. No “one-up-manship’s onetand support. A lot of my close family members abhor FB, but I have found a way to coexist. My big time-zappers these days are BLOGS. And writing a blog.

    From what I know about you, you would not be happy with a FB account. Your friends will understand.

  122. Michelle

    Well, in trying to replace a bad habit with a good one, I decided to use the time I’d check in to FB several times daily, maybe while nursing, to work on homeschool matters that require computer time.

    Sooo, I guess FB is just a bad habit. Your words regarding mental clutter could have been mine ~ really! I did decide though, that I fret about what I say in person anyway, so what is the difference?

    As an impulsive person (I am almost certain that I suffer with Adult ADHD), at least I can somewhat edit before I send.

  123. Ellen

    If I could go back in time would I not sign up for Facebook? Absolutely not. Yes, Facebook can suck away time, and it can be a negative experience, but those words could also describe thousands of neutral options, and that’s how I see Facebook, as a morally neutral option.

    I’m a stay at home mom, a homeschooler, who lives in the country, and has moved frequently over the past 8 years. My 4 children are ages 6 and under. I love my life, but almost none of my friends live nearby, especially as I’ve made friends wherever we lived during the years of moving around. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with these people, if not intimately, than in a very comfy, casual way. I see pictures of their kids, can read about what is going on in their lives, and share in jokes or discussions with them. Surely, some might say, this void could be filled by talking on the telephone or writing emails. Well, perhaps, if you only intend to stay in touch with a few people that live far away. Sending emails is a great way to communicate, but it requires time and thought, and I do still write to a few non-FB friends this way, but it isn’t very often from their side either. And I cannot talk on the phone while being constantly interrupted by children, so I have to wait until after bedtime most day, or at least in the evening when my husband is home. Well, I’m usually too tired after the kids have given in to sleep, so those convos only happen every few weeks, and usually with the one same friend who really enjoys talking on the phone. So, if I was not on FB, my contact with my friends who do not live locally – so most of my friends – would be pretty rare.

    People get caught up in drama on FB, but most of my friends are mature adults, so that’s pretty easily avoided. Some people do not like the political and cultural debates that sometimes take place; I really enjoy a good discussion, and have been involved in several respectful debates. Is FB a good medium for sharing ideas and beliefs? I think it depends on who you are and how you share. I feel pretty comfortable doing so, but I know many people who think that FB should be kept light at all times. My philosophy is that they can hide my feed from their wall at any time.

    FB can be a time-eater, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve gotten better about just checking it a few times a day, but I do have to make sure I’m not overdoing it. That’s probably the biggest FB pitfall for me.

    Hands-down, my favorite way to communicate and interact with others is in person. I love hanging out and talking and laughing. I don’t have a smart phone, so unless I’m physically sitting down at my desktop, I’m not checking anything out online. FB has really given me a window to the world that I’m extremely thankful for. But others who perhaps don’t feel isolated need it far less, and that is completely understandable.

  124. GeekLady

    Should you be on FaceBook? I have to say yes, even though I loathe FaceBook and login only very rarely. I say yes, because a world with social media is the context we’re raising our kids in today, and I think teaching our kids to keep a handle on their digital identity in social media is extremely important. I’ve read about several cases of bullying that involved fake FaceBook profiles of the victims where the parents and bullied kids had no clue what was going on, primarily because they weren’t on the service at all. So while I might not like it or not use it much, I feel like I have to be on it just to keep a handle on things that are going on in my community. So that’s why I’m on FaceBook.

    I have a very strict policy of only accepting friends requests from people that I have met in the flesh, although I can see how this wouldn’t work well for a famous reality TV star such as yourself. But other than that, I just cultivate low expectations about my participation.

    My boys are still too little to use them, but they both have email addresses, ones they won’t be ashamed to put on a resume (and what a pain that was to set up!). As they grow, it’s just one more tool to teach them to use.

    I do wish we could move away from the stupid “13 and up” model of social media participation. It has obviously failed – frankly it was a stupid idea from the get go. Forbid kids to participate for years and then let them in essentially unfettered during at the start of the teenage years? It was never going to end well. I would love to see some proper ‘child’ accounts able to be created in association with a parent account. Something that would auto-emancipate at 18, and gives a very granular structure to the parent for teaching Internet street smarts.

  125. Emily Davis

    I so get this.
    For me, living in a Military Family… being perpetually lonely, it has been a God-send in some ways.
    I do follow self-imposed rules though. I only am friends with people I interact with or who I would keep in touch with anyway. Those people who friended me out of idol curiosity about what my life was like and never respond to a post or anything are long gone.
    I also take breaks for weeks or so at a time.
    It is a time-suck and in my very dysfunctional family causes problems.
    But I do enjoy seeing pictures of young cousins and my grandchild, etc.

    I admire you for never starting it up!

  126. LeAnna

    I think that if I lived in the same country as my close friends & family I could ditch Facebook. But being abroad I find it simplifies so much — I can see all of their pictures and get the little day to day updates that email doesn’t quite capture. Plus if I want to reach everyone at once I can use Facebook instead of having to send out mass emails or a tonne of specific emails.

    That said, it also drives me up the wall. But that’s why I make good use of the features that can control whose stuff I see and who sees my stuff.

  127. Stephanie Lochet

    “On the other hand, it acts as a filter for who is really interested in rekindling a true friendship. Old friends who want to reconnect can always call, email, or text me; if that feels like too much effort, maybe that’s a sign that right now isn’t the best time for us to be getting back in touch.”

    Ok, I have a personal story about being on the other end of this. I have a dear friend, someone I grew up with, our families are practically family, etc, who moved overseas. We used to write looooong emails catching each other up on news every month or two. But as time has gone on, these emails have become less frequent, because we both are so busy, and it’s daunting to have to think “Ok, what has happened in the last 5 months that I need to catch friend up on?” and then, because it’s daunting, I end up putting it off even longer. I once asked her about facebook, but she refuses to join, partly just because everyone else is doing it. Our emails have become less frequent, but we would still at least email each other with big news. Then I learned recently I missed some huge life events for her (good stuff) and I’m kind of sad that I had to hear about it from my mom, and not from her, and I wasn’t able to share in those moments with her. I’m kind of hurt, actually. She once said almost the exact same thing as you above, “My real friends will care enough to take the time to email me to keep in touch.” Well…the fact that she didn’t take the time to email me about some of her big news leaves me wondering, you know? I felt like this almost became a badge of honor for her, “I don’t do facebook” and as if she almost resented people who did, and expected people to prove themselves as her friends, because I guess facebook was just too easy or convenient, and honestly it was kind of hurtful now that I know there are things she hasn’t taken the time to share with me (as per her own “rules of friendship”).

    To be clear, I do NOT hear you saying this in the same kind of tone or with the same meaning that she did, I can understand the logic. But, sometimes people get busy, and it’s nothing personal, but then because “keeping up the non-facebook way” is seen as a kind of litmus test for whether someone cares enough or not, it can feel personal, you know? In a way it feels like saying, “Well, being friends with me should be WORK!” Huh? lol

    I’m sure it’s different for different personalities. I have 350+ “friends” on facebook, about half of them people I’ve never met in person. But my close, in person friends aren’t suddenly forgotten because I have a lot of people on facebook, and the easiness and convenience does not take away from our in person friendship. I still call and text and email and see those friends, there’s just an added layer of convenience and it’s especially great for big news that you want to share with everyone easily and quickly.

    I admit, I’m an open book. I love sharing my news with friends and family, I love discussing things with friends, I love chatting with them online. Writing is my preferred form of communication (I met my husband online, after all, this is just how I best “do” communication.) So if I had the choice to sign up again, absolutely YES I would do it.

    I disagree that facebook is inherently more shallow, etc. I think it is what you make of it. I am friends with several online friends who love deep discussion, and even friendly argument, as much as I do, and we enjoy having long conversations on each other’s walls. Yes, out in the open. I actually think this is important, I think civil discussion is nearly a lost art today, and so I WANT people to see that you can have an engaging discussion with someone, walk away completely disagreeing, and still be friends.

    Have there been contentious issues and time sucks on facebook? Yes, absolutely. In fact, last election season I mistakenly tried to engage in a friendly civil discussion with an in-law who posted a link to an article I thought was misleading, clearly telling them to just let me know if they weren’t interested in discussing it and I absolutely wouldn’t mention it again. Without any response I was blocked from their wall for a while (which I only realized because my husband is also friends, and was seeing things I wasn’t…otherwise I wouldn’t have known!) I admit it hurt, and I thought it sad we couldn’t just talk it out. But, hey, things happen, you learn, you move on.

    Another plus…groups. I’m part of several groups on facebook, many of them spinoffs of forums I used to or still currently frequent. It seems forums are less popular than they used to be, and facebook groups have kind of replaced them. GREAT for discussion, for local groups (both musical ensembles I belong to have a page, one of them just uses it to announce upcoming performances, the other we actually use quite frequently to communicate.)

    EVENTS! So many events I would miss with local Catholic groups if not for facebook. Not that I go to many of them, being mega super introvert, but we have gone to some, and they are things I likely would have missed otherwise. Even just keeping up with current events, facebook is my news. I hate TV news, never watch it, and have to wade through online news to find what I want. With facebook, my friends are my “trusted sources,” I know kind of what to expect from who, and I have friends from all over the political and religious spectrum and love to read articles recommended by people I know. On top of that, for instance while in France this summer, I was able to follow all the craziness at the capitol with the abortion bill stuff. I checked every morning when I woke up to see what was going on, and it was through personal stories and individuals I got the best, clearest, fastest information, not news articles.

    It can absolutely be addictive and a time suck, but you just learn to deal with that. I can get addicted to anything online, really, that’s just how it is for me. I go in phases on facebook…I might be very engaged in discussions for a while, and then step back for a few months and just observe. I think it’s probably a good idea to take a break around election seasons, it can get ugly. BUT, you can easily hide or block contentious or overly political types from your feed, without unfriending them, and then unhide them afterwards. There’s pretty much always a way to deal.

    Anyway, I’m sure you know what’s best for you! For me, the connections with people, the getting to know family who lives abroad in ways I never would have otherwise, the learning little everyday things about people I wouldn’t know otherwise, I love it. I can’t say I’ve felt like my opinion of people has plummeted because of knowing more about them, and I have never felt horribly jealous of seeing what other people are doing or what they have. I once read an article talking about people seriously becoming depressed because of seeing other people’s vacations on facebook etc, and I was really shocked by that! Never crossed my mind. Generally, I’m happy when my friends are happy, and I love seeing what they are up to. In fact, on our trip to France this past summer, I tried to take and post pics everyday of what we did and saw, and I’m STILL getting comments when I run into real life friends I haven’t seen in a while thanking me for taking the time to do it, that they loved seeing the pictures and hearing what we were up to.

    So, I suppose a lot of it just has to do with personality, disposition, what one uses facebook for, how they deal with potential conflict, and how well they use various tools for customizing their wall to see what they want or not. For me, the pros far, far, far outweigh the cons.

  128. Stephanie Lochet

    Oh oh! I just thought of something else, haha, as an introvert I love that it gives me possible topics of conversation when meeting up with people. I’m so awkward and awful at thinking up things to talk about in person out of the blue, so if I’m friends on facebook with an acquaintance, and see them after mass, I can say, “Oh hey I saw you just got a new job! Congrats, how’s it going?” or “You had a birthday this week, right? Happy Birthday!” or “You have to tell me how you killed that rattlesnake outside your house!” (That is a real example, local, yep.)

    This introvert loves that about it. I love to observe and get to know people to best know how to interact with them, what topics to avoid (because I know we might not agree), what things interest them, etc to find topics to discuss in person. I feel like it’s a big help in avoiding awkwardness, for me. 🙂

    Honestly, I’ve never really thought this much about it, but I really very much appreciate how facebook has helped me connect more with people. I don’t see it as a replacement for relationships or downgrade at all. I don’t not call someone because I can see them on facebook, I just wouldn’t be calling anyone anyway (have I mentioned how much I HATE talking on the phone?). For me it’s the opposite, I’m much more likely to connect with someone in person because we are friends on facebook, and being able to observe from afar a bit helps me feel more comfortable around them in person. So maybe that’s why it is such a positive for me…it helps my introverted self feel so much more comfortable interacting with people in person when I already know at least a little something about them. Is that creepy? lol!

  129. Linda

    I used to be on FB, but deleted my account about six months ago. For several years I was on FB and it was fine. I don’t have a smartphone and I only checked FB on my computer, in the family “office” room about once a day. No biggie. I had some nice experiences – like reconnecting with a friend from college. Our friendship had ended shortly after we graduated from college over some stupid disagreement that I hardly even remember, then she moved and I moved and we never got a chance to make up. So it was nice to “find” her 10 yrs later on FB and reconcile with her.

    When my family moved into a new house we got a computer for the living room & I had a baby that I was breastfeeding. I started to spend a LOT of time on FB and it began to really affect my mood and waste SO MUCH TIME and it was adding very little to my life. I found it hard to go back to checking just once a day – so I deleted the account.

    Sometimes I’m sure I do miss out on things. FB was not all bad for me, but it was clearly a net loss for me. I am much happier without it.

  130. Karen Bell

    My husband and I deleted our accounts two years ago. He felt happy about it right away. I, however, suffered from withdrawals for a year and a half! But now I am so happy I didn’t give in. Sure, there are some very real benefits to facebook, but for me and I think many others, it was an overall net loss. I have more time for more worthwhile things and have more real and deep friendships.

  131. lisa

    I would not sign up for it again. I waste too much time on it. However, I do:
    1)Pray for friends who ask or who need it based on their posts
    2) Get to read very excellent articles posted by my friends who are very intelligent folks, and that keeps a bit of my intellectual life alive in the midst of mothering my very numerous children. I could probably sign up for the journals these articles come from and then not need to expose myself to facebook time wasting. But it is nice to hear my friend’s perspectives about the articles they post. I’m sure it’s as close to intellectual conversation as I’m going to get most days.

  132. S

    I’ve been on since April 2004 (when it was only a handful of colleges), and maybe because I was using it for so many years before your points became an issue (ESPECIALLY #1), I don’t really blame FB – I blame people misusing (in my view) FB. Once upon a time there were no status updates – Facebook was for posting photo albums and writing informally to one another on a graffiti-type wall on each profile. Even after status messages (and then the ability to share links) came about, the Facebook population at the time never would have dreamed of posting about politics or anything controversial – it was for humorous and light/mundane commentary and information.

    Your first point is my largest problem (particularly with family/people you have to be friends with), and I’m now very aware that since *I* like some people less due to what they post online, the same is surely true when I’m tempted to comment on an annoying or inflammatory post/link. I’ve gotten ruthless in hiding people from my newsfeed – I’ll actively go check some people’s profiles often, because I care and wouldn’t want to miss anything big, but their posts don’t make me cranky if I’m actively going to their page rather than them polluting my own newsfeed. I tend to think that if Facebook makes you cranky, or like people less, it just means you’re using it wrong (as are they, but you can be friends with people while keeping their content from appearing to you) – but that perspective comes from never having these issues before Facebook really spread to everyone in 2008/2009. The population influx just came with different norms of use. :-/

    The upside is that, once you’ve ruthlessly pruned your own FB/newsfeed experience, and locked down privacy settings (only about half of my real life friends/acquaintances – because I’m not friends with anyone I don’t or haven’t known in person – see my general posts, and smaller subsets see some things), it’s a really great way to maintain contact and connections with people. I know a lot of my extended family far better than I did before they all joined Facebook, and as long as I hide people correctly, it’s had wonderful real-life effects on the occasions the extended family is together. And it’s a painless way to stay familiar and connected with old friends without having to actively “stay in touch” – the connection is maintained via sending one another congrats and condolences on various life events.

  133. Kari

    I was on Facebook for years and had a love/hate relationship with it. After a lot of prayer, I deleted my account about 2 years ago and have never looked back.

    I “loved” it when I was on it because I was addicted to it and felt compelled to check it constantly. I hated it because I could see it was unhealthy and a path to sinfulness and selfishness and insecurity– at least for me.

    Though there can be benefits– like keeping in touch with friends and family and reconnecting with people we’ve lost touch with- overall I think Facebook is all about narcissism and self-centeredness. The whole premise behind it is to build a page that screams “LOOK AT ME!” Furthermore, it can encourage unhealthy comparisons and creates relationships with qualities that are eeriely similar to stalking (peeking into someone else’s life without an real communication necessary).

    If you decide to take the plunge I would advise you to do so with GREAT caution and LOTS of prayer.

  134. Sarah

    Is #4 really a thing? Yikes.

    We’ve been FB free for 3 years now. Occasionally I miss…but that’s usually only because I feel like stalking someone, and really–who does that ever help?

    We got off because of the stats on how it effects marriages, and because we wanted to, in theory, limit the amount of info we gave to FB/the gov. As it turns out, the NSA is busy watching us all anyways…so…I guess that reason isn’t valid anymore. LOL.

  135. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I never actually created an account. I woke up one morning in college, and my roomie told me she made one for me. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t, but I do like my fan page for my blog.

    So, I have been managing my fan page through my personal account, but I don’t really post on my personal account anymore.

    Make sense?

  136. Christine

    I wish I never had one and am looking into deleting it. I am not on it much, but when I am, it’s too much family drama. Family members who are nice to your face sometimes post offensive, sexual jokes about your religion (the same religion in which they were raised). I had to unfriend a family member because of that. It just didn’t help our relationship in real life, which has improved now that we aren’t FB friends.

    Then there are the in-laws and the sighing, vague little comments about “sad family issues,” when you suspect their “sad issue” is that you married their son. Or their frantic requests for prayers shortly after your spouse tried to defend their insults.

    Perhaps one reads too much into these things, but I sometimes feel like passive aggressive “prayer requests” are posted as veiled gossip and criticism. For example (and I am just making this up to make a point) a mother posting “Please pray for my grief and hurt feelings,” combined with an excerpt from the Prodigal Son, the day after a grown adult child defends their political or religious beliefs when personally confronted. She doesn’t mention the specific incident, but friends rally around her, offering prayers, when you have a feeling she is venting about YOU and she wants you to see it and ask, “What’s wrong? Is that because of me?”

    Or I am completely paranoid. But either way, it’s a good reason to stay off FB.

    The only small problem is that some people post last-minute party invites or get-togethers this way. But if they really like me, they can invite me with a quick call, email or text.

  137. Amy

    I really liked your honesty about Facebook, and I wish more people would have conversations like this. our Consumption of Technology and the internet affects us so much but people too rarely do it without even thinking!
    Just today I saw this article and I really hope you read it because I would love to hear what you think about it,
    Internet Free: 30 Days of Digital Detox
    God Bless you and thanks for all the goodness you have brought to my life!

  138. Andrea

    This is such a great post. I Just deleted my facebook today, and this post had a lot to do with it. Thanks! I am relieved to be off of facebook.

  139. lisaf

    I wonder if anyone will read Every comment. haha!

    It seems, as someone without a personal blog where I can air my thoughts and opinions, that’s what Facebook is for me. But just for friends. Those folks who have 9236283642 “friends” on Facebook? No, no you don’t. I seriously only am “friends” with people I would actually spend time with. That said, most of my Facebook friends live far away from me. The ones who live close I actually Do spend time with. I mean, they are still on Facebook–I can’t see them Every Minute. haha!

    You know what I love about Facebook? Back in the way back day, if you had news that you wanted to share with a ton of people, you’d be on the phone for Days! Now? Blam! One post. Everyone knows. Oh sure, you can email, but this way you get all your responses in one spot. And those folks can chat with each other. Okay, so sometimes your news is “I just had the Best burger Ever!” Personal choice. haha

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