Friday, 9 March 2012

Taking a break from Facebook

I recently decided to have a break from Facebook. It was distracting me from work and from the real, face-to-face relationships I have.

And although I was delighted for the people involved, the constant stream of engagement announcements and baby photos made me a bit depressed about my own marriageless, childless life.

But five days on, the lack of Facebook is taking its toll. I feel as though I’m out of the loop – what breaking news might I have missed in my absence? And worse still, what if my friends forget about me now my incredibly witty status updates are gone?

In deactivating my account, it almost felt like I was deleting myself. There were no more likes or comments on my posts and photos; no more invitations to events I was never going to go to. I no longer appear in people’s friends lists or turn up in search results for the thousands of people that are desperate to track me down. It’s like I no longer exist.

And I must admit I’ve really missed it. I like it when people post nice things on my wall or add me as a friend. I like the likes I get when I’ve posted a particularly profound pearl of wisdom. It all gives me a nice, warm fuzzy feeling. But is this normal?

Well, interviewing comedian Tony Vino this week reassured me that this need for approbation isn’t uncommon. He told me how comedians often lap up the laughs as a way of making themselves feel appreciated.

He said: “It still seems bizarre to me that a group of people spend half their lives travelling around the country seeking public affirmation from a group of strangers. I’m sure psychologists would have a lot to say about why we go to such lengths to please people. This is where I need to be vigilant that I don’t get into the trap of basing my worth on the acceptance of other people.”

So where should we be basing our worth if it’s not on other people’s perceptions of us? On our work? How many cars we have? How well our kids are doing at school? Tony believes our self-esteem should actually come from the one who created us, and I have to agree.

He explained: “My constant prayer is that my identity is in God. Laughter and good vibes audience are lovely, but if I rely on that to feel good I become a performing junkie, constantly needing the next high (not to be confused with a performing monkey; they’re happy with a banana and friendly scratch!).

“I rest in God knowing that my worth isn’t dictated by the audience or career. Sure, if I have a bad gig I can feel lousy, but I see it in perspective. If I have an awesome gig I thank God for the connection made with the audience and the gift of life.”

I don’t know where that leaves me in my Facebook dilemma. Should I make my temporary absence a permanent one and only commune with God from now on? I’m not sure my friends and family would be keen if I suddenly ostracised myself from the world (or maybe they would?!). I think the key is to find a balance; to enjoy the benefits of social networking without relying on it to massage my ego.

And I’ve also decided to spend more time with real people rather than just stalking them in cyberspace. When I look back on my life I’ll remember going for a nice meal with friends, but I won’t remember who ‘liked’ my status. I’ll have fond memories of holidays and baby showers, but I won’t recall someone from school who I never really got on with adding me as their 7,000th friend.

Most importantly, I’ll spend time finding out who I am in God’s eyes and to work on doing what he likes rather than soliciting approval from my Facebook ‘friends’.

Read the full (and extremely funny) interview with Tony Vino in the upcoming issue of Sorted magazine.

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