Wednesday, March 4, 2009

social networking dilemma

a few weeks ago i decided to leave faceb@@k after finishing a particularly stressful editing project. during the project, which i had procrastinated severely on, i kept getting emails saying "john has also commented on his status" or "jill has sent you a message" or "elvira has written on your wall."

i think it had become extra stressful at that time because i was suddenly connecting with tons of people from my high school days. i went to three different high schools, so i "know" lots of people (three times the amount, i guess!), but i honestly don't remember most of them, and i'm quite sure they don't remember me. and, much more stressful, is that IF they happen to remember me, they remember me in a way i would rather not be remembered.

i was such a dork in high school. i know, you will say "everyone was." no, seriously, i struggled to have even the most basic social skills. i was in marching band (social death wish right there), i wore glasses AND braces at the same time, and because of various financial reasons (the main one being my parents were in college when i was in middle school) i almost never had anything fashionable to wear.

so imagine my anxiety when two pictures of me in 8th grade surfaced on facebook? at first i tried to be a good sport. it was a class shot, after all, not just one of me by my dorky self. but then i noticed some people didn't even remember me, and one girl even commented, "oh NOW i remember you. you were so nutty! in a good way LOL." 

can i just stop and say how much i hate that acronym LOL? i refuse to use it. i guess my husband refuses to use starbuc&$ lingo when he orders a drink for me ("give me a medium mocha"), and i have to say that i refuse to use some of this texting language. it's just so irritating.

anyway, NUTTY? i'm a sensitive person, and i hadn't seen or heard from this girl in 20 years, and then that's what she posts about  me? and of course, it's after about 18 people have already commented on the photo, so EVERY SINGLE PERSON on there got that little quip about me. ugh.

i found myself back in 9th grade, feeling insecure, unloved, ugly duckling, waiting to hopefully change into something better one day. and i didn't like what i was feeling. this was so dumb. after all, as i grew up, i literally RAN from those days, those people, created a new me. 

or, maybe it's just that i didn't know who i was then, and as i grew up i became the woman i was always going to become. (i definitely think i had some amazing people around me in my early 20s to shape who i am today) and i also recognize that no one knows who he or she is in middle school. but you know, that's not how you or i remember it: we just remember those mortifying moments when a friend paid a boy you liked a dollar to dance with you at a middle school dance. yes, that happened to me. it was horrifying. it was potentially life-ending. 

ok, so at the risk of sending myself out to the edge of the front porch, threatening to jump off the one foot drop-off (it would hurt my already injured knee, at least), i will keep all my other early kristi memories to myself. :)

but this was all happening at the same time, and i just sort of lost it related to faceb@@k. so i decided that i was going to quit, and before i even did anything about it i felt so liberated.

first, i went through and got rid of about 160 "friends," though. i know, call me grouchy, antisocial, whatever. i just couldn't stand seeing updates of people i really didn't care about, and i know, you will say "well just don't look then." yeah right. i am proud to say that i do not watch reality tv shows, and this is for my own safety: when i go down that path i just can't turn back...

so then, when i tried to delete my account, it was just "deactivated." beyond the more obviously shocking privacy implications, i also thought, "oh no, i can go back whenever i want." it's like quitting heroin, only to have an unlocked closet stocked full of needles. (and if you use this social networking device, then you absolutely, unequivocally know what i'm talking about--how many times have i seen new users say "_____ needs to cook dinner for her family but can't get off FB"? how many times have i felt this way?!)

i updated my status to let everyone know i was going away and to contact me via email if they wanted to stay in touch. even though it's not as easy, it's much more intimate anyway to stay in touch with electronic letters. then i made a couple more status updates, and someone on my friend list actually asked me if i needed to adjust my medication.

well, that's like asking a woman, "are you PMS'ing? because you are a real bitch today." :) i knew i was being too sensitive, but then again, in a world where you can just type anything you want and hit "enter" before you even think, i have to say that i don't think it was JUST that i was being sensitive.

so i kept my account open, because i want to be able to see pictures of my nephew and stay in touch with my sister, but i have committed to not posting status updates. i went through and cleared out about 2 months' worth of updates, and as i was doing that i kept thinking, "how narcissistic am i?" most of the crap i posted on there was just that--crap. the pictures are worth keeping on there, but seriously, who cares if i just finished cleaning toilets or baking cookies or am about to strangle my kids? (joking, people, joking!) 

i am trying to practice self-control. and this, for me, is a good start, especially in an age where we are completely accessible 24/7, even to people we care nothing about and really don't want to be connected to anymore.

if you struggle with this and at least want to reign in the privacy settings on your account, this is a GREAT article that tells you step by step how to do it.

happy networking! ;)


Kristin said...

Oh Sweet Kristi, I tagged you in that picture. I had no idea it would make you feel so awful. I'm sorry. If you would like to feel a part of a group of awkward middle/highschoolers, check out the pic of me that Heather Carroll had posted in 9th grade. I couldn't look more strange. And the girls around me look pretty good, aside from maybe one. I just want to remind you that you're a daughter of The King and that makes you beautiful, even when you don't FEEL you are. Also, I don't remember thinking you were strange or dorky or weird looking. You were my friend and I loved you, period.

karin said...

Is rude of me to say that the last comment was ridiculously patronizing to you? I can't believe she commented.

Ok, anyway now that I am not making any new friends here let me go on.

Your post had me laughing, sighing, nodding in complete agreement about FB, and revisiting some of my old feelings about middle school and high school. I had braces, glasses and foot inserts in my shoes to correct a slight problem in my feet that I still have. I also played in the band and we would have been friends back then like we are now!

I have to tell you that after all the posting about FB from your friend and the Mommy Revolution I promptly visited my FB account to close it (after not logging on for several months) and I couldn't do it. I looked at all of the people I had lost contact with and had regained through FB and I decided I couldn't give it up. So, there you go...I'm with you. I haven't given it up completely, but I haven't been back on, either. So, I guess all of this means we just need to keep connecting with each other in the other ways we already do and not on FB! :)

Kristin said...

I am not the person who made the "nutty" comment about Kristi. She was my dearest friend from
5-9th grade. We were then reunited in college and were again, attached at the hip. I was apologizing for TAGGING her in the photo. I didn't know that tagging her would result in the comments that followed, or the feelings she would feel. Please be careful before you judge a comment, when you don't know the real story. I DO love Kristi and wished I lived where I could hang out with her.

karin said...


Thanks for clearing that up. I think I was a little defensive on Kristi's part because she and I have been talking about a lot of these issues between the both of us and I just felt like she was taking a big leap to be vulnerable in posting about it all. It's hard to read comments and know where someone is coming from sometimes, so I apologize if I judged you harshly. Your language kind of threw me because it sounded a little condescending, yet I understand you were trying to be encouraging. Sorry to stick my nose in it. Kristi has come to my defense a time or two in our friendship and I think I was too quick to jump.

asti said...

Hi Kristi....
I feel the same about FB. I signed up out of interest 'cause everyone was doing it. I hooked up with a couple of old friends and a lot of people I went to school with. But to be honest I find it all a bit of a waste of time, with all the wall writing, nudging and silliness. (Dont get me wrong, I like a laugh...but I just don't have time to resond to all that stuff. I haven't logged on for ages and ages...

Amelia Plum said...

Kristi, I'm sorry to hear about your facebook experience. The comment that person made about you being nutty was tactless to say the least. It would be one thing if it was a friend that you're still close to and in touch with but someone who hasn't seen or talked to you in twenty years? Sounds like a Heather, great movie of the eighties and probably Winona Ryder's acting high point. I'm with you on the LOL too, I read somewhere about an actress thinking the acronym was 'Lord oh Lordy' which cracked me up. The how social networking through the internet can be a minefield and with facebook it can be like a high school popularity contest revisited, what fun (I say in total irony). I like facebook for keeping in contact with some of the moms at the school my son goes to, so we can collectively bitch when there's a snow day. But the whole high school cattiness thing I can do without.

amommystory said...

Nerds Unite! I was below the Marching Band level in school; seriously, I aspired to be friends with those kids, but I was to un-coordinated.

Here's to being late-bloomers, and never being able to say, "Highschool was the best years of my life!"

I am still going though FB withdrawals, and I wish I had your self control. But I have lost 5 lbs since I logged off. I think it is a coincidence... but maybe we can write a book about it and make a million bucks. Want to edit for me?

Ok, all that to say, love your post, sorry it took me so long to read it, and I really love being your friend! Especially off of FB. (Though all the wall-to-walls you wrote me did make me look pretty relevant and cool to all the people I went to high school with...)

Pixie said...

I am so sorry for this hurtful experience. Yuck.

i gave up FB, blogs, reader & gchat for Lent & it was so healthy for me. The first few days were hard because I was so dependent on these outlets for affirmation. I actually missed seeing what people were doing or that they were online because then it didn't make me feel so alone. If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm catching up right now (while Preston is distracted with playdough). Since Lent, the only thing I have "regressed" in is The MR blog. I commented & clicked that damn - send me comment follow-up email box. I want to know what people say & if they mention MY comment. That stupid affirmation thing. Ugh.

If I had it to do over again, I would let myself read your & Karin's blogs - because I really, really missed you guys & I feel that this is primarily how we connect. When I realized that I vowed to write you a letter & was on the point of calling...until P did something & well, you know how that goes :)