Well, it’s over. Lent. The five lettered “L” word which forced me to give up Facebook for six weeks. I opted to swapping media connectivity and convenience for some sort of spiritual connectivity. Surely underneath the layers of technological dominance I could find this old-fashioned thing called: Life? ‘Life,’ like the flea-ridden Big Foot and the haggis-loving Loch Ness monster still had a popular following, 17,028 Facebook friends and counting. I however, still remained somewhat dubious and skeptical if such a thing existed. But I decided that giving up Facebook would be start and worthy for the crusade.
The response to do such a thing like a Facebook detox was mixed from a “good on you” to a “I couldn’t do it” to the more frustrating demands of friends who were annoyed that they couldn’t contact me through their keyboard fingertips, “get back on Facebook Shannon, Jesus will not mind.”
I assured these friends to not worry, but I would be having a fun time living under a rock, re-discovering the joy of the wheel. Six weeks is a pretty long time, in the time it takes you to read this sentence you’ve probably got seven new status updates in your Facebook feed. In six weeks I could’ve moved to Spain, fallen in love with a tango dancer named Juan, married, become pregnant with twins and read the entire Harry Potter book series (twice). This is the fast-paced, instantaneous hare-beating the tortoise world we live in. Sadly, none of these things occurred but how would the Facebook world know that? For Facebook, I had perhaps fallen off the side of the world. Where in the world was Shannon McKeogh? And why wasn’t she telling her beloved Facebook what she was doing?
Sorry Zuckerberg and co but even I don’t think Shannon McKeogh is that important, she only has 182 friends for one thing. She is certainly not worth sending an internet search party looking for her. At 21 years old, it was safe to say that I had the sufficient navigation skills one needs to not get lost in a supermarket like a small child. But a search party they sent, they sent me multiple concerned emails, “Re-connect with your friends Shannon.” It had a whinny, needy tone to it.
Facebook was being quite the insecure and paranoid girlfriend. OK, its concerns were valid as I was having a love affair with snail mail and had rekindled with my old flame, the email account. Remember those old devices? Yeah, turns out you can “connect with friends” through these portals as well. Facebook is not the inventor of communication people! Yet why do we put it on such a pedestal? And it shouldn’t be any surprise that my other lovers would prove more favourable and refreshing to the blue and white format in the six-week period. Who doesn’t love a special handwritten letter? Reading an email, dedicated and written for you is much more meaningful (and connected) then a two sentence, “how you going? I’m good.” wall-post.
Emails and letters are also less stalkerish, there’s no need to linger or hang around like a bad smell by reading messages not meant for your eyes. The hidden labyrinth of time-wasting is by no means avoided, but the guilt associated with the procrastination in contacting a friend is less severe and mingled with a sense of good Samarian-ness as well.
Yet, I’d be lying if all 42 days were easy-breezy. I had needy pangs to scroll through the familiar feed and read unnecessary information about my friends’ lives (You ate a sandwich! Wow Kudos on your sandwich making skills!) I spent more time opening the refrigerator and evaluating its contents, anything to avoid working on an essay. Gossip and complaints which was once conversed virally were instead discussed with my dog, “Monty, my hairdresser told me that Tamara has married a spanish dancer named Juan and is expecting twins!” I was completely clueless when it came to birthdays and most were forgotten (how did we remember before the days of Facebook?). I also didn’t know about any social events unless informed specially through email or text. I also could not track my internet content, who knows what hideous photos I was being tagged in while away?
These were little things, but being a nomad was a nice break from the “real” world of Facebook. I had more time and contacted friends with more thought. Oh and Life? Turns out such a thing really does exist after all. I found it in tatters, struggling for breath under a pile of dust-collecting university lecture notes.
Now that Lent is over I have re-connected and breathed a sigh of relief (no bad hair photos, or pyjama tagging). I’m back in the know about birthday dates and events. Facebook was happy to see me, sending me an email “Welcome back Shannon!” The poor thing, missed me. Too bad I didn’t feel the same way.