Before You Delete Your Facebook Account, Remember You Are Not Alone …

leafAs it is with most things that become popular, it’s become fashionable in recent years to say you’re not on Facebook, to turn your nose up at the daily navel-gazing that occurs on a site that claims to boast 890 million daily active users — on average. I get it.

Facebook is not just something I do for fun; although it is that too. Like most Americans over the age of 13, I use Facebook to pass the time when I’m bored in the doctor’s waiting room or to find out if that old pal from high school had her baby yet. It’s the place I turn when I need 30 people to give instantaneous advice on getting rid of one’s sinus headache or how to convince a 9-year-old that asking one to sweep under the desk in her room does not mean you’re the “meanest mother ever, oh my Gaaaawd.”

But as an editor at an online website who oversees a portion of the social media activity of the site, Facebook is as much a part of my livelihood as it is part of my life. I am on it every day, and yes, someone pays me for that.

The most popular social media site on the planet has forced me to see some sides of humanity that I would rather avoid: the comments written to tear people down, the pages built around hate groups and hateful acts, the incessant need for people to spew angry vitriol at one another under the guise of freedom of speech.

Facebook is but a microcosm of the problem with the Internet at large: people have been given a voice, but they don’t always have anything worth saying.

And yet …

When my beloved dog passed away recently, I was reminded why it is that something Mark Zuckerberg created to let a bunch of kids at Harvard talk to each other online has become the Hydra of the Internet, slithering its many heads outward into the far recesses of the Internet.

Comments were left on my wall. Condolences sent directly to my inbox. Hugs sent virtually over the wires to my home. Stories of pups past and love enduring shared over and over and over again, in a giant support group, the kind that would never have time to come together in a more physical sense. And because it wasn’t organized or kept to one event, the comfort constantly trickling in managed to keep my family aloft as we contemplated life without our favorite friend.

It wasn’t face-to-face, but it didn’t need to be. It just needed to exist somewhere. Thanks to Facebook, it did. This is the other side of the Internet, the side often missed in criticism of the over-sharing and the navel-gazing so prevalent in the age of cellphone cameras and constant status updates.

More From Inside Out: Go Ahead, Tell Me I’m a Bad Mom

Beyond food, water, and shelter, the most desired human necessity is connection. The old poem tells us, “no man is an island,” the songs remind us, “we all need somebody to lean on.”

Only, where are we to find those people? Or more importantly, when? In a time when the average American works longer days, takes less vacation, and retires later than anyone else in first world (we’re even outworking the Japanese these days), what counts as human connection has morphed from hugs and handshakes to “like” and “comments.”

But all it takes is one to let us know we’re not alone.

 

Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?

 

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