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Page Two of Facebook Famine Ends with Celebration of Empty Calories

And how I’m stiiiillll  painting the master bedroom, hired a painter, etc.  yawn, yawn, yawn.   I missed it enough that on Sunday, March 21, I thought I’d do what most fasting Catholics do.  I cheated, sort of.  It was Sunday after all, and there were more than forty days in Lent this year.   

So I posted this message: He who is without sin, right? My "Facebook fast" is going reasonably well, but did you know that there are 46 days of Lent this year? As if we Catholics don't suffer enough, right? So today is Sunday, and I thought I'd "cheat." Hello Facebook Friends. I miss you.   

Immediately one friend urged me not to feel I’m cheating since her Irish Catholic mother always had a bite of chocolate on Sundays. 

Another friend tried to console me by taking on the dialect of an Irish Catholic priest and offering me his blessing.  But at the stroke of midnight, I went back to my fast.  No commenting and no status updates.  I was starting to feel a bit “over” Facebook and that it is a little silly to share so much dumb stuff with people who may or may not really care.    

Nevertheless, the following Sunday I “cheated” again by posting photos of the chocolate Easter eggs I made with my daughter.  Friends requested samples.  I was back and my Facebook friends noticed.

The third lesson:  I don’t think I got more work done during my Facebook fast.   I’m still plugging away at several new writing projects at the same speed as usual.  I wasn’t checking Facebook as much and I was free from pondering what witty status update I might post next, but, I didn’t feel suddenly that I had a huge amount of extra time on my hands.   

So, Forty-four days without Facebook are over and my conclusion is that it is a harmless and fun way to express yourself and connect with people you would likely not connect with so much if you were not on Facebook.  Like face-to-face communication, Facebook is reciprocal.  The more you contribute the more you get back. 

The adage “we get out of life exactly what we put in”  certainly applies to Facebook.  But unlike face to face communication, I think online communication can only take relationships so far.  It is ambient awareness that helps connect people, but not truly connect with people the way that face to face communication does. 

I could imagine a great Facebook relationship building between two former college classmates, for example.  There seems to be so much in common between you and the constant witty rapport back and forth that is fun and stimulating. So after a few months of steady Facebook communication you plan to meet face to face, only to discover that the connection that Facebook facilitated doesn’t translate to your in person relationship.  You’ve seen the tee-shirt,  “You were more fun on Facebook.”   

Facebook is text-based and fun, but in a “hey you” kind of way that leads to … not necessarily valuable relationships.  And for those who are truly connected to us, Facebook is a poor substitute.  A little like winter tomatoes. They taste so different than summer tomatoes that they should be called something else.  To put it another way: Facebook communication is to deep and meaningful relationships what cubic zirconias are to diamonds — a cheap alternative that you know isn’t really fooling anyone.  But, like the faux ring, it is cheap, harmless and stylish, too, so why not? 

In a Chronicle Review, a writer described Facebook communication “like binging on junk food.”  As long as Facebook isn’t our main method of communication, I think we should go ahead and continue to indulge.  I always did like some chocolate after I've eaten my vegetables.

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©2010 Nichola Gutgold for SeniorWomen.com

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