I took a six-month vacation from Facebook - and survived

I took a six-month vacation from Facebook - and survived

This column appeared in The News-Gazette on Tuesday, April 23, 2015.

Almost a year ago now, my laptop died. It wasn’t quite as catastropic as a smartphone failure, but close.

After several futile attempts at a rescue, I gave up and bought a replacement.

But I discovered something in the interim. With no easy access to a laptop, I had stopped checking Facebook regularly. And I felt ... calmer somehow.

It was one less thing to keep up with, besides email, regular mail, texts and Twitter (which I regularly use for work). Yes, I could log on to Facebook at work, too, but there was always that nagging pull to check my home page and everybody else’s updates about vacations and kids and the latest viral animal photos ... and two hours later I’d stumble back to real life with glazed eyes and feet that had fallen asleep.

As it turned out, we had some family needs to take care of last summer, and work was crazier than usual, so my Facebook fast stretched from weeks into months.

And I discovered something else. Perhaps coincidentally — and maybe because we lost my mom in August — I started reaching out to friends more IRL. Meeting for breakfast before work. Inviting people over for a drink on a Friday night. Forcing myself to take time for a real lunch or girls night out or just a long talk.

Time is always short when you’re a working mom, and your social life tends to revolve around your kids’ activities. But those change over time as kids grow up and drift from basketball to band to aikido, or whatever. And you lose touch with the people you used to see every day after school or all summer long at baseball games. The best we can do sometimes is “like” each other’s posts on Facebook, which just doesn’t feel like enough.

I’ve always been blessed with friends who pin me down and say, “We’re meeting on this day at this place, and you’re coming.” But half the time I’d have to cancel at the last minute because of work, or realize that it conflicted with a concert or game or meeting.

But I’ve just decided to make it a priority again. It hasn’t been foolproof, but I feel more connected now, more grounded somehow.

A few weeks ago, I went to St. Louis for a bridal shower for the daughter of one of my close friends from childhood. The trip posed some challenging logistics because of other commitments, but I really wanted to go. My friend lives in Springfield, just an hour and a half away, but we hardly ever see each other, and I hadn’t seen her daughter since she was a girl.

Several other friends from my high school group were at the shower, too. We quickly morphed back into our adolescent selves, reliving the crazy driving stories and embarrassing moments of our youth — and giving unsolicited advice to the bride. We were by far the loudest people at the shower.

Later, the bride-to-be said, “It was so fun to meet my mom’s friends.”

Afterward, we shot texts back and forth for the next day or so, making plans to get together again for the next event in May or June.

These women were my second family all through high school, and every time we get together it’s like we never left.

The same is true with other friends and family now scattered across the country, and if I’m honest about it, texting and Facebook have made keeping up with them a lot easier. I can text for a quick recipe just like they’re down the street, see pictures of my newest great-nephews, or wish people a “Happy Birthday!” when I know the card isn’t going to arrive on time.

So, yes, I’m back on Facebook, irregularly. I finally bit the bullet last fall, posting an apology for all the life events I had missed.

It’s just a part of life now.

But this week, I’m looking forward to an actual visit from some friends we see about once a year, if we’re lucky. There’s a dinner planned for Thursday night, and we’ll be there come hell or high water (after a baseball game, of course).

_____________

Julie Wurth blogs about kids and families and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her at 217-351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com or on Twitter.com @jawurth.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):People

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