As our lives have become more enmeshed with the Internet, it can sometimes be time to consider taking a break from social networking in particular. As a Reader, I am frequently asked about situations involving Facebook by clients. In the “old days”, we didn’t really have this detailed window into the lives of others, the way we do now with social networking websites. Being able to share and connect with our friends and family, even from afar, is truly a wonderful thing that these sites have made possible. However, there is also a less positive side to sites like Facebook, and I have become concerned about these issues lately.
Once upon a time, if we had a break-up of a relationship, the situation would end, and generally the two parties would mostly move on. Of course these break-ups hurt, but time and space generally helped to heal those wounds. Unfortunately nowadays, we don’t always get the distance we need to heal. Facebook pages of former partners are there for us to see, and can serve as a 24-7 reminder of rejection, confusion and pain. And of course, it is only human nature that we are drawn to looking at these pages to get a glimpse into a former partner’s activities.
Not only is this emotionally exhausting, but this form of external “monitoring” can become a compulsion that is very hard to stop. It is very important to remember that social networking sites like Facebook really don’t give a REAL window into any insight about anyone. If you have found yourself drawn to this type of pattern, it is a good exercise to ask yourself what you are really gaining from seeking out this information? Are you taking care of your own feelings by engaging in this pattern? Do you feel better (or worse) when you do it?
When thinking about these points, you might rationalize, “Well, I know I shouldn’t be checking this person’s Facebook page, but by seeing what he/she is doing, I feel like I KNOW things and that gives me some control…” Keep in mind that the illusion of “knowing things” about a former lover, friend or even co-worker is somewhat false when you think about it. Most of the time, ‘knowing things’ really does not change the situation-and can make you feel more sad and lonely as a result.
Once you begin to recognize these things, consider taking a “Face-cation”. By doing so, you can then begin to free yourself from this pattern and achieve more balance with regard to your life, both in the real sense and online. Facebook will still be there, and by taking this break, you can better appreciate actual human connections and what those have to offer you. It is a big world out there, so get out and participate in real life too! You won’t be sorry that you did, and once you return to your online interactions, you’ll enjoy your involvements there much more too as a result.