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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I Love Facebook & Twitter and why I had to give some of it up

It's no secret that I love Facebook and Twitter.  Let me tell you three of the top reasons why.

1. I finally feel like a decent friend.   - With the pace of life, I'm lucky to find time to be face to face with my friends. Now I can connect at 9pm from my couch with no make up while watching American Idol. No babysitter or cleaning the bathroom required. Sure, I'd love to be sitting in a cafe with my friends sipping a latte and nibbling a scone talking about our quality of life. I'd love to invite my friends for some wine and cheese on any given Friday night. The problem is finding the same time slot available on everyone's frenetically charged calendars. I've had more chats with my high school friends in the last year than I have in the 20 years prior all combined. I love these guys and gals.Now I can actually keep up with their lives and give them some insight into mine.

2. I'm finally an official writer.    I define the difference between an official writer and a wannabe writer by having readers. I've been a writer since 7th grade when Mrs. Garvey put a poem I wrote in one of the school newsletters. Then there was the time in high school when I won the basketball sectional slogan contest. Our Pirate ship has just come in and with its cargo is a sectional win. On both of those occasions there was someone to read what I wrote.  From 1983 to 2009, I didn't have many readers of anything I wrote.  Without readers, your writing wanes and atrophies and eventually dies. Then came blogging. New life breathed. I'm alive again. I'm a writer with readers. Facebook and Twitter have rejuvenated my spirit. I'm once again an official writer thanks to you for reading.

3. I finally can find friends with similar interests.   I've always had cool friends. I have friends with a variety of interests, talents and backgrounds.  I love them all. Not many of them share all of my interests.  Now I can run a couple of searches on Twitter or just tweet about things I love and like magic I'm surrounded by those that write, run, read, sip wine and try to keep their families together. People like me. They send me articles about stuff I love and teach me to be a better writer, runner, reader, wino, and mom.  That's cool.

I used the word finally in each case completely on purpose.  I say finally because Facebook and Twitter have filled a space that I didn't know needed filled.  Now that the gap has been closed, I realize how important that is. Finally, I feel a little more complete. A little more like the me I like to be.

Now, the darker side of Facebook and Twitter. Why I had to give some of it up.

It's exciting to find something you like. You want to do it more. and more. and more.  Because I still only have 24 hours total in the day. My time with Facebook and Twitter had to come from somewhere. I'm not feeling great about the trades and choices I've made.

So, for the spiritual practice of sacrifice, I'm giving up Facebook and Twitter.

Between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

So, some of you just rolled your eyes. "Wow, big deal, for 3 hours a day, what's the big sacrifice in that!"

6pm to 9pm is family time. This is the time I should be investing into those that should matter most. Not the ones that are easiest to get along with or the ones that post the best comments or the funniest jokes. These are my family, the good, the bad and the ugly.

That's the trap. Distraction into something more interesting, more engaging, but not often the most important. Who doesn't want a diversion from 7th grade homework, or a fight with the hubs? Get me outta here quick. A quick glance at the phone and I'm transformed into an interesting pic of my friend's cat or an article on the best wine to serve with asparagus. Whew, that's way better isn't it?

Is it? ------ Of course not. I'm not an idiot. I'm just distracted.

I've noticed many of my conversations with my husband and kids are not focused conversations. In fact, the girl has begun to resent my iPhone. She sometimes asks for "no phone" time. "Mom, can we watch a movie without your phone or computer?" Ouch. That's the truth smacking me between the eyes.

I still feel great about the top 3 finally reasons above. I want all of those to continue. Not at the sacrifice of those that matter most.

So, "friends" and "followers" for the next 39 days or so, if you want to chat between the hours of 6pm and 9pm eastern, stop by with a bottle of wine or a box of scones. I can't guarantee the bathroom will be clean but we'll be totally invested in our time with you.