Posted by Kim K.
January 2010 marks my two-year love affair with Facebook. I remember the morning clearly. I had taken an early spin class, grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and I came home only to find that my husband had the kids. I had some "free time" and wrote a pretty long e-mail letter to my British camp friends. They immediately told me I needed to sign up for Facebook. And, so having no idea what I was going to be getting myself into, I joined. Within seconds I'm seeing pictures of myself from the '80s dressed up in Rocky Horror theme-pictures that I hadn't seen in 20 plus years-just floating out there in cyberspace. Amazing. Life changing. Who knew?
Facebook. Facebook? Facebook! So here I am, two years later, 638 friends (and probably a dozen unfriends) from my entire span of my life. Where am I going with this?
First of all, like e-mail, Facebook has become a part of my normal day. I usually check it before I leave for work, even if it's for a second. And, if I don't get to it then, I will usually take a peek sometime before 12 when at work. I do make rules for work days: I jump on and off quickly and I don't "sit" on Facebook or I really wouldn't get anything done. On my busiest days at work I don't get on, but I will always always somehow end up on Facebook by the end of the day. Even if it's 10 p.m. My biggest amount of usage is usually starting at 8 p.m. after the kids go to bed. Of course there's the times on the weekends when the kids are watching a movie, my husband is doing something around the house and I find myself sucked into the vortex of Facebook. Two hours pass. Crap. But I have to say I love it. It's become so many things to me: a place to re-connect with camp friends from England, college friends I hadn't seen for years and I am now having lunch with when they come to Chicago, high school friends (those who I was already close with and those who I had drifted from), seeing people's children and their birthdays and vacation and the ability to see pictures of people I haven't seen in person since 1991 or 1985 or even childhood friends, neighbors, elementary school friends (we had a reunion in November 2008 thanks to Facebook), my Bunko friends, people who I have met since I moved to Lincolnshire.
It somehow touches everything. Of course there's the knowledge that such and such is doing this and that as I am an avid Status Updater (and very much enjoy reading Status Updates). One of my favorite functions is IM. I have certain friends where it's become an understood form of communication. Nobody can see or hear and it's a great way to talk without having to pick up the phone.
But, sometimes when my mind drifts (like now at 11:46 p.m. on a Saturday night), I wonder if Facebook has gotten in the way of any potential parenting. I'd like to say no. I'd like to say that I have never been on Facebook when my kids walk in the room, but that would be a lie. They both know what Facebook is. Skype is now a new thing that we are doing with friends and family and my iPhone has become my 3 ¾-year-old's toy. I would like to say that my focus has never been pulled away or that it's something I save only for when they aren't around. I wonder would anything be different if I didn't have Facebook? Would I be less distracted sometimes? Would I only focus on them the same way I did when they were infants (and I wouldn't even look at the mail until they went to bed)? Or, is Facebook just replacing other ways of communicating? Like the telephone. I remember my mom was on the phone a lot. She'd sit in the kitchen and talk on the phone, she would take the phone (long cord) all over the kitchen with her while she packed lunch, ironed, whatever. It never bothered me. It just was. Is that how Facebook is for my kids? It just is. They accept it and that's OK? I hope so, I really do, because most of the people in the world (at least in my world) are present on Facebook.
So, what do you think? Do you think that Facebook is a way to help with parenting? Does it hurt parenting? Is it null and void? I just have been thinking about those questions a lot as I recover from surgery and have been on Facebook more in the past couple of weeks than I have in the past two years.