Thoughts on a Facebook-less week.

It’s been a week without Facebook, and I’ve only missed it twice.

I’m not feeling the FOMO I thought I would, perhaps because whenever I spent more than 10 minutes there, I started to feel a little sick, like when you stay up until 3 a.m. watching TV and eating junk food. You know it’s awful for you, you know it’s making you feel bad, but you also can’t figure out how to stop yourself.

I never felt happier after spending time on Facebook. To be fair, I don’t feel happier after spending time on Twitter, but I spent less time there this past week. I am pretty sure I spent more time on Instagram, but some of that was for The Thunderbeat, and some of it was actually taking the time to watch more stories. (Stories are fun!)

This morning I watched the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” and while I approach any documentary with a critical eye, it was hard for me to be hyper-critical of this one. I don’t want to give too much information here, lest I sway an opinion about the documentary’s merits. But through interviews with former tech executives and employees, it does give context to these platforms that have figured out how to monetize public division and control how we spend our time.

For me, the question I’ve yet to fully answer is this: how do I maintain relationships with people who no longer live nearby? How do I maintain relationships with people I actually *met* on these platforms?

I moved around a lot as a kid, and the friends I left behind would send a letter, maybe two, in the months right after my departure. And I’d write back, but eventually we would all move on with new friends and new lives, and drop from each others’ existence. I have often thought of military kids today, and how envious I am of their online social structures that help them maintain those relationships.

I guess the answer to my question is that I have to decide which relationships are worth maintaining. And then I have to choose to do the work to maintain them. Emails, postcards, *gasp* phone calls, text messages–it’s not like I actually need any given platform to help me maintain and strengthen any friendship. If anything, Facebook especially has given us the illusion we are maintaining relationships by giving us curated peeks into our friends’ and families’ lives.

But really, it’s just made us disengaged voyeurs.

I Quit Twitter For A Week And You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next!

Last Saturday I spent the morning and evening learning from three women who serve at the global level of my church’s leadership. They each gave me quite a bit to think about, including the encouragement to reevaluate how I spend my time.

One of the suggestions was to embark on a social media fast, however that might look in my world. I thought about how I use social media and decided I could probably live without Twitter for a week. It may not have looked like I was absent from Twitter, because my Instagram posts are tied to my Twitter account, and I wanted to keep writing my six word stories there. And this is the third year I’ve posted a Friday Morning Soundtrack to Twitter, so I allowed myself that.

But other than that, I was off Twitter. I wasn’t scrolling and scrolling through my Twitter timeline, clicking on links and getting wrapped up in drama. Instead, I used that time to work on relearning French. I used that time to read. To write. To nap.

I didn’t track how I felt throughout the week, but by Friday at lunch, I realized I wasn’t nearly as fatalistic about my future as I have been in recent months. So I take that as a win.

I hopped back on Twitter today. The first thing I saw was reports of Rudy Guiliani telling Chuck Todd “Truth isn’t truth!” (WHAT?!?!?) The second thing I saw was a series of retorts regarding a comedian’s insulting joke about Mormons (I mean, I’ve heard them all, but get some new material already).

I saw threads of tweets in which people were sharing rejection stories, which really was comforting to read, but other than that, I didn’t see much that inspired me. And to be fair, I don’t see a whole lot of inspiration on Facebook or Instagram either, but since I wasn’t completely avoiding those platforms all week, the effect wasn’t as stark.

I will still check in on Twitter from time to time. I’ve ratcheted back my Facebook use this past year, and am really only there because of a couple of groups I just won’t leave. I don’t follow enough people on Instagram to get too sucked into it.

I always tell people social media platforms are what we make them. I could unfollow people on my Twitter account and see if that improves the experience, but I think I’ll just keep it as is and visit a little less.

I will probably be a little happier, have a little more hope, as a result.


An Experiment.

I’ve had quite the relaxing summer. No major trips, no classes, no conferences. Just movies, binging on TV shows, reading books, and listening to podcasts. It’s been great, save for one bad habit that just got worse: Facebook.

I realized how much time I was spending on Facebook when I admitted to a friend that sometimes I spent my time watching Facebook the way I would watch a movie or TV show–just constantly refreshing the feed to see what people we reading, seeing, doing with their lives.

So I decided that after my birthday, I would go on a Facebook hiatus and see what I could accomplish. Today was the first day of that–the last time I looked at Facebook was at 10 a.m. Here’s what I’ve done in that time:

  • Met a friend for lunch.
  • Worked on my book for two hours.
  • Visited with a former student at Starbucks.
  • Watched a movie.
  • Read 80 pages of a book that is due back to the library on Thursday.

And now it’s 7:30 p.m., and I need a break from reading so I’m going to go for a walk. When I get back, I will scan in some ads I’ve been collecting throughout the summer, to use in my Popular Culture Studies class, then plan out the rest of my week, do some yoga, and go to bed.

I’m interested to see how much I get done this week (and perhaps next) without falling into the time suck that is Facebook.

That Evil Facebook…

In reference to my previous post: the other high school in our district is scheduled to complete the state writing test this week. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, to be exact. Yesterday, an ice storm resulted in ridiculous absenteeism at our building–I can only imagine it was the same across town. Today, school was canceled as we expected significant snowfall. I just received word that tomorrow is canceled due to wind chill factors of -25 to -35.

Moral? Winter doesn’t like State testing anymore than I do.


Are you on Twitter? Do you follow @mashable? You should. Sure, sometimes Pete Cashmore’s social media news aggregator tweets links and articles that don’t have much to do with education, but every now and then, an article like this comes along.

I wrote my master’s thesis about this exact issue. I retweeted the article, and a former student asked, “”What’s your take?”

Well, my dear former student, you asked a question that requires more than 140 characters, so here goes.

Four years ago, as I was conducting preliminary research for my thesis, I knew exactly how I felt about this issue. Students shouldn’t be punished for online speech created after school hours, off school grounds.

The courts don’t seem to provide much guidance–most of the cases I read were split. Some judges find for the adults, some–presumably judges with a clear idea of First Amendment protections–find for the students.

Part of the problem is the precedent set by previous Supreme Court cases involving students invoking the First Amendment–Tinker v.Des Moines, Bethel v. Fraser, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, and most recently, Frederick v. Morse. After Tinker, each case has limited student expression, but each case also involved expression on school grounds or at school events. Judges use these cases to buttress their opinions that student speech should be monitored–24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However, the root of the problem is that few people teach proper use of online expression. We aren’t teaching restraint. We aren’t teaching that once something is posted online, it is archived and retrievable forever. And honestly, many adults aren’t much better than the kids with this–otherwise, the National Labor Relations Board wouldn’t have had to rule that Facebook wall posts are free speech. 

People who compare Facebook wall posts to notes passed in the hallway are using faulty logic–when I wrote notes to my friend Jen about our government teacher’s annoying repeated phrases, no one else saw it. If I had posted it to Facebook, it would have been seen by all my friends and possibly copied into a text message and sent to the entire student body. It’s not the same.

I’m not advocating for an all-out ban, nor am I advocating that teens have unlimited access. But we need to teach them how to use the tools available to them. 

And then we need to practice what we preach.

How Facebook Helped Me Grade

I’ve neglected keeping track of how many hours a week I work, because I know I’ve been beyond my 60 hour weekly limit I set for myself. 

But not last week. 

On Saturday, I slept in.  I read the paper and watched two episodes of Alias.  I went to the Scholastic Book Fair and picked up 20 books for my classroom.  I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up Candy Cane Joe-Joes–all these trips in a blizzard, mind you.  I visited my parents, and went to their church Christmas party.  And then I came home and finished a book I’d been reading for a while.

Sunday, I went to church.  Then I came home and watched Steven Sondheim’s birthday celebration that I’d been saving on my TiVo.  I talked to my sister, practiced the piano, and by 6:30, I realized I needed to get some work done.  But I also needed some motivation.

So I posted on Facebook: “if I grade my research papers holistically instead of marking every teeny mistake, how many will I finish by 10 tonight? Magic Christmas Fudge goes to whose guess is closest. And yes, I will ship. But I’m not making it until this weekend.”

And people placed their bets.  Some low-balled me a little (my nephew said 9) and some had enormous faith in me (one friend said 25).  But every time I felt like giving up, I’d look at what my friends thought I could do, and I’d grade one more.

By 10 PM, I had graded 18 research papers.

Now that’s the power of social media.