On again, off again

Facebook is a friend I liken to cocaine.

I don’t need it – but I really, really, really want it. It could be hazardous to my health. I know it’s increased my heart rate on more than four occasions.

We all know by now the tale of this social media cornerstone’s rise to greatness. God bless that nerdy boy from Harvard.

Meanwhile (well, shortly thereafter), I was in college when Facebook was only available to college students. I don’t remember which became popular first, but it rivaled Myspace.com. The difference was “no high schoolers” were invited to the Facebook party – and we certainly didn’t worry about prospective employers, mothers and coworkers ruining the show.

I was in lust.

I made a page, posted two or three photos and checked my shiny new Facebook account maybe once a weekday. It was a way to prime the lines of communication with people – let them know you think they’re cool, pretty or downright intriguing enough to be in your life without running the risk of rejection. Facebook was basically a messaging service to me in those days.

Fast forward a half-decade and you’ve got this: a messaging service that shares photos of you in compromising situations, furthers spats between family members and – if you’re weak like me – cannot be resisted. Oh, and it comes with a cell phone application.

I deactivated my account shortly after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot. I had violated my own rule of no politics on Facebook and got a friend riled up … so riled up, in fact, he went beyond politics and launched a personal attack, one that went beyond Facebook and straight to cell phone text messages. It was at that time I first realized how Jerry Springer-like Facebook can be: happy on the outside, but yearning for chaos deep down inside.

I returned to Facebook a day or two later. I had decided my friend actually hadn’t been my friend for a long time, and Facebook was not the main culprit. Some people just turn weird. Anyway, needing Facebook also played a role in my return. I needed to share photos of my daughter; I needed to post a status reflecting my mood; I needed to make sure family members weren’t embarrassing me.

Or so I thought.

For a time, my return was triumphant – everything I’d hoped for, in fact. But all the while, my addiction was growing stronger … the Facebook application for the new Droid phones? Awesome. I couldn’t put my phone, which had actually become a portable version of my Facebook-dominated home computer, down long enough to live my life.

I deactivated my account again in August partly for this reason. This time, however, I stayed gone – it was Facebook I was avoiding, not a specific lunatic. And amazingly, things started getting done around the house. I made my bed. I got Kalista’s clothes ready the night before school. Clean dishes didn’t stay in the dishwasher until the sink no longer had room for their filthy cohorts.

I was a real person again.

Alas, I rejoined Facebook for good Sept. 14, 2011, after a weekend with my old friends in New York showed me I was perhaps the only person addicted to Facebook. They weren’t checking their news feed, updating their status or posting photos every 12 minutes. Actually, I didn’t see Facebook one time when I was home.

I have decided that depriving myself of Facebook is not fair to my friends. Some of them actually worship my Facebook page like Mormons do Joseph Smith. They wait patiently for my photos, statuses and blog posts. I hate the thought of their fingernails being bitten to the cuticle.

I can be a responsible Facebooker. I can use it to let people know I’m alive without telling them when I poop, wash my hands and poop again. I can have Facebook without it having my life. 

I think, anyway.

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