It’s true. I am.
And I’m okay with that.
That’s not to say I think it’s a good idea to do nothing but sit in front of a screen all day. I don’t. I don’t think that’s healthy any more than I think it’s healthy to chain smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol with every meal or even exercise obsessively. As in all life, there needs to be a balance.
For me personally, I typically have the computer on if I’m home during the day. I’m usually logged into Facebook. To the casual observer it might appear that all I do is hang out on Facebook day in and day out. But it’s not so. I walk an hour every day. I have four kids, three of whom all are dressed and fed every day and make it to school more or less on time. They even get their homework done most days. I have a toddler who has learned how to climb the furniture in order to reach things on high shelves and who has discovered the Temper Tantrum. We run around to extracurricular activities, and we have commitments many evenings. I have my MOPS group and my friends I spend time with and my church commitments and once in awhile I even make dinner. And every now and then, I even do some writing! So even though I’m on Facebook “all the time,” I’m not On Facebook All The Time.
And now that I’ve justified my behavior to say I’m not addicted to the point where that’s all I do every day, I’ll explain why I am addicted and why I’m okay with it.
Facebook is an outlet, my favorite leisure time activity. When I’m free, I like to check in, chat with friends, look in on status updates, and play Castle Age. Like many writers, I can be very introverted. I didn’t always think this was the case. According to many personality profiles, particularly Myers-Briggs, on paper I look like an extrovert. Even in real life many times, people wouldn’t guess that I’m introverted at heart. I’m sociable, outgoing, and peppy. I don’t have a hard time meeting people, joining conversations, or fitting in a group. But I’m introverted. A good friend of mine has made a life-long study of personality types, and in talking to him I have discovered about myself that it isn’t about how I answer questions on a test, it’s how I see the world, process data, and think things through. Despite my outgoing nature, at heart I’m an introvert based on the way I see the world and react to it. (I apologize if the aforementioned friend is reading this and is shaking his head in wonder at how I could mangle his explanations to me, but that’s the simple form of how I “get” his beautifully detailed explanations of my personality type.)
Anyway, after my mother-in-law made that comment, I started to think about it, and think about why I like being on Facebook so much.
It’s the ideal outlet for an extroverted introvert like me.
I get to meet new people and be part of conversations and enjoy all the social aspects of an outgoing personality, but on my own introverted terms. Some of my best friends are people I’ve met online. Some of them I’ve never even met in person, but I enjoy their company and trust them more than many in-real-life friends. Of my in-real-life friends, there are many I enjoy spending time with occasionally, some I enjoy spending time with frequently, a few I enjoy spending time with a lot, and only one (outside family) that I love enough that I don’t mind if she pops over to hang out even when my house is a wreck.
On Facebook, though, I have several friends I talk to regularly. I enjoy our conversations and getting to know them, but one of the best parts is that if I’m busy, I don’t have to respond right away. I don’t have to shoo someone out of my house or drag the baby to a restaurant to meet someone or any of the things that are involved in real-life relationships. Even better, when I’m done being social and need to go hide in an introverted place, or, as is more often the case, when the needs of real life pop up and demand my attention, all I have to do is say, “I need to run,” and log off. Or even stay logged in and just go take care of what I need to take care of.
I love the guild I play Castle Age with. It is a tight-knit group of really delightful people, many of whom are among those close, online friends. I share my life with them, but again, on my own terms and in my own space. We have a group conversation and at any given time at least a few people are online to chat with. Sometimes during battles the chat gets rowdy and hilarious, and it’s like being in a giant party. I love joining in on that and being part of the fun. And sometimes, I don’t love it. Sometimes I need the quiet in my head and can’t keep up, so I don’t join in. It doesn’t mean I care about them less or want to talk to them less, it just means I’m introverted and need some space. And the nice thing is, unlike if I wanted to be unsociable at a party and just sat in a corner nursing a drink and not talking to anyone, I can just not participate in the conversation and no one wonders what’s wrong or if it’s that time of the month for me. I can just be who I am.
So, yes, I’m addicted to Facebook. It’s one of my favorite things. But it’s one of my favorite things because it’s a place that meets the demands of two very different aspects of my personality, and I like it because of that.