Why not facebook

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We live in a small suburban city in California with our two teenage kids. All my husband's and my relatives are in China and Taiwan. Lately, our kids' school had a fund raising activity that required us to ask friends and family members for donation. I thought asking friends to buy stuff for fund raising is already very awkward, asking friends for money straight is unthinkable. Family members maybe ok, but our relatives overseas are too far for us to ask for donation. We do have some friends in the US, but I can never bring ourselves to ask them for money, so we decline to participate the fund raising. A about half of our friends in US are parents of other kids. We see one another at school activities or in CostCo and supermarkets, but not much else where. Other friends from college or even earlier are closer and we would call or email once in a while (vary from once a year to once several years) if they are out of town or invite them over for parties if they live in the area. Most of the time during the time, we live our simple life with just the four of us. On some major holidays, we are still home having our quiet "staycation". Maybe once a year, if our teenage kids feel like it, we would invite friends over for a party. We would be invited to parties once or twice a year in return.

   Our life is probably too lonely for some people, but we cannot afford much more time for social than this. We are busy with work and kids are busy with school. I am often secretly glad that I don't live in my home country like Taiwan where all my relatives and friends from childhood are there. On weekends and major holidays, I will be obligated to visit family members or some family members would definitely be doing something that requires everybody's participation. Or your college or high school or even middle school and elementary school classmates are having a reunion this weekend. Whenever you are attending
gatherings like that, you might need to shop or prepare presents to bring. I probably will never be able to dream of a quiet weekend or holidays just staying home and doing things I want to do or just doing nothing. I don't mean that I don't like to see my family in Taiwan more often, but no matter how much you like them, one still needs time to be alone and does things that you can only do when you are alone, such as reading and if you are in the habit, writing, house chores, hobby, going through notices from kids' school or any work for your heart's desire. We need the quiet time from time to time to sink in and reflect what life is granting us, and not just keep on talking and interacting with people. I would go mad.

   For the same reason, I don't regularly talk to friends. I think about them during the major holidays and may send them greeting emails or even cards once a year. In fact, if I talk to some of them more often than this, I won't have very much to say. For the friends whom you see often, like your co-workers or parents of other kids at the same school, at least you will have common topics to talk about. If I have to write to my high school friend whom I haven't seen for decades every week, I would run out of topics after at most 3 weeks.

   When facebook first came along, I guess people were exhilarated to re-connect with long lost friends. After the initial excitement wore out, two sad phenomena started to arise for the not the most popular normal people. One, your long lost friends have their own closer circles of friends. Most of your friends' updates are really meant to be read by their closer friends. You find that you either can't break in to the conversation or are just not interested. Second, we started to use the number of likes to measure how much attention our friends have paid us and are disappointed sometimes to see so few likes, while others get hundreds of likes with an update. That is, even with all the friends you have on facebook, you inevitably feel very lonely for the scanty likes you are getting. A bi-product of this likes measure of popularity is that sometimes you feel obligated to like others' updates just so you might get some in return which just brings yourself busy work for reading all the random updates from your connections that are not even relevant. Then, one day you realized that all this work is too much for nothing and you started to miss the old fashion joy of talking to your far away friends only once a year or several years. You seem to cherish them more when you significantly reduce the interaction.

   If on the other hand, you are the popular one on facebook, that will be like living in the same town where you grew up with all your friends from kindergarten through college and all your family, relatives around you constantly 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. How can one find anything to talk about to these people all the time and still able to do their own things? Unless you are a writer and your friends are your readers. I know
I am not a writer (at least not yet), and I don't really have that much time for social, so I gave up on facebook. If my friends want to talk to me, they will have to go back to the old way of emailing, calling or writing me a letter.