A Social Media Experiment

According to Facebook, my activity for the last few days:

On Dec 29, I posted on my own timeline  6 times.  I commented on 19 posts.  I liked 7 posts.

On Dec 30, I posted on my own timeline 2 times.  I commented on 14 posts.  I liked 15 times.

On Dec 31, I posted on my own timeline 4 times. I commented on 15 posts.   I Liked 11 posts by others.

On Jan 1, I posted or shared 4 times on my own wall.   I commented on 12 posts. I liked 4 posts by others.

On Jan 2, I shared 2 comics to my wall.  I commented on 7 posts, I liked 7 posts.

Jan 3, I posted a birthday wish to a relative.  I made 1 comment.  I liked 2 posts.

Jan 4, nothing.

Jan 5, No timeline posts, 1 comment, no likes.

Jan 6?  Nothing.

Jan 7? Nothing

Jan 8?  Nothing

Jan 9? Nothing

Jan 10? Nothing

Jan 11?  A question on a business page.

Jan 12?  So far, another question on a different business page.

Between Dec 25 and Dec 31, 26 posts, 73 comments and 53 likes, for a total of 152 Facebook interactions for 7 days.

From Jan 1 until Jan 11, 8 posts, 21 comments, and 13 likes, for a total of 42 Facebook interactions for 11 days.  And 6 of those days I did not post anything.  I did send a couple of private messages to people.  I continued to play my Facebook games, but my game posts are set to me only, so they shouldn’t have showed up on my timeline.

I don’t believe I have ever gone that many days without posting on Facebook before.

Now, why did I suddenly stop my normal Facebook activity?  I got curious.

I was listening to news a few days ago.  On Wednesday, Dec 28, a young woman was live-streaming to Facebook when she evidently had some kind of seizure or heart attack and died.  Her toddler was present.  Her family said that over a thousand people were watching as their daughter died, and no one did anything about it.  She was at a friend’s house, and not found until the friend came home, some 30 minutes later.  According to the reports that I heard, although the screen had gone dark when she dropped the phone, the audio was still on.  You could hear her struggling to breathe, with the child crying in the background, until you can’t hear her breathe anymore.  The friend who found her was the one who turned the live stream off.

I thought about that.  I wondered – I have 491 friends listed on Facebook.  What would happen if I suddenly, without warning, disappeared?  Some of my other friends have gone dark, but they have usually given notice first – let their friends know that they were going to not be posting for a while.  I watch for them, and a few days later, they are back.

But what would happen if, without any notice, someone stopped posting?  Would anyone notice? If they did, how long would it take?  What would they do about it?  Anything?  Would they ask me if I was OK?  Would they comment on my wall?

One of my posts at the end of December I talked about the fact that I was climbing on a very shaky ladder, and I wished someone was with me in case it fell over.  I am a fairly solitary person.  I live out in the country, and while I have family living nearby, we don’t interact on a daily basis.  If I were to fall or hurt myself, how long would it take before anyone would notice my absence?

I decided to go dark on Jan 2.  I realized on Jan 3 how hard that would actually be – I was still reading Facebook.  There were so many things that I wanted to comment on, that I wanted to like.  I was tagged on posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t.  I wanted to share things.

I had not realized until this past couple of weeks how much I use Facebook to feel connected to people.  I don’t talk to people on a regular basis – and Facebook has become my substitute for casual conversation.  So many times this week I would have a thought and I would think “Oh, I need to post that” and then stop myself.  Facebook is my social connection.  Without Facebook, almost all of my conversation would be one-sided.  I talk to whoever on Facebook might be listening (or rather, reading) rather than talking to myself.  Sometimes, thru comments, I can have extended conversations that might last for a couple of days.

And I wonder how many others use Facebook for their primary social outlet.

And what happens when they no longer are posting?  Are they sick?  Are they depressed?  Are they suicidal?  Are they hurt?  Have I even noticed?  And if I have noticed that someone isn’t posting as much, have I ever asked about them?  Have I checked on them?

I have, actually, once or twice.  More likely, I don’t even notice.  If something isn’t on my feed at the time that I am on it, I never read it.  It is easy to miss postings by people.  And thus, it is easy to not be aware if someone stops posting.   I do, occasionally, go to a friend’s page to check on things.  But  with 491 Facebook friends, I’m not going to go to every single page to see what I might have missed.

Something else I realized these last few days – since I wasn’t using Facebook as a social outlet, I got more things done at home.  I cleaned more.  I painted.  I read.  Even when I don’t comment on things, I avidly read what comes across my feed.  I can spend hours and hours just reading Facebook.  This week, to help keep myself from posting, I haven’t been reading as much.  And that has meant that I have had more time to do other things.  I have thrown away things, put away things, decided to discard things.  I’ve researched, written – in general, I have accomplished more in this last week than I have in a while – and mainly because I haven’t been glued to my computer all evening.

So, this experiment of going dark has taught me a couple of things – that I am almost dependent on Facebook for my social interaction.  And with less Facebook, I got more things done at home. This experiment has also made me wonder how observant I am of my Facebook friends.  How many times have I not noticed when someone simply quit posting from Facebook?  And what would do if I did notice someone’s absence?

And did anyone of my 491 Facebook friends notice that I was no longer posting or commenting on things?  One person private messaged me on January 5th.  Another person private messaged me on January 7th.  Both of them had noticed my absence from Facebook, and asked me if I was alright.

But this experiment also taught me how solitary I really am.  If something were to happen to me – if I ever fell and hurt myself, had a stroke, whatever – it would be days before anyone came to check.

 

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