Twice since I deactivated my Facebook account a week ago, I absent-mindedly clicked on the Facebook logo on my desktop, then clicked again when the pre-populated login screen popped up. Instantly, I was on Facebook.
When I decided to deactivate, I made a point of removing the login from my phone because I learned during previous Facebook vacations that my phone did not require my intervention to log in. But my fingers’ automatic behaviors require more training than a simple; I guess they require clunky gloves that restrict their movement.
Except for those mindless logins, which I quickly corrected by deactivating my account again, I’ve been off Facebook for about a week. And that may be enough. I’ve realized during that time that making contact with companies to complain about products or services is, apparently, far easier through Facebook than through the old tried-and-true mans of going to company websites. What ever happened to websites as prime elements of company communications with customers? Or, for that matter, telephones? Everyone says some variation of “contact us on Facebook for more details or to reach our customer care team.” Ach. That shift to Facebook for customer service flies in the face of social media Luddites like me. I suppose I can’t legitimately claim social media Luddism, given that I’m writing a blog post.
I’ve especially missed the regular interaction I enjoyed with a group of “old fashioned” bloggers. I’ve been delighted, though, that some of them have made their way here to comment (pre-Luddism, comments on our respective blog posts were made to our Facebook group, though I was inconsistent and commented both places from time to time).
An interesting aspect of my admitted very brief week-long departure from Facebook is that I’ve noticed that I felt that ties to other people, as well as my lifeline group, seems to have been severed. People I followed just to see what’s up in their lives disappeared. Facebook, it seems, was the only contact I had with some people, even people who live near me. Suddenly, there was nothing. No telephone contact, no email, nothing. That shouldn’t have surprised me, because the only regular contact beforehand had been Facebook. But I had imagined we were in regular touch by virtue of posts, in both directions, on Facebook. Yet these were posts directed not specifically from me to them or them to me but to “everyone out there.” So, it seems, we (or at least I) thought we were communicating, but that was an illusion. Facebook, it seems to me, provides an acceptable stand-in for real interaction. It offers of a means of convincing ourselves and those with whom we “interact” that we are engaging with one another. But are we?
Sometimes. When members of my blogger group on FB engage with one another, we really engage. Our Facebook posts and comments generate conversations the way blog posts once did (and, I admit, still do on occasion). Facebook provides us with a single place to gather, the value of which cannot be overstated. Without a single meeting point, I doubt we would engage the way we do. Facebook, I should add, didn’t create our group to provide that meeting point; it’s simply the tool used by the group’s founder (thank you, Chuck!) to form a cohesive group of like-minded (in many respects) bloggers.
I left Facebook a week ago with the intent to take a break for a while. I didn’t know if it would be a month or a quarter. It turned out, I think, that it will be only a week. It’s now up to me to filter out the crap that made me decide to take a break and, instead, focus only on the very positive aspects of the platform. Later today, I’ll intentionally log in to Facebook to see what I missed. But rather than scroll through the feed, I’ll go directly to my blogger group to see what’s new there. I’ve visited members’ blogs during the last week, so if I missed anything I’ve missed conversations. I feel refreshed.
One thing I accomplished during the last week, despite my break from Facebook, was to contact Lowe’s customer service by email to lodge a complaint about what I considered miserable customer service. My wife ordered a washing machine in October (with a promised mid-November delivery date). When the delivery date came, so did an email saying the delivery had been delayed until the end of the month. And then announcements of more delays, with no explanations. Finally, it was delivered last week, with some quirks in the process. I complained, via email, that a two month delay without even a phone call or an apology was unacceptable. The outcome was an offer of a twenty-percent discount on the machine, refunded to our credit card. I was pleased. Even without going through Facebook to reach customer care, I got some satisfaction. There’s hope for us, still.