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I'm an Associate Professor of English Education. My time is spent preparing to teach, teaching, reading, writing, working with pre-service and practicing teachers, serving on various committees, and trying to keep my office from over flowing into the hallway.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facebook Fast?

I have many friends who post things like,"I'm taking a week off from Facebook, so you won't see me around for a while." Or "Facebook is taking too much of my time, so I'm taking a break. Check you later." Maybe not those words exactly, but something like that. Then last night as I was squinting through tired eyes at my 1000s of feeds in my Google reader, I saw an evangelical preacher's call to take a Facebook fast. Now I don't make a habit of doing what evangelical preachers ask me to do, but I thought this was an interesting challenge. The fact that he issued it on a Wednesday did not escape me. Why not a Sunday, for Pete's sake? It could be so much more easily done on a Sunday. And his challenge wasn't limited to Facebook. It was to Twitter and email and texting and all electronic communication. In the middle of the week, this guy issued an evangelical decree to get up out of our chairs and go talk to people or write a letter on a nice piece of stationary instead of using electronic communication.
That's sweet.
For some odd reason, all day I've been guilty avoiding Facebook--as if it's the source of my sins. In reality, I never had the home addresses of most of the people I'm friends with on Facebook. And really, it's better that I communicate with most people over email. A handwritten letter runs the risk of 1) being illegible, 2) sounding pitiful or harsh, and 3) never reaching the intended because I hardly ever have stamps. Yes, we may be moving into a world where as Tao Lin said "good things can only arrive through email." But I guess the main issue I have with an externally imposed Facebook fast is that it is one more thing to feel guilty about; one more way for someone one else to say that what we are doing is not good, and that certain ruin is to come from it all. Instead, I am going to ask myself, what does Facebook and Twitter and email and texting do for me that is good? Where are the places that it gets in the way? I do see times that I could set better limits on technology in my life, but I also see amazing benefits. So no more guilt over social networking. Let each person decide her own limits and those who need "fast" days get together and free up some bandwidth for the rest of us. 

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