Facebook Made Me A Bad Friend

April 23, 2007–that is an important day in my life.

Book some face-to-face friendship time.

That is the day that I joined Facebook (I know this because of Facebook timeline).

Since that time, I have gone from a love to hate to tolerate relationship with the social media tool.

When I first began my relationship, it was only because I was a camp director and all of my college staff were on there and they were not responding to email, but they would respond to a Facebook post or message.

In the past five years, I accumulated more than 900 “friends” on Facebook; but what I was finding out was that Facebook was making me a bad friend.

Because I was “friends” with everyone, the people that I was actually interested in or cared about got lost in the “news feed” of what everyone else was doing.

Two weekends ago, I decided that I was either going to leave Facebook for good or I was going to get it under control.

I started systematically and enthusiastically “de-friending” people. It was therapeutic. It was nothing personal; I just wasn’t truly friends with these people or I didn’t need ongoing updates on their lives (I also assume they didn’t need updates from me).

After 850+ deleting of friends from my Facebook account, I have gotten down to a manageable and more realistic 130 friends (some aren’t friends; they are family, and you have to keep them whether you want to or not).

By doing this, I have given myself the ability to interact with people better.

I am not anti-Facebook or anti-social media, but I do know that I fell into the trap of spending more time in the virtual world of friends than I did in face-to-face interaction and personal contact.

Has this happened to you? Does it happen at your camp? Have we spent so much time focusing on our social media plan that we have forgotten about our social face-to-face plan?

Social media is not a bad thing, but my thought is that if we spend too much time in the virtual world, we might be missing out on the engagement opportunities that are right in front of us.

Do you check your Facebook account more than you spend meaningful face-to-face time with friends? Have you ever checked your Facebook page on your phone during an actual conversation with someone standing in front of you?

I am guilty of both of those things, and that is why I decided to make a change and be a better real friend than a virtual friend.

Dave Bell has directed day and resident camp programs for more than 15 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Camping Services for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. He is a former American Camp Association Southeast Section board member, a certified Y-USA Day Camp Director Trainer and a Y-USA partner YMCA camp consultant. Reach him via e-mail at dbell@seattleymca.org.

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2 comments on “Facebook Made Me A Bad Friend

  1. Travis Allison on said:

    I think that’s a great exercise – very relevant to camp directors who have hundreds of former staff and campers on their “friends” list. That’s what the Subscribe button is for.

    The other thing I’m thinking is to dump all of the pages that I have “liked” along the way – that’s what I find clogs up my newsfeed.

    The flip side – having those camp alumni as friends and changing the settings so I don’t see their updates has meant that I have gotten 2 or 3 photo jobs a year. They see the photos I am posting and want me to be their wedding photographer.

  2. dave bell on said:

    Travis, thanks for the comment and I didn’t mind “defriending” some of the people on facebook because I was already connected with them through Twitter or Linkedin. Besides purging of friends I also “unliked” every page I ever liked. That was definitely overloading my news feed.

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