5 Substitutes for Facebook
Getting back to the old ways
In a previous lens, I talked about how Facebook has some detrimental effects that have convinced me that Facebook is not the greatest platform to keep in touch with friends and family as its intent was. With a user base that is supposedly over 1 billion now, I think that people have largely forgotten about the old ways of communicating which, in my opinion, are a lot more heartwarming and personal than Facebook. For those of you who are trying to get off of Facebook and maybe need some alternate options, this one is for you! And for people like me, who are already off, I hope these 5 techniques of keeping in touch will inspire you to keep up with kin in a more meaningful way. Thank you so much for reading! Hope you enjoy : )
Paper and Pencil
This has got to be one of my favorite ways. The surprise of receiving a letter in the mail with the contents written by hand and the pleasure of taking the time to read and feel the words written on the page are a joy in itself. You get to open the envelope risking a paper cut, instead of clicking a mouse button. You get to feel the indentations on the page where your friend or family pressed the ink to make the words appear, instead of seeing a 2D pictures on a screen. You get to relish in knowing that someone out there values you enough to write more than 140 characters or more than a sentence or two. The best part is that you get to keep something for many years to come knowing that when a time is bad, you will always be able to find that letter again and know that you are loved.
I'll admit, this method of keeping in touch is hard. It would probably be only suitable for your closest friends/family who actually would take the time to read/write back as well. But I believe that it is well worth the time. One of the differences between Facebook and resorting to old fashioned methods is that you can clearly distinguish between true friends and simply acquaintances. You can be sure that a friend who is willing to spend the time thinking and writing to you is a friend you can count in when you are in need. Writing doesn't even need to take place very often; it could be a once a month thing or even a few times a year thing. The matter of the fact is knowing you are worth something to them. Any parenting or dating book can tell you that relationships take effort, time, and sacrifice. Friendship is a relationship so it should be treated just as equally important.
Try this for a test: if you have a Facebook, make a post to those who you think are your truest friends and request for their address to begin writing. How many respond? When they respond, send a letter and see if they reply on Facebook or with another letter. These are the friends that you can truly trust. Once the letters begin, don't quit Facebook quite yet. Keep up writing until you feel confident with your friends who respect your time. Then, perhaps it is time to say adios to those who are not.
Stationary and other Pretty Paper Items
To make letter writing a bit more exciting, try purchasing some pretty stationary to write on. The idea is similar to buying a gym pass when you want to lose weight. It's a motivator, but the effort still has to come from you : )
From the mind of George Washington...
True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.
One of my biggest pet peeves about Facebook is how thoughtlessly people share pictures and other media that could possibly jeopardize their reputation. Often this is from simply sharing a picture that at first thought seems hilarious and no long term consequences are thought. Other times, it is because of friends who tag you in questionable photos. While it is difficult to control what your friends post, one way to control yourself is by sending larger albums of photos instead of instantaneous picture uploads to Facebook.
This substitute for Facebook is for those who mainly use it to share pictures and do very little writing. About once a month (or more/less frequently as you desire), look at all the pictures you have uploaded to your computer hard drive and pick out some of the best ones that you would be willing to share. By looking at the pictures after a length of time, you will have a better understanding of what pictures would be appropriate to share, and what may not be so much appropriate. Take these photos and place them in an online album and share it with people whom you are comfortable with. You could even make separate albums for family, friends, and acquaintances. If you would like to be even more person, consider sending a few photo prints with a letter every month to a close friend who would cherish the memory as you do. Maybe twice a year (or once a year), consider sending family and friends a CD with some of your favorite memories of the year. This method would be fantastic for kin who live far away; they could vicariously be a part of your life through the CD and they would have something to look back at for years to come. You could go even more personal by sending a photo book or a photo album to those who are closest to you. They would love to see the effort you put into sharing pictures that mean a lot to you. The best part would be discussing the pictures later; perhaps with a phone call, you will have meaningful subjects and memories to talk and reminisce over.
The point of this substitute is simply to take some time over photo sharing so that you can be sure that each photo is meaningful to you and that you won't be embarrassed by it later. You aren't trying to brag, but at the same time, you don't want these photos to come back to bite you at a later point in your life. By spending some thoughtful time over album creating, you are ensuring this and you are also showing your friends and family that they are worth your time and thoughts.
These are cheap and small photo albums that can easily be sent in the mail to close family and friends. Enjoy!
The Phone... yeah, that old thing!
Nothing like a good old voice to remember the old times! One of things I've realized since the whole "digital age" is that I've gotten quite bad at talking on the phone. Even when calling up the phone company to complain about my latest bill, I practically never have to speak to anyone with all the "press one for this and press two for that" going on every time I call. There is a certain sense of security that is gained by simply writing instead of speaking. Even more security can arise by writing in short sentences that betray few emotions. The text messaging and tweeting and Facebooking makes this all possible and while we win in brevity, we lose in individuality. In contrast, it is pretty common for us to know when someone tied up by some emotion on the phone because he/she will start to rant. That is, to speak in long sentences forever with great voice inflection. And, yes, drive us crazy.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't really allow for ranting very much which can be both negative and positive. Positive in such a way that we don't have to listen to much ranting. Negative in that we are holding back. As humans, we need a way to express emotion; far too many times, we see the negative effects of holding back emotions by violent outbursts that could potentially hurt others. In fact, many of those whom we call "mentally ill" and who cause great destruction suffer from mental illnesses that prevent them from expressing emotions as easily as "normal" people do. Unfortunately, these people are born into the world like this. While we in some sense are also brought into a world of text messaging and brief messages, we can intentionally choose to partake in more emotional ways of communicating such as using the phone. I will take a brief aside from the point of this article and say that at least if you cannot using the phone to replace Facebook, at least try to use the phone as a complement to Facebook.
My suggested method to using the phone as a replacement would be to work up slowly. First, try sending messages on Facebook and get the phone numbers of your closest friends and see what they think about phone calling once a month. Follow through and make the first phone call. Although the first few phone calls may be short, the learning curve will slowly pass as you get more comfortable learning how to speak your thoughts over the phone with emotions. One day, I believe that you will become stronger for it. Your friendship will grow stronger as you spend more time working on the relationship and you get to know the person more thoroughly. You might also become a stronger person professionally as well, as you learn how to communicate effectively over the phone which can be great when talking to your boss or coworkers in person. When you learn how to express in voice, you will learn how to navigate the world, including all of those who are not on Facebook.
Start a hobby!
This substitute is dealing more with the loss of friends in Facebook. Unfortunately, I think that not all the people who are your friends on Facebook, are not actually true friends (or family). By the time you eventually get out of Facebook, you might find yourself having a bit more time than usually when you have narrowed down your friends to those who are true and left all others with good wishes. To combat the urge to get on Facebook again and spend hours looking at updates and pictures and whatnot, I strongly suggest starting up a new hobby! This is a great idea if you are also trying to reduce the time you spend on Facebook. After all, if you are busy with things to do, you can't get on Facebook! In the module below, I have listed some of my own ideas for hobbies and further down, some lens by Squidoo Masters that have outlined some bucket list ideas.
Try and use these ideas as starters to form a goal. Use the time you get from not being on Facebook to work yourself to this goal. For example, if you have always dreamed of visiting South Africa and don't have the funds to do so, start using the extra time to earn money solely for this trip. Keep a jar for this goal and make the money slowly by doing something you love. Perhaps you love to knit and can sell some of your knitted crafts. Perhaps you like to bake and sell your goodies for a profit. Maybe you like to write and can write lens on Squidoo or even write for a magazine. Think of anything you love to do and see how you can twist it to make it a profitable action. Then after many hours and many days, you will have enough dough to go to South Africa!
Of course, this is just one example. The whole idea is to use the time you would normally spend on Facebook to pursue something you really love and to experience the world. There is so much life outside of Facebook and it's all there for you to enjoy! Take a peek outside and check it out!
Ideas for Hobbies!
This is my list of hobbies that I thought of! Please let me know in the comments section below of others I can add! Hope this list is helpful!
- Reading literature
- Exercising (shave off a few pounds?)
- Window Shopping
- Website Building
- Writing (!!!)
- Movie Watching (and reviewing)
- Stamp/Coin/Other Object Collecting
Book Ideas to get your Hobby Started!
A Cuppa Coffee anyone?
This one is my favorite! Meet your friends in person! It is probably also one of the hardest ones to accomplish as the world becomes more and more globalized and people are further and further apart in distance. One of my fears is that we use Facebook to validate moving away from friends and family and think that Facebook will keep everyone together. I don't think this notion should be valid. We move far away for better opportunities, to make our lives better, to experience new places and things, and for personal gain. But when the day comes to an end, we should remember our kin are those who would be willing to fly across those many miles to see you in good health or poor. Nothing shows a person more love than taking time to meet a person for a quiet (or loud) cup of coffee, just to enjoy company. Many of my friends from high school have left my hometown, yet they always come back for Christmas and when they do, I can always count on them to come out for a cup of coffee to catch up on old times. For me, this is much more healing and fortifying than any update on Facebook. The memories we share over the hot beverage will stay forever while a post on Facebook will last but a few seconds. To see another person face to face, to take in their gestures, expressions, and know that they care is one of the most endearing part of being a human and we should never forget to remember that. Facebook isn't human and sometimes, I fear that our digital self is not very human either. We tend not to post negative things about ourselves online to make the best possible impression and what we really need is someone to accept us both negative and bad. This is what a friend is and you only need but one to fulfill this side of your humanity. Reach out and see what friends are willing to spend an afternoon with you to chat and these friends would be the ones you can count on to be there in the best of times and in the worst of times. These are your friends.