I came upon this article today and it hit me, this is why I decided to give up Facebook for Lent:
Police: Couple nurtured virtual child while real baby starved
Now, one could argue that the comparison to this article could be a huge leap. The truth is, there is no real baby behind the virtual infant they were caring for. On facebook, behind the photos and wall posts and status updates, there are real people. So, I have to be careful about drawing too close a comparison between the two. Virtual facebook friends still have bodies, souls, and spirits. I still could meet them in person whereas the couple's avatar baby never has or will exist.
Its not that I'm letting babies die while I play on the computer, but in a similar fashion, I sometimes let face to face friendships wane and real people go unnoticed as I spend hours chatting and reading about "friends" with whom I have little personal contact or never would have crossed paths with again but find their online profiles interesting. I am allowing my real friendships to die off while nurturing my virtual ones, giving them a disproportionate amount of time. Giving up facebook has made the people I see in real life all that more real and encouraged me to foster or re-ignite relationships with people I see or could see frequently. It has allowed me to give them my undivided attention and not be distracted by the draw of the virtual world. It has allowed me more time to play Wii with my neighbor girls, something I've seen pay off as they are now constantly knocking on my door showing me their new passports or asking to come make crafts. It has given me more time and brain power to pray for my upstairs neighbor who came to my party and think of ways to reach out to him. Giving up facebook has been a good move.
So, why is facebook so enticing? It is so much easier to sit in my pjs and chat with multiple people at once, but how much effort it takes to get dressed and out of the house to meet a friend in real life. I would argue that both can be equally fulfilling and the ease of online makes it enticing, but it blinds us to the reality around us.