In an ideal world, I am a girl who is a complete book worm who indulges in book after book across many genres and languages. In that world, I would write my thoughts in my notebook and have very intelligent conversations when I am out and about. In that world, I would spend my time absorbing every bit of knowledge that I can via different channels – books, podcasts, interesting articles online, etc.
But in the real world, I find myself prefer sitting on Facebook reading updates about my friends’ lives and people’s tweets about xyz. I suffer from social media guilt.
As a child, I fit in my vision of the ideal world. Before I discovered the wonder that is Internet, I happily spent my childhood with my head buried in books while other girls of my age played with Barbies. But once I discovered the World Wide Web, the time I devoted to books have declined. And once I discovered instant messengers – forget it, my life as I knew it changed forever.
Back in the days, people who spent a large sum of time online were seen as strange social recluses up to no good. And since the advent of Facebook, there are people who often have the “holier than thou” attitude because they don’t take part in Facebook or other social network, or if they do, they adopt that same attitude toward people who use it “too much”. Since I do enjoy sharing my thoughts and happenings of my life with my friends, I fall into the “active user” group of Facebook; those holier than thou people somehow had managed to make me feel guilty.
Beyond Facebook, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, I face another group of people who makes me feel guilty – those who like to stay disconnected from the outside world. I enjoy sharing my experiences and being connected to others, and thus I cherish the ability to stay online. I am slowly getting over feeling guilty since I did leverage the online connectivity to raise $11,500 for my Books For Cameroon project.
Seeking a healthy balance between a life online and offline is very important, but I am realizing that I have absolutely no reason to feel guilty. Just because you are off-line and not spending your time on social networking sites does not mean you are “having a life”. In fact, being off-line can mean that you are not making vital connections with people who can help you advance in life. Closing yourself from social networks can mean shutting yourself from important opportunities. I am not about to let that happen to me.
After all, in the real world, it’s often about who you know and not what you know. Going back to my scenarios in the beginning – if I lived in my ideal world, I would be wicked smart and have no connections and therefore no stellar opportunities. Where as in the real world, I may only have average knowledge, but with all the “friends” I’ve made via Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn, etc., I will go much further! So to all those “holier than thou” people, you may want to rethink your disposition the next time you want to make someone feel bad about spending time on Facebook.