I’ll be the first to admit that I am on Facebook way too much. I don’t post a lot (I’m too private), but as an author and a Catster writer I am required to promote my writing and my books. And (as it should), Facebook suddenly and subtly turns into So Much More.
We made a big cross country move last year. I love where I live, and I am meeting a lot of great people. But meeting trusted friends takes time. A lot of time. I miss my friends I left behind. Suddenly, I am staying connected with old friends via Facebook. That is one of its purposes, after all, but something about it feels a little strange to me and not quite right. To me, time spent exclusively with cats can seem much more real than time spent on Facebook.
Life was certainly different when there wasn’t so much of an online world.
Maybe this is where I should turn my attention to my cats. My cats seem to always ground me and help me feel more sane. They are the one constant in life, and they are real. If I can’t have coffee with a real, in-person girlfriend, at least I can play with a real cat. There’s something pure about the interaction. As I write this, I am of necessity working in a library, and wishing I was home with my cats. Even when Zorro drapes himself across my keyboard, at least he’s there. At least I have something real to touch, real Ragdoll blue eyes to look into, a furbaby to croon to.
Here’s how else Facebook feels weird for me?
This is the idea that posed pictures, and/or notes or descriptions, make life seem great or better than usual. There’s certainly nothing wrong with celebrating positivity, but sometimes it all feels like a bit much. When I saw people refer to this online, I was instantly interested. It nailed something that had been bothering me but that I couldn’t identify. I found these things bumming me out. I’m well aware that this is my stuff. Why does XXX’s selfie look so great? Why does XXX have such a beautiful house? I can’t take a good selfie. How on Earth does XXX have the time to prepare such a beautiful plate of food? Blah blah blah! I didn’t realize I was capable of such jealousy.
I posed a pic once of a glass of wine, local maple syrup, and apples we’d picked from across the street. Naturally, it got a ton of likes. I felt a little funny about it, though.
On the other hand, I post plenty of cute pics of my own cats. Could this be my version of a Facebook effect? Maybe. But it’s strange that cat pics feel utterly genuine, and I feel completely happy about posting them. There’s something about bringing “cat” into the equation that makes Facebook suddenly seem more authentic.
I never knew what people meant when they said that Facebook reminded them of high school. Then one day, I found myself “liking” something, and I realized that my motives were driven by the need to appear cool. Uh oh. This was enlightening. I felt a little weird about that action, and I undid the “like.” But it’s easy for me to see how strange (and often divisive) things can get. Facebook and online communication provide instantaneous ways to communicate, and the emotions can ratchet up quickly. As in any communication, there’s potential for good and potential for divisiveness. It just seems amplified, sometimes, in a medium like Facebook.
It’s interesting how Facebook makes me aware of thoughts and behaviors I’m not necessarily crazy about. One the other hand, when I play with my cats, or love my cats, I feel like a better person (than I might feel on Facebook).
When I play with my cats, I am loving cats, without worrying about likes, pictures, and all the other stuff that we humans bring to Facebook. Obviously, playing with your cats gets you (and them) moving — always a good thing. Too much time at the computer drains me and puts me in a strange place.
I won’t give up Facebook. It’s intertwined with the personal and professional things that I do. But I am grateful for my own human quirks that Facebook has made me aware of. And I am going to challenge myself to limit my time on it to two (short) times a day. That will give me more time to play with and love up my cats!
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think you spend too much time on Facebook? Do you find it an odd environment?
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About Catherine Holm: Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.