In Defense of Facebook and the Importance of the Mundane

If you've been around here for any length of time you'll know that I juggle staying home with my toddler and working part-time (from home) as well. Given the choice I wouldn't have it any other way. But any mother who says she loveseveryminuteofit is full of it.

Am I happy? Yes. Fulfilled? Mostly. Tired? Almost always. Isolated? Youbetcha. It's entirely possible that days  go by when I don't have a conversation with another adult. A typical morning finds my husband and I exchanging a few schedule- or money-related words over teethbrushing and then hours upon hours of communicating only with a two-year-old. (Me: 'Are you sure there's no poop in your diaper?' Him: Nononono! Nopoopmama'. Me: [checking said diaper] 'I smell a poop'. Him: [running away] 'hahaha'.) The afternoons are likely to bring homework 'conversations' with my eleven-year-old and maybe a few brief words on the phone with whomever is supposed to fix whatever is currently broken in my house. Possibly squeezed in there somewhere there is a discussion of the weather with the supermarket checkout person or an explanation of how I like my coffee at the local coffee shop. But a true conversation? Sometimes it can be days.

I remember a time when I would have turned up my nose at the idea that a conversation about shoes or celebrity gossip was meaningful in any way. I was young and naive and I'm not afraid to tell you that I was wrong. It turns out: not everything is a matter of life or death. Discussions about the details of one's days are the foundation on which friendships are built. Anyone can talk politics or religion with you but it takes a true friend to tell you that you've chosen the wrong lip-gloss color.

But who has time to pick up the phone and mull over such minutia? The stuff of lunch dates or afternoon walks in the park with no place to be are a distant memory. Remember when you had the follow-through to clip that article and stick it in the mail to a friend? (Yes, I used to read print and use the postal service. I'm older than you.)

So I'm going to admit to you here that I love Facebook.

When my first son was young I experienced some postpartum depression. I lived in the middle of a huge city filled with people but I was completely alone. My marriage wasn't strong and my hormones were out of control and I was lonely. My family was supportive but if you've been through the process of becoming a mother you know that connections with others who 'get' what you're going through are crucial for your sanity. I don't mean to skim over this topic and while it certainly warrants (at least) an entire post on it's own, I'm using it here to illustrate a point. Almost ten years later I found myself becoming a new mother yet again. With all of the responsibilities of the first time, and then some. Only this time I communicated with my friends every day. Online.

Yes. You're reading this right. I'm crediting Facebook (and blogging) with helping me to stay out of the deep reaches of postpartum depression.

Am I saying that Facebook has or should replace actual human contact? Obviously not. But face it, we're all busy. Being able to respond when it's convenient for me is the key to actually communicating with my friends. If you've ever called me, you know this. There's just never a good time to talk. But a good time to send off a one line congratulations to a friend's post about a promotion? Easy. Or dash off a note asking for suggestions for dinner ideas to please a picky-eater? No problem. I can even do it with a kid on my lap or Sesame Street on the tube. And like magic I receive a reply and suddenly I'm not alone in it all.

While I'm extremely lucky and consider many of my neighbors to be dear friends, we don't get to choose who lives around us. With Facebook my friends are always close by and I get to grab little peeks into their daily lives. It's those little peeks that help keep me connected, and it's that connection that helps keep me grounded.

So you can make fun of Facebook if you want but I'm keeping my account.

You can avoid Facebook because you've heard it's addicting but I say: addicted to having friends? Sign me up.