Why I disabled my Facebook account

Thinking of disabling my Facebook account. It is entirely too easy to not talk to my wife in lieu of reading her wall. #stupidfacebook
6:10 PM Oct 3rd from web

@RobertGonzalez

A couple of weeks ago I disabled my Facebook account. I also audited some of my accounts on other social networking sites and either disabled those or deleted them altogether. I have also started to cull my following list on Twitter.

So what prompted these actions, you might ask? The honest answer is… my marriage.

It became clearly evident, shortly after my wife joined Facebook, that my use of social networking was becoming a huge problem for us. What made this so evident was how easy it became to converse with my wife over wall posts and post comments as opposed to real conversations. We stupidly sat in the living room together, commenting on each other’s wall posts and replying to each other’s comments. And when we weren’t communicating with each other on Facebook we were ignoring each other altogether as I sat and Twittered or posted to my Facebook friends’ walls and my wife did the same thing with her Facebook friends.

The saddest aspect of all this was that I had never seen that I was doing this until I saw my wife doing this with me. She joined Facebook in June, and while she has only been on it for a couple of months I have been Facebooking for years. I have been Twittering for over a year. I have been keeping up with people through their blogs for years. I have been involved in forums for almost six years. If you look at it, I have traded relationship with my wife for interaction with strangers for upward of six years.

I chose to make myself available to people I would never meet, in whose lives I would really never have any meaning and whose lives really had no significant meaning to me while at the same time choosing not to put any time, effort, energy or expressed interest into the one relationship that should have taken the highest priority in my life. I have made many connections with other women, some married, some unmarried, and have put myself in a position of “caring friend” to them. And while I am sure that these women needed a caring friend I should not have been that friend. My wife needed that caring friend just as bad as the next lonely woman, she needed me more than any other person could have needed me, yet I never took the time or had the inclination to offer myself to her.

Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking sites… even email, allowed me to spend time I should have spent with my wife, with someone or something else. I spent time getting to know other people. I spent time building relationships with complete strangers. I spent time spending time apart from my wife, even when I was within physical proximity to her.

The truth is, anything that allows a married couple to not spend time with one another while harboring an air of developing relationships with others is just plain bad for your marriage. Facebook definitely fits into this category. So does Twitter and every other social networking site.

By their nature, social internet networks are designed to bring people together with or for a common cause or idea or ideal. While this is not a bad thing, in my opinion, it is terrible if you are substituting a real relationship for virtual ones. Yes, I was doing that. No, that can never be good for your marriage. And no, it wasn’t good for mine.

Your spouse should be the most important person in your life. And if your intimacy and relationship with your spouse is suffering then you need to do whatever you can to feed it. In my case, I needed to starve my Facebook relationships and Twitter relationships in order to feed my marriage. And I’d do it again if the need ever arose.

So you may notice that every couple of days my “following” count on Twitter goes down. If I currently follow you and then one day I am not following you anymore, understand that my marriage has to come first. It is nothing personal. I just need to protect my marriage.

And will I ever make it back to Facebook? I don’t know. For now I am sticking to the idea that I am only gone for the time being. How long that time is depends entirely on how long it takes me to feed my marriage, which has starved for far too long. I may never make it back on there. And if I don’t, I’m fine with that. To me, what is most important is that my marriage is nurtured and that my wife knows, without a doubt, that she is so much more important to me than some website.

Until then, if you really have to keep up with what is going on with me, my family or things that I notice around me, you’ll just have to come here to find out if I have mentioned anything. But you can be certain of one thing: I am pouring myself into my marriage now like I used to pour myself into Facebook, Twitter and every other thing I let take the place of my marriage.

For the men: If you notice your marriage starting to take a downward turn take a look at what you might be spending your time on other than you marriage. Your marriage is your most important relationship you could foster. Make sure to treat it that way. Your wife needs your gentleness, intimacy, strength, your concern and your heart. Give it to her, gladly, and sacrifice whatever else you need to in order to allow your marriage to flourish.

For the women: Though I feel horribly unqualified to tell you anything as a man, I can tell you that when it comes to your marriage, your husband needs to know that he is the most important person to you just as much as you need that from him. Pay attention to what you are putting your heart into and where your time is being spent. Your husband needs your intimacy (not sexual intimacy but emotional intimacy) like you need his. Be cognizant of this, and be ready to offer to him whatever you can to show him he is just as important to you as you know you are to him.

Online friends can be real cool

I have a friend named Charles Thompson that I met through the PHP Developers Network forums. After some exchanges on the forums he and I struck up a more professional online buddyship, including friending each other on Facebook. We also chat. A lot.

So it goes without saying that Charles should be entitled to a little write up on my little corner of the intarwebs. Afterall, we have chatted about marriage, PHP, programming, c, c++, college, motorcycles… you name it. Chances are pretty good that whatever subject you can think of it has more than likely been brought up. We have sent each other comments on Facebook, have exchanged ideas on forums, have even reviewed each other’s designs and blogs trying to get opinions.

In short, Charles is an online friend that is real… cool. I have never met him, never spoken to him, never heard his voice. But we have communicated for quite some time now and have spent early mornings and late nights chatting about all sorts of stuff. He is a cool dude.

Of course I rarely make it a point to talk about anyone unless it is my wife, my kids or the president. Sometimes I talk about a group of people – like the police or congress or Christians or geeks – but it is the rare occasion in which I single one person out for discussion.

So why does he get his own write up on my blog when I have other, real life friends that have not gotten theirs? Well, the answer to that is simple.

He asked me. 🙂

Courting Twitter

A few months ago I started following Ron Sylvester on Twitter because I thought what he was doing was incredibly interesting. What I found so interesting about what he does is that he actually live tweets from various trials and court hearings in Kansas. So even if you cannot be there you can still get almost up to the minute readings of the transcripts of the proceedings.

Up until a few days ago I thought nothing of it. That is until I ran across an article talking about potential legal implications of tweeting from within a court hearing:

The BBC reported that the verdicts in two US trials are being appealed against because of comments about them on social networking sites made by jurors. Jurors are forbidden to discuss anything relating to a case outside the courts, but experts believe that the emergence of new technologies is challenging the rules.

In the two cases, defence lawyers say that postings by jurors on sites such as Twitter and Facebook could be grounds for appeal. In one case in Philadelphia, juror Eric Wuest admitted posting comments about proceedings on Facebook, such as telling people to expect “a big announcement on Monday.” Wuest maintained that they were his private musings, and the judge resisted calls from the defence to remove him from the jury.

You know what? I have no response for this. Reading through a lot of what was stated in that article, it made sense that jurors tweeting about the case they are appraising seems almost not right to an extent. I also got to thinking about Ron Sylvester and the potential implications he could face if his tweets were ever to be called into question on the grounds that they could be steering someone toward an opinion. Of course I dismissed that thought rather quickly when I realized that court hearings are reported on very often and that people will make their own assumptions and develop their own opinions without the need for outside help.

But still, I can’t help but wonder if someone closely related to a case was somehow spilling information about the case, the trial or the deliberations if that couldn’t somehow become grounds for a mistrial or even a complete dismissal. I would hope that would never happen.

But with information being generated and disseminated faster and faster these days, perhaps there is no way to stop it from happening. Perhaps there is a chance that someday the rapid spread of information like this could somehow be used to help try cases or even conduct the hearings? Probably not likely to happen.

If for no other reason than because Twitter will likely crash under the use and call its star witness…

Twitter fail whale