This is from 2009. I am sad to report that it is still true.
Vices. All moms have them. For my grandmother, who reared her children in the 1950s, it was cocktails and "pep pills." For my mother, whose children were young in the 1970s, it was Marlboro Reds and Oreo cookies scarfed down with her head hiding between open kitchen cabinets while she pretended to put away dishes. For Gen X moms, it's arguably Facebook (and possibly the 50 Shades of Gray book series).
Like an obsessive stalker boyfriend who starts out friendly enough and later becomes impossible to avoid, and at the same time is attractive and addictive, Facebook draws you in. "What are you doing right now?" it asks. "What are your favorite books?" "What five people deserve a punch in the face?" I want to answer all the questions and placate the Facebook demon but know that there are better ways to spend my time.
For me, the low point came a couple of weeks ago when my children were bouncing around my feet like little jumping beans, clutching their empty bellies and begging for dinner — and I put off cooking for them to complete a quiz called, "Will You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse." In case you are wondering, I will be one of the first to die, but not before realizing the horror of the situation.
I have spent some time while driving recently contemplating the appeal of Facebook. It started as a social networking program for teens and college students, but now hordes of older people (like myself) have joined in.
Because of our fast-paced, child-centered parenting these days, it's hard to find time to be with friends without the kids. I think we love Facebook because it's possible to check in a few times a day and see what everyone is up to without having to rearrange schedules for face-to-face meetings. It also breaks up the monotony of housework and child rearing for a snippet of adult time. And those quizzes and games are just too much fun. Who cares that my mouse hand is starting to resemble a shriveled claw from all that clicking?
What is a parent to do? I am forever lecturing my children of the importance of self-control and limiting screen time. I fear that I often limit their screen time so I can have more of it myself. Is the lesson they're receiving a positive one? That it's acceptable to eschew human contact for superficial status updates? Do as I say, not as I do?
I have been considering detoxing from Facebook, or just becoming a lurker for a while. I ask myself if I really believe anyone cares what songs make me cry, or what I am thinking. Probably not. But it's cathartic in a way to put it all out there, just in case. To have contact with people who are taller than 4 feet and can use multisyllabic words. Who will comment back to me that they understand my plight, that some people have children who do weirder things than mine do.
Yes, Facebook is my vice and dirty little secret (not so secret anymore). And I just signed up for Twitter...
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.