I have been living in Poland for four years. Most of my friends and family live in Spain. Here I have met a few good friends, but nothing that let me say that my social life is active. My personal situation over the last years, becoming father and developing my PhD didn´t allow me building a strong social network. Although that’s not a serious problem for me now to be honest. My polish skills didn´t help very much neither, although as immigrant I tend to hang out with foreigners who speak English, Spanish or Portuguese. It doesn’t mean that I reject learning Polish at all, I can´t wait to be fluent (I will hopefully address this issue in future posts) Well, I also think that the poverty of my social life may be also due to social and cultural factors, such as the lack of acquaintanceship I perceive in my neighborhood and the faculty I work. In other occasion I would like to talk in detailed about the place I live. A residential area partially rose after communist time but with still some Khrushchyovka, the typical block of Communist-era flats.
All in all, the truth is that Facebook has become the only way I have to keep my social life afloat. Keep in touch with my polish acquaintances or have a virtual talk with some good friends from Galicia. I should also say that Facebook is the way I use to get some sociology or work related information. Especially from institutions or contacts that are not in Twitter, the other social media that I like more and more. Hence, Facebook is somehow an important element of my everyday life. So, what´s matter? Why twitter yes and Facebook not? It is not a problem of addiction. I do not waste many hours gossiping or playing silly game. In other words, I am not prone to procrastination, or at least this is not my main problem as to Facebook. The problem is as simple as it sounds; the people I follow in twitter have nothing or almost nothing to do with my personal life, while Facebook, despite the above usages, is still a kind of virtual Gemeinschaft. There I have this people that in one or another way have played an important role in my personal life: cousins, kinder garden mates, primary school mates and most of them are from my hometown. They are the sort of people that one appreciates for sharing a common past. The problem here is that they can provoke a kind of “emotional kidnapping”. Let me put you an illustrating example. I was recently tagged in a photo where my grandma and all my cousins appeared many years ago. This is, at least for a Southern European culture guy, something really touching. It takes you back to those marvelous days, something that I really enjoy. The problem is when does it happen?. Christmas, vacations or simply free time maybe an excellent moment, but not one Tuesday at 9:00 AM. I can’t see a picture of my loved and passed away grand-mother and subsequently keep writing on my thesis or preparing lectures. Well, I can, but not at the top concentration level I want. The problems is even worse if you take into account not just the potentially emotional-kidnapping of some updates, but the fact that certain people wake such feelings as nostalgia or saudade just watching their photo.
Hence, this is my dilemma. I can´t delete my account because it is the only way I have to be in touch with some people, but they can at the same time seriously disturb my everyday concentration. I know that Facebook offers some tools to adjust the feeds but it is very difficult to get away from certain stuff. Contacts activity sometimes pop-up in the right side column, so once you see something potentially emotional you just click on it because the temptation is too high. Not even mention how unavoidable is being tagged by others. What would you do? I came to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this dilemma is avoiding browsing Facebook at the very morning. It wasn’t a problem as far as no emotional messages were there but just work related or rather irrelevant messages. But I can´t take my chances. I now try to caught up on news and sociology related stuff using twitter or online newspapers. Sometimes, I still find myself mindlessly browsing Facebook, but I deliberately stop myself and go into other tasks.
On the other hand, I try to check my Facebook at the end of the day or every two days. The ideal would be just during the weekend, but some people use it as a kind of mailbox, so I need to check it quite often, unless I find another solution.
I should also say that after a week of having made this decision I have certainly experienced the so called productive procrastination or structured procrastination, i.e. the desire to avoid one task can be a creative stimulus towards another. Actually, I think I’ve made in the thesis more than usual, as well as in this blog.
What about you? Do you have this or similar dilemmas? How do you cope with it?