My summer Facebook vacation

Once a year, Katie takes a break from Facebook to live her “real” life more fully.

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Photo by hocus-focus/iStockphoto.com

The first time I took a Facebook-cation, I was 25. I was working full-time, interning full-time (yes, it is possible to do both if you basically don’t sleep or if you clone yourself, I suppose; those lucky kids in 3014 will have it made), going to school part-time and trying to maintain a relationship with my now-husband. Add to it family and friends, and my days were scheduled to the minute. It was insane. And, thank goodness, short-lived. I finished my internship and my schooling that spring and was hired at Chatelaine that summer, allowing me to move to Toronto and be closer to Blaine. But, in the meantime, it seemed completely nuts to spend the little downtime I did have on Facebook, so I announced my departure and actually deactivated my account for about five months. I didn’t really notice too much of a difference, other than the fact that I got a touch more sleep because I wasn’t creeping friends’ pages before bed.

The second time, I was 26 and working very long hours on Chatelaine’s 80th anniversary. It was a formative time in my career, one for which I’m extremely thankful, but I was living on my own, paying off student loans and saving pennies (seriously, like five bucks a week) for a small contingency fund. There wasn’t any extra. And all of a sudden on Facebook, friends are buying houses and getting engaged. I couldn’t have bought a cardboard box, let alone a house. Blaine was also throwing everything he could into student loans, so I knew we couldn’t consider a wedding for a while. Comparison is the fast track to misery, they say (let’s face it, Facebook might as well be call Comparison-Book), and I believe it.

When we did get engaged, about a year and a half later, the planning began. The break that year was necessitated by evenings spent addressing invitations and crunching numbers, and I was just too distracted to keep on top of who was doing what this weekend, who had run how many kilometres and who had had what for breakfast. This break was the shortest — just a couple of months — because friends from out of town started communicating their travel plans for our wedding via my Facebook inbox.

Last year, the break started in the first week of December 2010 and carried through to May 2011. I couldn’t take the pregnancy announcements. Having a baby hadn’t been on the table for very long, but it was still too much to see “We have news!” at least once a week. I knew that with PCOS, it could take a while (even a long while, potentially), and subjecting myself to the reminder that it hadn’t happened for us yet seemed counterintuitive. Then, when I got pregnant in February, I was still too anxious to see other people past the 12-week mark announcing their impending additions. I kept the Facebook silence until the Royal Wedding, when I had to comment on Kate Middleton’s dress (obviously), but I still refused to announce the pregnancy. I never did, to be honest. It must have been surprising for people to see Miss Sophie’s beautiful face on November 19th, because many, if not most, of my Facebook friends didn’t even know I was pregnant. If you’d paid attention to my +1 through +6 statuses when she was days late, necessary for updating real friends without having to answer the phone, you might have clued in, but otherwise, it was all quiet on the Facebook front.

This year, the break is for Sophie’s sake (and, I admit, for the sake of my literary education). My time is more divided than ever — well, maybe that first year still takes the cake but you get the point — and I want to spend the unspoken for hours with Sophie or, if she’s already in bed, catching up on the many, many books I’ve wanted to read since November. The Facebook-cation started last Monday and I’ve already finished two of the titles on my list, one of which (The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides) I started in December. Sigh. I’ve promised myself I won’t be Facebook active again until at least September.

I suppose the Type A discipline is what allows me to stay off of Time-Sucking-Book, and for that I’m grateful. I’m looking forward to a summer full of Sophie and of words, two of my most favourite things in the world. Soph comes in at the top of the list, of course.

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