Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life without Facebook...a Reality Check!

Ever heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans”? I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if there is, He had a great laugh on me this week! And I deserved it.
I’d been flying pretty high—teaching at great conferences and meeting wonderful people; new books released and garnering great reviews (and hopefully some sales as well); lots of media interviews, and even some new books/series contracts in the works. Life was good!
Until this last weekend when I decided to check my Facebook account. I’d been away from it for a couple of days, and who knew how many messages and friend requests awaited me? I tried to log on from my Blackberry, but for some reason it refused to allow me entry. Strange. Oh well, I’d just have to wait until I got home and log on there.
Wrong again. After zooming through my thousands of emails (all quite important, of course—things like “We can get you a Scooter chair for free” and “Take your next trip to Lawrence Welk Village on us”)—I zipped on over to Facebook, typed in my email address and extremely complicated password, and… Wait a minute. I was in but couldn’t get to my page. Instead I saw a message informing me that someone had tried to access my account. I looked at the date and time and realized it was when I tried to get in via my Blackberry. Whew! That was a relief. No one was trying to hack my account after all. It was just a misunderstanding. All I had to do to clear it up—according to the Facebook Team who assured me they were there to help—was to identify some of my Facebook friends.
Uh oh. That could be a problem. I have about 2500 of them, plus an additional 500-plus fans. What if they sent me pictures of those I didn’t know, which was about 98 percent of them? But it seemed to be the only game in town, so I decided to play it.
Sure enough, they sent me pictures of three people I didn’t recognize, along with two dogs and a picture of scenery. I’d forgotten that not everyone uploads their photos on Facebook, so now I was stuck trying to identify people I didn’t know, along with their pets and views of their backyard. This was becoming more complicated by the moment.
Wait a minute. Hadn’t the Facebook Team assured me they were there to help? If I could just figure out how to contact them….
No easy task, I’m afraid. I eventually tracked down a list of emails specifically assigned to Facebook-related problems, but none were about what to do when you can’t identify pictures of your Facebook friends. Still, I tried the closest thing—verifying identity from your cell phone, since that’s what seemed to initiate the problem—and lo and behold, I got a reply from my helpful Facebook Team. The problem was that it didn’t address my specific question and gave me absolutely no recourse beyond continuing to try to identify random Facebook photos—which, by the way, you are restricted to trying only once every hour.
By the second day, as emails piled up in my inbox, informing me that at least a gazillion of these people whose pictures I could not identify were leaving me messages and/or wanted to be added to my unidentifiable friends list, I was nearly in tears. And then I remembered that my Twitter posts are set up to feed into Facebook. Aha! Maybe I could get in through the back door.
Sure enough I was able to post messages on my Facebook site via Twitter, but it didn’t help me get into my account. And no matter how many loops I posted my question on, no one seemed able to come up with a way to circumvent this ridiculous security system.
On day three, after trying to identify someone’s pet gerbil and a cartoon character that vaguely resembled Groucho Marx, I threw up my hands in despair and thought, Fine! There was life before Facebook; there can be life after it! But I decided to give it one last try. This time Facebook let me in and, instead of showing me pictures to identify, asked me to answer a few NORMAL security questions: such as, what was my father’s middle name; what is my birth date; what is my mother’s maiden name, etc. Voila! I answered them in seconds and was allowed back in. I was home!
Ah, Facebook heaven! I was reconnected with my 2500 beloved friends whom I wouldn’t recognize if I passed them on the street. I quickly posted explanations of where I’d been and what I’d been doing the last few days. Out of 2500 friends, I soon discovered that only about a dozen noticed I was gone and welcomed me back.
Hmm… Food for thought, don’t you think? And fodder for prayer as well. I’ve been doing a lot of both lately, and realizing how easily I get caught up in things that seem important but actually may not be. I can’t help but wonder if this was a reality check from God about just how wisely (or not) I’m “redeeming the time,” as we’re advised to do in Colossians 4:5.
What about you? Am I the only one who needs an occasional reality check from God about priorities? Somehow I don’t think so. And if I’m right about that, let me assure you that there really is life without many of the time-consuming activities that fill our lives these days. Perhaps getting locked out of Facebook for awhile isn’t such a bad thing after all.


  1. Ha! I feel your pain. LOL And you could be right about a vacation from Facebook or Twitter or Shoutlife or, or . . . as long as it is voluntary!

    XX's and OO's, my friend.

  2. Great post Kathi!

    Hope you're having a great day!

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  4. Yes, a good post. The word friend is defined loosely on Facebook, it may even be defined loosely in life. That's something to think about.

  5. Kathi,
    I'm glad you were able to resolve your access problem. It's important to us these days, isn't it? (Access, I mean.)

    I'm wondering: did you unscheduled absence from FB clarify for you its value to you? I find that when I'm made to do without something, I learn about its importance to me--or lack thereof.