It’s true. I did the unthinkable. I deactivated my Facebook.
I know, I know, you are shocked and bewildered. Why on earth would any college student in their right mind ever dream of deleting his or her Facebook? Why would any person, I should say, dream of removing himself or herself from the virtual world of wall posts and tagged photos?
Let’s face it (no pun intended), social networking sites are practically taking over the world. Twitter made headlines on CNN.com a few weeks ago when someone following Demi Moore announced the intention to commit suicide. Facebook and CBS have teamed up and created a dynamic duo for March Madness. And while Twitter and Facebook may be leading the pack, there are numerous other sites out there dedicated to connecting people across the world and providing a place for members to express themselves in a way only possible on the Internet.
Anyone reading this who knows me even the slightest bit probably won’t believe that I’ve actually gotten rid of my precious Facebook. I’ve always jumped on the bandwagon when it comes to Internet trends. I created a LiveJournal account when I was in high school because I loved writing. LiveJournal, though, quickly turned into a bubbling, oozing pool of gossip and drama that nearly ruined several friendships. After that came MySpace, the Facebook for anyone not yet in college, because we all remember the good ol’ days when Facebook was only for college students. MySpace was great for discovering new bands, but Facebook quickly kidnapped my interest. MySpace never had a chance against the social giant of Facebook. I remember the night I created my Facebook account. I had just returned to the hotel with my family after a day full of “welcome to college” activities. I finally received my Lipscomb e-mail address, and of course my first priority was to create my very own Facebook account. That night I uploaded pictures, wrote an autobiography-sized “About Me” section and searched endlessly for new friends. Odds are if “Lipscomb ‘10” showed up next to your name, I added you.
That began the obsession. Before I knew it, my friends and I were taking pictures for the sole purpose of putting them on Facebook. If someone said something funny, we would laugh and yell, “Facebook quote!” If they offered a class on giving out bumper stickers or flair, I would have passed with flying colors. Yeah, you all know what I’m talking about. Admit it or not, we’ve all been there.
Twitter came on the scene for a little while, but I jumped on and off that train pretty quickly. I didn’t understand it at first, but as usual, it soon became all I did. I “tweeted” several times a day. After a few months, though, it got to be too much. People would update and say things like, “So-and-so is going to make a sandwich and then take a shower.” I’m sorry, I don’t need to, or care to, know that much about your daily life.
So here I am. A junior in college with no Facebook and no Twitter and no means of communication besides e-mail and my cell phone and, in our world, only two sources of communication is unheard of. I love it, though.
Have you ever left your phone at home on purpose, just so you don’t have to worry about answering every call or text? That’s what I’m doing with Facebook. I just want a break. I don’t want to know what people are doing every second of every day. But it goes deeper than that.
Facebook creates an alternate universe for people to live in. It’s true that, if used in moderation, like anything, there is nothing wrong with it, but when people actually start to depend on Facebook for real-world problems and decisions, there is an issue. I was “friends” with people on Facebook that I didn’t even smile at when I passed them around campus. Some people don’t recognize relationships unless they are “Facebook official.” I’ve even seen people get their feelings hurt over the Top Friends application. Seriously?
I needed to escape from this artificial world and, selfishly, I kind of wondered who would notice if I was gone. The results were slightly depressing.
Day 1: No one noticed that they hadn’t seen a status update from me in 24 hours.
Day 2: My cousin, who also lives in Nashville, called me to find out why she couldn’t find my profile and write on my wall.
Day 3: My boyfriend called because he couldn’t tag me in any pictures. Later, my best friend from high school, Mike, called, very confused as to why I had disappeared from Facebook-land.
Day 4: My mom called, a little hurt, because she thought I had blocked her.
Day 5: No one.
Day 6: Another best friend from high school, Rachel, texted. She was angry because half of her pictures (that I had tagged her in) had disappeared.
Day 7: My roommate discovered my missing profile and told me I was brave.
In a week, only six people noticed they had no idea how I was doing or if I was alive. Only six people bothered to call or text and see what was wrong. Besides the blow to my self-esteem, this proved my theory.
It has been weird not having Facebook. I catch myself mindlessly moving my mouse to where it used to be bookmarked on my homepage, and sometimes I think about logging in just for a minute to see what I’ve missed, to look at pictures and read status updates. Now, though, I make an effort to call people to find out how they are doing instead of just reading about it. Now, I make an effort to ask questions about their weekend and instead of Facebook chatting, we go get coffee and have a face-to-face conversation.
I’m not saying that Facebook makes you a bad friend, but it makes it easier to avoid important social interactions that really mean something. And, in a passive-aggressive way, I’m forcing others to do the same. Friends from home have to call me to see what’s going on in my life rather than just look through my pictures from the last weekend. People actually have to call me to invite me to parties or dinners instead of sending out an impersonal Facebook invite. And while having only six people realize they didn’t know how I was doing, out of over 400 friends, is a blow to your ego, it makes you realize who your real friends are. And believe me, having someone call just to see how your day is going feels a lot better than seeing someone write on your wall.