Column: The trials of life without Facebook
Aug. 23, 2011
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
When I came to Mizzou last fall, I was excited to start a new social life and pursue my dream of becoming a successful writer.
By the end of spring, I decided to severely hinder my efforts at both of these endeavors and deleted my Facebook.
I credit my social sacrifice to the suggestion of a good friend, who claimed that the Internet was slowly taking control of our lives. He argued that we were helpless against the pull of Facebook, and we could eliminate it, at least temporarily, by deactivating our accounts for the summer.
After allowing myself to indulge in a few seconds of hypothetical trauma (what will happen to all those witty photo comments I’ve made over the years?), I committed.
I survived Facebook-free February with no problems, so what’s a couple of months after one? Besides, I could always reactivate come August if I started turning purple or couldn’t take the technological isolation any longer.
And so I came to remove my insignificant blip from the sea of other insignificant blips on Mark Zuckerberg’s radar.
My blog views plummeted from seven per month to three, I was constantly out of the know about the newest viral video sensations and people started looking at me like I was a pretentious simplicity columnist.
The thing is, all of these “tragic” consequences were underwhelming. I had originally considered deactivating to be some huge social statement, as if I was consciously choosing to take a stand against something backed by a generational tide of believers.
I was, and I am, but why does it matter? Why did I really care if my profile pictures and comments and likes and videos disappeared?
My friends still tell me about cool stuff they do, and I still get to hear about interesting Internet happenings. People just tell me about it in person now, and I find myself with a lot more to talk about.
Thanks to my deactivation, I spent zero time refreshing my notifications this summer, which gave me a lot more time to catch up on my reading list, sit on the beach and underachieve a little less on my online summer class, still in progress.
When I made it back to Mizzou a few weeks ago, I got to tell all my friends about my summer and ask about theirs, because I had no wall posts or photo albums to go off of.
Face-to-face conversations are no longer just rehashing things found on my news feed, since I no longer have one.
Reuniting with friends actually feels like a reunion. I get to hear stories that I don’t recognize from statuses. Crazy concept, right?
Some people have been asking me why I deleted my Facebook or why I’m so opposed to having one. It’s the question that’s fishing for the purist, too-good-for-technology answer. Sorry to disappoint, but there really isn’t one.
After Facebook-free February, I found that catching up on the nice wall posts and comments I’d missed was becoming more of a chore, and Facebook itself was losing its entertainment/social value in my life.
By boring me, Facebook was taking away from my happiness, and I wanted to see if I could improve on my happiness by getting rid of it. Ditching Zuckerberg wasn’t a symbolic scoff at all other Facebook users. If you are able to use Facebook for short (or long) periods of time without growing bored or unhappy, I don’t see why you would want to get rid of it.
But I did, and I still don’t miss it. Facebook was something that held no essential place in my mind, so adjusting the habit took little more than breaking a few keystroke habits when I opened up Google Chrome.
Now, three months into my Facebook freedom, I feel no reason to come back. I had originally intended to return in August to promote my column and connect with new classmates, but after three months of such a carefree disconnect, it’s just not worth it to me.
Plus, I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with more productive, entertaining ways to distract myself during lecture.
More importantly, all this Facebook-free time has given me plenty of opportunities to write, which will hopefully benefit my blog or my writing career one day.
But my blog views are still plummeting, and I haven’t really worked that one out just yet.