The Facebook Dilemma

This week I made the decision to deactivate my Facebook account, freeing me from the social media attachment that plagues so many of my peers. I’m not attempting to go “off the grid” and abandon all technology and social media, but I am seeking to create a life of minimal unnecessary distractions. Let’s face it Facebook is the worst offender. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time, but never had the guts to cut the cord. I’ve broken down some of the reasons that abandoning Facebook be a great decision.

  1. Getting rid of my Facebook account felt like a massive decision. The fact that an account online can hold such a major space in someone’s life is frankly alarming. I got nervous right before I deactivated, feeling like I needed to apologize or explain myself to Facebook friends who would no longer be able to tag my name, view my photos, or shoot me a message. This is a ridiculous feeling that helped solidify why Facebook wasn’t working for me. It was less a way to connect with friends across the globe and more about wasting time making sure my page was up to date, reflected my best pictures and most outrageous adventures. At the end of the day, it’s just an account that I created, it has no necessary impact of my life or my future.
  2. Facebook is now viewed as a truthful reality. It has always been concerning to me that Facebook is used by professional bodies to see a side of potential employees or clients, or by new friends who use the site to know all your background. This eliminates the process of gaining a new friend or rekindling a relationship. Personally, I thrive on in-person conversation and the energy that transfers from human to human. Facebook often eliminates the work a person puts towards human connection, like long writing, out-of-the-way visits, and video chatting.Recently, a friend asked someone close to me if my mother was my birth mother because on Facebook a high school friend was listed as my mom. I’ve had others ask if I was actually engaged to my best friend (which I’m not, it’s simply the anniversary of an amazing friendship!). My peers will evaluate who’s dating who based on a series of photos, never thinking simply to ask. This phenomenon marks a major change in Facebook since I created my page when I was 14. In those early days of Facebook, it was young users connecting with each other, making jokes and adding pictures of the secret party that their parents didn’t know about. Today, it has become a common expectation that Facebook is a reflection of reality. This is a faulty expectation. Facebook is merely a life that we decide to present, not a reflection of who we are or what our lives are actually like.
  3. Later in my life, there will be nothing that was left undocumented. Before I deactivated my account, I reviewed my page and all the details that it contained and realized that it displayed my entire life from the age of 14, nearly 9 years time. Later in my life, my Facebook page will have tracked every image, location update and message that I’ve ever sent and displayed for any friend (or public depending on my security settings). I’m not entirely comfortable with this idea. My kids could see everything, my professional acquaintances, and my future self. If I cringe now looking at pictures and comments, how will I feel in ten or twenty years’ time? I’ve grown into a person that values a bit of mystery and discretion, and the nature of Facebook isn’t exactly supportive of those values.
  4. Facebook can be a time-suck and distraction. One of my greatest pet peeves is during social outings and gatherings when a person (young or old) spends the entire time engaged in social media rather than attending to the event and people that are right in front of them. Facebook is the main problem. While I don’t often fall victim to this action, I’m invigorated to know that without a Facebook account that lure to check the phone will be minimized.Another tipping point is the attraction to check the page constantly.  Any comments? How many people like that photo? Have I updated my status, location? I found myself checking every morning when I woke up, every evening before I slept and a few times throughout the day for any updates from friends. I had this nagging feeling that I was missing something if I wasn’t present, when in reality I was wasting time and missing out on things I could be doing with my day.

Beyond my reasons for letting go of a Facebook presence are the issues of Internet and social media addiction. If you are interested in that aspect, check out this article from The Telegraph about the Chinese bootcamps for kicking internet addiction.

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