A COM sophomore’s reasons for quitting
I’ve been clean for three weeks. Every now and again, I feel the familiar urge. Grinding my nails into my desk, I force myself to focus on my schoolwork. Resisting temptation is difficult. After all, my fix — Facebook — is just a few clicks away.
But I don’t give in. I’ve logged out of Facebook, indefinitely.
I began thinking about deactivating my Facebook account last semester. I couldn’t justify the amount of time I was spending — no, wasting — on it. Why was I looking through my friend’s roommate’s girlfriend’s sorority sister’s photo albums? I didn’t even know this person, yet I could tell you what she did last weekend.
So, three weeks ago, I decided to cut the cord — the Ethernet cord. The results were immediate. On my first Facebook-free day, I cleaned my room, did laundry, and finished my homework — all before my 11 a.m. class. The hole that Facebook left in my schedule quickly filled with more important priorities.
My fingers still want to type the Facebook URL when I open my Web browser. Training my muscles to do otherwise was an intense rehabilitation process: Facebook had become a natural extension of my body. To keep myself from falling off the wagon, I visit the New York Times Web site. In fact, I’ve become a news junkie, certainly an appropriate vice for a photojournalism major.
My friends don’t understand. A few are impressed, but most are just perplexed. It was as if deactivating my Facebook account would also deactivate my social life.
It’s true that most BU organizations advertise their events on Facebook, and without an account, I no longer receive a steady stream of invitations to auditions, concerts, dance shows, and fundraisers. But all of these groups have Web sites or e-mail lists, which are just as effective.
One friend compared my abandoning Facebook to moving far away. “I won’t see you around the Facebook neighborhood anymore,” he said.
His comparison is not without merit. With its myriad networks, Facebook is like a town with many neighborhoods. And within these neighborhoods are gatherings, also known as Facebook events, and organizations, or Facebook groups. “Facebookville” even has its own postal system, Facebook messaging, and direct line of communication, Facebook chat.
My friends’ responses, both positive and negative, made me wonder about the larger realms of social communication. Since when did society decide it was not only okay, but expected, for us to bare our hearts and souls on a few gigabytes of the World Wide Web?
I can’t deny the benefits of Facebook. It has been my sole means of communication with friends from home. But when did we decide that writing, “Hey! How’s school?” on a friend’s wall was the same as having an extended conversation with her?
And if Facebook were an effective means of communication, then why was I “friends” with more than 300 people? I wouldn’t even acknowledge some of my Facebook friends if I ran into them on Comm Ave. I’ve been introduced to some of them in person, and acted as if I hadn’t already looked through 237 of their tagged photos.
At what point are we willing to sacrifice real friendships for convenience? Since giving up Facebook, I’ve called my high school friends, and our conversations are much more gratifying than three words on our wall-to-wall.
My recent Facebook-free stint has also made me wonder how generations before ours got through college. A mere 10 years ago, hardly anyone our age owned a laptop, let alone a cell phone. And they survived just fine without Facebook.
I guess I am just a stickler for the old days. I still love traditional mail, and I refuse to replace my camera with a digital model.
Going a few days without Facebook might not be for everyone, but I recommend giving it a try. It’s an enlightening experience — despite the withdrawal symptoms.
Brendan Gauthier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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