BU Today

Campus Life

Farewell, Facebook

A COM sophomore’s reasons for quitting

33
no_facebook1_t_01.jpg

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 btgauth@bu.edu.

Would you ever give up your Facebook profile? Or have you already? Let us know in the comments section below.

33 Comments

33 Comments on Farewell, Facebook

  • John on 02.09.2009 at 7:21 am

    Facebook good for prior generation

    sadly, i have to admit i am finally of the older generation (age 38). When i went to college, we literally said goodbye to most of our high school friends and as time has a way of making even good things fade, so did many of those friendships. And then when we all left college and entered the real world, more friendships went by the wayside.
    In the last 2 years, Facebook has reconnected millions of friends who simply couldn’t find each other, couldn’t take the time when they did find each other to share with each person individually what they had been up to for 5, 10, 15, even 20 years. And since pictures speak 1000 words, we’re all now caught up. Not all of us, obviously… but many. And its fun.

    As for the time sink, i think that’s an individual thing. I have it on my blackberry, glance at it at times. and when someone tags me or has a comment, i check it out. If people are really addicted to this thing (something i had not thought of) then i guess that does pose a problem.

    But as for wondering how we all got along without Facebook, well, we did… but its a whole lot more fun now that its here. And for the record, i have 346 friends, and i’ve probably hit ignore just as many times. Facebook friends should be real friends…

    By the way, my parents are on Facebook too (late 60′s and early 70s).

    Maybe that means the college crowd does need to come up with something new… i know that i even cringe when i see my parents friends trying to friend me… :)

  • Boston Girl on 02.09.2009 at 8:09 am

    Phew!

    How glad am I to know that I am not the only one that thinks Facebook is voyeuristic (guilty!) and sometimes superficial? Really glad! Thanks.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 8:21 am

    What’s up

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 8:24 am

    Wow, that was the least interesting article I’ve ever read. Learn self discipline, it’s a far better skill.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 8:45 am

    at least turn off FaceBook in class

    Well said, good article. People are missing important learning in class when they are on FaceBook – how can “looking through my friend’s roommate’s girlfriend’s sorority sister’s photo album” be more important than lecture and discussion? Some class discussions and lectures take effort to follow, but it is effort that’s worth it. Also, the skill of listening intently is a skill that needs to be developed – develop it during class. Turn off FaceBook, at least during class!

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 8:54 am

    facebook

    Last semester I was contemplating many of the same facebook isses: has our generation lost the ability to truly communicate? why am I compelled to spend so much time on it? why do I have so many friends that I wouldn’t even look up if I was going to be in their neck of the woods? While I basically agree with what the article is saying, I have grown to love facebook in the last month.

    The reason, much of my extended family has joined, allowing me to interact with some of my 20+ cousins and aunts and uncles. While almost all of them grew up in the same state, my family moved across the country when I was two and I have always regretted not knowing my cousins very well. It has been a blast to read about their “25 things” and to see the multitude of pictures that they have posted. So, while I have tried to pare down my “friends” to the ones that really matter and I try to limit my time on facebook, I am very thankful for the opportunity to get to know my cousins. Now, when I do finally get to see them this summer, we’ll get to continue our online conversations.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 9:23 am

    this is the most trite article i’ve ever read in bu today. try a column that’s more up to date.

  • Ben Timmins on 02.09.2009 at 9:27 am

    Well, Yes, but...

    It seems as if the author has forgotten the majority of his COM 101 course already…

    While I congratulate you, Brendan, on unplugging yourself from the single greatest source of procrastination ever invented and finally making the push to actually vacuum your room, to say that Facebook has no communications merit is, well, a bit flimsy.

    Facebook, as any theory-minded COM professor will tell you, has created a new sense of connecting with some people- ambient awareness. Yes, it would be wonderful for me to communicate with my friends from my high school summer course by calling all 100 of them individually, I simply can’t do that, and simply won’t. Instead, I’m using Facebook to stay connected- which is much more than I used to do. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve reconnected with old friends, and communicate with them from time to time. I’m not creating deep relationships on Facebook, but I’m creating lasting ones.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 9:28 am

    I am astonished every time I see someone let Facebook, or another outlet, control their lives. You do not have to give up Facebook to achieve your goals, you just have to set priorities – it is called “applying yourself.”

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 9:28 am

    You’ve logged out “indefinitely”? (As opposed to “permanently”?) Uh-oh, sounds like someone’s still tempted…
    Seriously, good article. Interesting on the heels of yesterday’s Globe magazine piece on this subject:

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2009/02/08/the_end_of_alone/

    Yeah, when I started college in the mid ’90s, I just had a word processor. I feel like I didn’t even start using e-mail SO heavily until 2004. *Certainly* didn’t use the internet much until then, because pre-Google search engines were useless.
    But anyway, e-mail seems like such a great invention. Although in some cases it can hinder communication, when a phone call would resolve issues more quickly, most of the time it’s incredibly useful. If anything, it was a throwback to a time when people wrote letters regularly. *And* you can send pictures on it. And write to several recipients at once. Etc., etc. I don’t know why everyone had to shift to this more complicated and, really, intrusive “social networking” system. I find it to be largely a pain in the ass. On the plus side, I have gotten in touch (sort of) with some old peeps. But then there are people I’d rather *not* have resumed contact with. Pain in the ass.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 9:43 am

    I gave up facebook all of last semester, and I have to say, it was glorious. However, I don’t want to give up friendships, contacts for networking purposes, or just someone I can ask for a movie review or a quick translation because I refuse to be on this network. Since reactivating my account, I keep way fewer photos tagged, there is way less information about me available, and I treat it primarily as a networking device; meaning I don’t check it every 3.24 minutes. And I treat it as though only my close friends and the person considering me for the job of my dreams will see it. I only have facebook email me for what I deem the most important facebook occurrences, and when I receive an email from them, I actually read it, often negating the need to go to the facebook website. I, too, have become WAY more productive with my time i.e. studying, learning music, and emailing/calling my close friends and family, with whom I would keep in touch regardless of the existence of facebook.

    here is an interesting article that discusses this topic:

    http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1871627,00.html

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 10:17 am

    poke!

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 10:18 am

    Nicely written, I chuckled at a few places. I’m not sure I’m convinced that quitting Facebook entirely is the way to go, but you do raise several very good points. For me, Livejournal is the bigger timesink, and Facebook is merely a way for me to manage my own vacation photos, check out my friends’, and see what my cousins are up to every now and then. It can be a very good thing to have, but I think the key is not letting it take over your spare time or be the focal point of your social networks.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 10:51 am

    Whatever happened to doing things in moderation? Just because you want to cure an unhealthy addiction to Facebook doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off completely. That’s a little extreme.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 11:33 am

    Facebook is not the antichrist that you speak of

    It is just an internet site. You can practice self-discipline. It is depressing that our generation blames a website for their sorry inactivity. Also, I have to say that this same type of article has been written in many other publications. Next time you want to write about facebook, come up with some original ideas.

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 1:29 pm

    I abhor Facebook yet I have one because I feel pressured to. I do not understand our society’s odd fascination with social networking. Why do I need to define myself by what I put on a website? Why do I need to be a “friend” to someone in a virtual medium? Its just silly. Facebook seems to be a device for people to comment on things with their real friends yet pretend to keep in touch with old ones. The website really doesn’t serve a purpose. And not only that, I tend to feel slightly inadequate when I look at the profiles of others and find that hundreds of pictures of them have been posted. Why are people posting this where it is easily accessible in the first place? To show everyone that they had such a good time with their friends?

    Although the argument in this article has been made many times, the truth is the truth.

  • Old Facebook junkie on 02.09.2009 at 2:05 pm

    What's the big deal?

    I used to be on facebook all the time. We’re talking days at a time and activey on facebook. I was not only hooked onhatting with everyone I have ever met, EVER, but the apps got me too. I loved to look at all the apps, like, “The Office quote of the day,” or Pacman! I mean, freakin’ Pacman guys! In the past year, I have really cut back. I haven’t cut any of my, “friends,” because I don’t want to be rude. I have limited my time on facebook though. I’m only on a few times a week. There’s nothing wrong with staying connected with your current friends. Some of my friends check their Facebook profile more than their cell phones, so it’s easier to contact them. Also, I have a couple apps now, instead of a thousand. You know, like scramble. LOVE THAT GAME! I liked the article, but I don’t think you need to cut Facebook out of your life, cold turkey. Also, I didn’t think the article was tripe. Some responses to it were just rude. Come on guys, let the guy speak his mind!

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 3:00 pm

    Supports!!

    You are one of the few people who are brave enough to do something like this. And it can be the right thing, when you think more about the priorities you can achieve with those wasted time.

    Supports!

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2009 at 4:35 pm

    I hesitantly agree

    I guess just like everyone else who has commented so far, I too have thought at times that Facebook may be a deterrent to actual communication, but we also have a choice. Its more than facebook though, its the internet in general. Communication has completely evolved and maybe for the better, but as a few people have mentioned, there is something to be said for face to face interaction. The people who lose track of this important part of human life are the ones that really need to cut the cord. Anyone who thinks that they can create lasting or deep relationships through facebook, also may have a problem. However, I do not think that this new form of communication should be completely rejected. Moderation is important. Getting rid of Facebook would be taking a step backwards because just as humans desire affection and interpersonal contact, they also are driven by constant improvement of such, so I would say Facebook is new technology, use it, but be careful

  • Ryan on 02.09.2009 at 4:55 pm

    Friendship

    Very much enjoyed and appreciated your article, Mr. Gauthier.

    As a fellow member of your class, I have never had a Facebook account. You bring up some important considerations, and there is further thought-provoking material posted at both of the latest links that I would recommend checking out, have you not already.

    This line in particular – “At what point are we willing to sacrifice real friendships for convenience?” – says it all. Why are our lives so bustling, busy and complicated that we sacrifice deep human connections for an extensive lifestyle that tries to be comprehensive rather than intensive? We cannot live it all – cannot talk to everyone, nor make it to every interview or party. However far technology advances, it will still be difficult to perceive every potential opportunity or friend. If we could catalogue everything in the world into nice, neat networks and databases, life would lose its exciting adventure, and we would lose a dimension of personal trial, trade-offs and decision making vital to personal development. It is a poor choice to relegate one’s friends, about whom one is meant to care most, to the oblivion of 12 pt. font and pixels, just to help us get by and “maintain connections.” The Internet is always a generic face.

    To the rest:

    I understand that some people are far away. Text has power, and images too, but heed those testimonies that these cannot replicate audible conversation. Even a written letter bears personal touches unique and distinct to one’s own character.

    Are you afraid to take the time to write or call, to devote attention undivided to just one individual out of many? If you cannot, what does that person really mean to you?

    Another writer commented appropriately, I think, that technology helps us by making our lives more convenient. It makes things more accessible, and anyone not grateful for this is ignorant. What Gauthier and others have argued is that Facebook has actually detracted from, or could in short order, the quality of relationships by making them more convenient. Building a friendship is meant to take effort, and along with work comes a certain amount of pain, time and patience. Shortcuts like Facebook often bypass key developmental benefits of friendship, so that perhaps our bonds are growing weaker even as they are becoming easier and longer lasting. Meaning is shunted for quantity – of friends, of correspondence and of leisure. Whatever convenience technology provides should aid friendships, not undermine potentially fuller relationships.

    P.S ~ I admittedly spent several hours more on the internet today than I intended, reading and thinking about these issues. I am not on Facebook, but I am very much distracted. There is much to be said for self-discipline. However, environment is everything; the Internet is limiting even as it seems infinite – a great servant but a bad master, a professor once said. With this great tool comes the responsibility to learn how to use it well, constructively rather than in a way that inhibits progress or takes away from what we already have. You don’t need to be plugged in to have a good time – compare marijuana highs to being high on adrenaline, or the endorphins of love. Technology will ruin us sooner than it will save us by itself.

  • Anonymous on 02.10.2009 at 12:01 pm

    Great that this works for you. But if you log onto a website a million times a day instead of doing your work, it’s your behavior that’s busted not the website.

  • Anonymous on 02.10.2009 at 3:25 pm

    10 years ago I was a sophomore in college. I can assure you, we had both cell phones and laptops. I got my first cell phone in 1996 and by 1998 was using it as my main phone. We also had high speed internet, file sharing, and online chat rooms. Facebook has streamlined the process but it’s hardly revolutionary, and you have to go back further than a decade to find a generation whose college experience was not plugged in.

  • Lara on 02.13.2009 at 11:17 am

    Farewell Facebook

    Dear Brendan,

    I think that Facebook is a good way to get in touch with people for all over the world . Family , friends , friends of friends . It is a very good idea to have a contact with people but it is also a good way to waste time “spying” what people are doing instead of doing more important things such as homework , laundry or differents cores . Sometimes I can spend 2 hours on facebook looking at pictures people I don’t know or doing some stupid applications like ” Oh What you’re friends think of you ” or ” Are you interested” …Well I don’t care but I do that because I’m curious . I think that sometimes it is better to go out or do something else instead staying on Facebook for three or four hours . It will be a great idea if I try to stop going on Facebook every single day of my life .Updating my profile , putting pictures … Maybe I should try it to see how many time I could stay not going on Facebook . But it’s like an addiction . I open my internet boswer and I want automatically go on Facebook . Before I did not go on internet that often but now it ‘s like a drug . I hope that I will not get addicted for a long time and maybe “one day” I will log out !

  • Anonymous on 02.23.2009 at 2:27 pm

    Internet addiction is growing.

  • Kelly ~ Facebook hater on 11.30.2009 at 11:50 pm

    Let's get a life shall we?

    People, please get a life, a husband, children a degree… I feel that on a short note, Facebook may get you connected lond distance friends etc. But, please spending your life on the computer (all active facebookers do) instead of getting connected the old fashioned, meaningful way is sad. I mean, feeding your “virtual” aquarium fish is just lame. Get a good book… go to the gym… call your mom you ungrateful snob. For those of you who use Facebook to drive home your own personal agendas, which even members of my own family do. Shame on you. Facebook is for kids and not adults.

    Oh, to the dude who wrote that the internet was around in 1999… surely you jest. Everyone had dial up then… chat rooms were just he beginning. Seriously…

  • Jamie on 02.26.2010 at 1:30 am

    whew

    first thing, i appreciate you writing stuff, i feel your heart writing and not just your hands. the truthfulness in your words take you away, IMO.

    but i gotta ask, what the hell is wrong with Facebook and gobbling all it up with games, unwanted updates, groups that dont make sense and friends just because you wanted more milk in Farmville?!

    i dont see anything wrong with that.. or is it just me?!

    lol.

  • Anonymous on 03.03.2010 at 11:25 am

    Life is short, stay connected by all means available!

    FACEBOOK IS FABULOUS AND YES, I DO HAVE A LIFE THAT IS PRIORITIZED!

    Facebook is cool in so many ways. I stay connected with friends and keep up with family more so now, than I did before I joined. I work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and attend school part-time…for real, who talks to all of their cousins every week, let alone everyday, especially if you have a large family? Sure we get together for occasions and holidays, but why wait until then, when you can connect every day, even if it’s briefly to say, hello? Outside of Facebook, most of our daily communication happens within our immediate circle of friends and family. Facebook is for those who seek alternatives for staying connected when establishing a physical connection is not an option.

    Life is short, stay connected by all means available!

  • Andrew on 04.30.2010 at 6:01 am

    missed it

    Similar to the previous comment I seem (thankfully) to be in the middle generation that has missed the facebook addiction. I’ve resisted all urges to join. I don’t see the point in letting the whole world know about my whole life. I would much rather show people who I really cared about my pics and my intimate moments. The worst part is people who I hardly know come up to me talking about my life because a friend or relative has mentioned me on their account.

    No I’m happy to be miserable on my own. Keep your addiction under control.

  • darren on 05.20.2010 at 8:32 am

    facebook

    Been there, I used to spend 3-4 hours a day on facebook, but what a waste of time. I am clad to say I spend my hours more productively now on learning how to fly a Concorde flight simulator. http://www.flightsimulatornow.com/?p=49

  • Shelly on 06.21.2010 at 9:14 am

    I have one word – Amen

  • joel on 10.31.2010 at 7:43 pm

    Can't do it...yet

    Great job! I’m slowly working my way down as well. You provide inspiration.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 2:50 pm

    facebook is like time travel

    I’ll go on Facebook after breakfast and next thing I know it’s like 8 o’clock at night.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)