At the end of last month, I did the unthinkable. I deactivated my personal Facebook account. One reason for this, I admit, was mild laziness. Facebook’s Timeline was set to roll out on more profiles, and I had no desire to sort through hundreds of pictures to choose what giant cover photo would soon define me to my 1,000+ friends. I was also feeling a bit claustrophobic because of the social network’s constant clutter and frequent changes. I needed to go through and “clean house,” but then the laziness kicked in again. On top of this, a large percentage of my day-to-day job is spent on Facebook, so visiting the site in my free time was at the bottom of my to-do list.
I’m sure we all know that person who sits on Facebook for a disgusting amount of time every day, borderline stalking past boyfriends or arrowing through photo after photo into the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, that’s never been me. Still, I felt this urge to remove myself from the network altogether and simply not have to worry about any of it. I have a rather large network of friends and acquaintances from my hometown in the Midwest, college on the West Coast, and summer camps spread throughout the United States that I attended growing up. However, I truly felt that the people whose lives I cared about the most would keep in contact with me outside of Facebook, and I could pull the plug without any major consequences. And then I was liberated.
I haven’t been on my personal Facebook for over a month now, and I really don’t feel like I am missing out. Any shocking occurrences or interesting stories that I would normally have read about on Facebook I still hear through word of mouth. My own best friend didn’t even notice I was missing from the site for three weeks! I have found myself spending a bit more time on Twitter, a platform that I have been using for years, on which I can read interesting articles, follow news stories, and converse with other like-minded users. Some of my Facebook friends have even sought me out on Twitter.
I’m not saying Facebook is the devil. I know it’s a good space to keep up with people that aren’t available to talk on a regular basis, such as friends overseas in the military. Everything is on Facebook these days so it can feel weird to not be a part of it. However, I must admit that my overall feeling after a month is freedom.
I know I am not the only one who suffers from Facebook fatigue. Just this past weekend, I noticed “RIP Facebook” trending on Twitter. The tweet stream was filled with people berating Facebook and its recent updates. I have seen many people with that far-off gleam in their eye as they talk about one day deleting their Facebooks. Yet, understandably, it can be a big commitment to take that step.
For anyone who has ever thought about taking a break from the overwhelming social network, I say go for it. If and when you do take a break from the site, whether permanently or temporarily, remember that there is life outside the digital space. You can be more productive – get more exercise, read more books, and grab a drink with an old friend. You may even be less likely to be depressed! And you will definitely spend less time sitting like a zombie in front of the computer screen. As for myself, I imagine my absence from the network is only temporary. I don’t intend on reactivating my profile anytime soon, but to say that I will never return might be a stretch. So to my friends and acquaintances that I really do only communicate with on Facebook…don’t worry. I’ll be back someday.