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 large 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 extensive 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 significant 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 unexpected occurrences or exciting stories that I would usually 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 an excellent space to keep up with people that aren’t available to talk regularly, 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 significant 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 make 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.