Back in May 2012, I wrote one of my favorite Creating Communication blog posts called “My Year Without Facebook.” This May will mark a milestone… I’ve lived Facebook-free for two years. Check out “Two Years Without Facebook: Part One” before reading the second half of the article.
In “9 things I learned from deleting my Facebook account,” college student Kendra Benner offers some lessons on her experiences living Facebook free. These lessons reveal it IS possible to live without Facebook; that social media gives an artificial sense of connection; that birthdays are more special; and that Facebook can hurt real life relationships. I’d like to explore these four lessons after my two years of living without Facebook. Today, we will discuss Benner’s final two points…
It’s true. I didn’t get as many “happy birthday” messages on April 4, 2013 as I would have in 2010. On my birthday this year, I got phone calls and in-person best wishes along with a few texts. Instead of 100 people wishing me a happy birthday, I had about 10… my family and closest friends. For me, the day was even more special than it would have been if I’d had Facebook because these people took the time to remember my birthday and – without the prompt of a Facebook calendar – reached out to me. Now that was special to me.
Benner’s article included this gem from a former Facebook user named Kristina: “When I was on Facebook I had all of these people saying ‘Happy birthday’ to me, but it was insignificant because they wouldn’t have said that otherwise. I guess it shows you who cares enough to pay attention to those things versus public information” (Source).
This goes back to the question of quality versus quantity. Is it better to have 600 “Happy Birthday” messages on your Facebook page, or is it better to have 6 people reach out to you in different ways (a phone call, a present, a card)? For me, quality has become much more important.
Facebook encourages stalking. Benner’s article explains that Facebook can cause rifts in close relationships, especially romantic ones. For example, college student Kristina says, “I was seeing a lot of people Facebook-creeping on their boyfriends’ friends who were girls — ‘He posted this,’ and, ‘She posted that on his page.’ It was a manifestation of jealousy or curiosity beyond what’s healthy” (Source). Being able to learn more about a person you just met through old photos and posts from other people is a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s interesting to learn more about someone who makes your heart flutter, but the mystery is part of why dating is so much fun. Facebook takes out a bit of that mystery if you know what your crush is doing at all hours of the day.
Facebook stalking a crush happens about as often as Facebook stalking an ex. In “The anti-social network,” four people tell their stories about deactivating their Facebook accounts. The CNN article says, “A bad breakup: Nothing can be as emotionally tumultuous for a young heart… Except maybe finding out via your Facebook newsfeed that your college ex is dating someone from your fraternity. That was the defining moment that eventually led Brolin Walters, 24, to ultimately break up with something else: Facebook. ‘I didn’t want to see what was going on with them,’ said Walters. ‘So I deactivated my account'” (Source). Walters’ self control is uncommon; most of us jeopardize our emotional stability and mental health on a daily basis by stalking everyone: former and current friends; former and current boyfriends; co-workers; bosses; our boyfriends’ ex-girlfriends; and even strangers.
People without Facebook are a rare breed, and they are suspicious to the outside world according to Forbes (Source). I can attest to the disbelief I hear every day when I tell people I don’t have Facebook. One afternoon in early 2013, I was in the parking lot at work and crossed paths with a co-worker. She said we should connect on Facebook, and I told her I didn’t have an account. “What world are you living in?” the co-worker asked with a laugh. I paused for a minute to think about her question. “The real world,” I replied. “I am living in the real world.”
What world have you been living in? Have you made the choice to limit your Facebook time or to deactivate altogether? Share your Facebook story with me in the comments section!