What Life Without Facebook Has Taught Me

The confession:

I don’t have a Facebook and I am completely comfortable and happy with my lack thereof.

The interrogation:

How do you communicate with your friends from home? Cell phones are magical–we can text and call any time we want! How do you remember birthdays? I put them in the calendar on my phone and wish people happiness accordingly. What about all the cute pictures you miss out on? If I want pictures from an event, my friends are usually more than happy to text or email them to me. How do you “stalk” people? I don’t, I get to know them instead. And probably most commonly asked (not explicitly, but very obviously hinted at) How do you have a social life? Trust me, ladies, it’s not as bad as you may think!

The experiment:

I had a Facebook profile for about a month during my freshman year of high school, so I like to think that my reasons for opting out have valid backup. I am fully aware of the benefits of connectedness, accessibility to photos and event planning, and overall organization that Facebook brings, but after my short stint, I found that it just wasn’t for me. The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of time that I wasted updating my statuses, organizing my photo albums and deciding which friend requests to accept and which I should just pretend like I never received. I know this sounds mean, but I always had a hard time justifying automatically accepting everyone who had even the slightest inkling of curiosity about my life into the personal, virtual world I’d created. I might be weird, but I felt bad saying someone was my “friend” if I didn’t really know them all that well–I know, I might’ve way over thought the whole thing, but that’s just how I am.

Another issue that I found was the mass amount of “he said/she said” and other petty drama that existed in this space. Attending a small high school, there was never a shortage of unnecessary drama and inappropriate bullying, despite the constant efforts of the administration to eliminate it. After a while, the whole scene made me uncomfortable and like more trouble than it was worth so I made the decision to hit the deactivate button, promising myself that I could go back after a week if I really wanted to, but that desire still hasn’t showed up.

The response:

It’s been four years since my little rendezvous with Facebook and I can honestly say that I don’t regret my decision to shut down my profile one bit–it rarely even crosses my mind without someone bringing it up. Lots of people announce it to me, as if it’s an unknown in my life, “You don’t have a Facebook, I tried to look you up!”. To that I usually respond by reaffirming their claim and telling them that I simply don’t see the need to make one at this point in my life. But it’s a little less frequently that people actually ask me why I choose not to have a Facebook–they usually just nod their head and walk away after the first question, no inclination further pursue the conversation. That being said, a lot of people seem to think it’s pretty cool that I swim against the waves of conformity and even express their own desires to take a break from the social media overload that exists on Facebook. Until now, I’ve never really devoted time to an in depth exploration of why this decision is important to me, but the reasons are pretty clear in my mind.

The lessons:

1.) If people really care about you, they’ll make an effort. I might not get as many birthday wishes as I would if I had a virtual wall to post them on, but the ones that I do get are genuine. It means so much more when people make time and go out of their way for you than when you’re just a convenience to them.

2.) There’s a reason it’s called a “personal” life. Some things are not meant to be shared with anyone other than close friends and family, let alone near strangers. Your support network should be made up of the people who are willing to drop everything just to come over and give you a hug, not just those who will post a happy puppy on your wall when you’re feeling down. Once again, choose to be a priority, not a convenience.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742038483 Becca Boops Rhodes

    I need facebook because I live 6996.97 miles away from my best friend. His parents are in the military and were stationed else where now. There’s no way to text and call each other without costing both of us an arm and a leg. My first best friend ever now lives 7207.01 miles away because his parents got better teaching jobs in Germany. Did I want them to leave? Of course not. But now that they live in different countries, we keep in contact in through facebook.

    You say ” If people really care about you, they’ll make an effort.” Well I know for a fact that someone can “make an effort” over facebook. I’ve been separated from my best friend for a year now. And he’s still the closest friend I’ve ever had.

    Sometimes social media can keep you “connected” to a friend as personal, face to face conversations can.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1227343304 Emily Rose Joseph

    I had a facebook freshmen year of high school and then I too deleted it. Because I now live thousands of miles from my family and friends, I re-activated it before I left so I could share photos of my “exciting” life abroad with my people back home and not have to send a hundred emails. Of course, now it is an invaluable tool for easily keeping in touch with friends all around the world. But did I need that tool as a freshman? No.
    I feel like the two years without a facebook gave me time to really mature socially. At fourteen, one truly does not need to share every detail of her life. I spent my time in the real world with real friends, instead of counting my digital ones.
    Deleting my account for those years was one of the best decisions I have made.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004719575074 Paris Travlou

    I used to have a facebook account when I was a young teenager and I deleted it because it was bringing all this negativity to my life. Now, I created a new account 8 months ago, to keep in touch with people from my college, thinking that through facebook I could possibly find a job and work with people from my field. I still don’t like it, I find myself checking my profile every 5 minutes to see if I have a notification. I’m very close to deactivating it again, it has no use for me. I have skype to talk to my friends and family that live 5000 miles away. I have a twitter account to post funny stuff or say my opinion over something I heard, even though I know that not a lot of people will read it, and it’s ok. And I also have an email. And a cell phone! I love the internet and technology, I grew up with them, and I still do, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of my time. I want to go out with my friends instead of talking to them through chat, or even stay in with a nice book to read until I pass out to sleep. Communicating is a wonderful thing, and I think interacting with people face to face, when possible of course, is even better. Don’t you think?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=119100197 Jennifer Dinsmore

    Yes! It is my goal to delete my Facebook very soon for all of the reasons you pointed out. After a bout with depression and feeling like I never have the time to do the things I really want to do, I’ve come to see how much of a useless time suck it is. It was fun when it was an actual community (way back in the day!) but now its just another pointless media site. I want to connect with the people who matter to me face to face. I don’t see how it is “easier” to try and get a hold of someone by posting on their wall rather than calling or texting. Can it be a great way to keep in touch with far away friends and family? Sure! But I don’t need it for that and if (close/nearby) friends are only comfortable chatting online, are they really worth your time at all?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=76200829 Jessica Jeffers

    I went through a pretty serious depression about two years ago and temporarily deactivated my account. I just couldn’t deal with the politics of it, couldn’t deal with seeing pictures of my ex-boyfriend handing out with people who used to be my friends, couldn’t stop myself from hate-watching the profile updates of people I didn’t really even like.

    It was really good for me to take a break, but I did feel out of the loop because people who live far apart have developed a tendency to announce things on Facebook and assume that’s enough. Since coming back to it, I’ve been very careful not to let myself get too sucked into it in a way that affects my outlook on life.

    I think the way people use Facebook depends on how long they’ve been on it and how old they were when they first opened an account. Facebook didn’t exist until I was a senior in college and back then it was way less stalkery, so I never felt it devolving into a pit of rumors and gossip among my social circle and I never relied on it as the sole means of communicating with someone. It facilitates quick, easy communication among groups pretty easily.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14102782 Caroline Jeffery

    facebook wasn’t available to me until college (oh, the good old days!) so i started off with a decent sense of maturity about it. the use of social media in general as a form of social interaction kind of baffles me. i like using it, but i don’t really consider it a part of my social life, if that makes any sense. spending hours and hours on facebook, twitter, and tumblr would not make up for the fact that i only go out once a week, at most (i’m kind of a hermit/loner that way). but its also a good tool for keeping geographically distant social connections open. when i needed a place to stay for a night in boston after a friend’s wedding, i was able to get instant feedback from a few friends from college, ones that i would have otherwise lost touch with in the years since graduation. yes, it’s a convenience situation, but it can also enable real, in-person connections that would otherwise be very difficult. good article!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1717290709 Erica Martinez

    Ironically enough, you have to login to FB to leave a comment on this article. Which brings up something I’ve been wondering about… didn’t Hello Giggles have the option of leaving a comment by logging in with your Gmail account or other options besides FB? If not, can this be changed? I went through a period where I continually deactivated my profile or wouldn’t login for the longest time. I don’t even look at the news feed, just my profile page to see if I have any notifications. A friend told me you can unsubscribe from people and by doing that their updates don’t show up on your news feed but it’s also kind of pointless to even have that person as a friend. I didn’t even realize it until reading your 3rd lesson, but I met a guy through FB at a time when I would hardly login & it was great because we only chatted on FB the first few days, after that it was all texting and hanging out. I never read his old/current statuses or really bothered to look at his pictures. This was one of the closest relationships I ever had (while it lasted) and the only thing that involved FB was meeting him through there.

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