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