Early in July, I deactivated my Facebook account. It's something that I'd wanted to do for months before that, but never had actually had the guts to do it. But three months into being Facebook-free, I've heard from many other people that they are also weary of the site. So I'm sharing my thoughts here today (but we'll be back with decorating news tomorrow!).
I opened a Facebook account during my sophomore year of college, back when it was only open to college students and they were still rolling it out school by school. After all, Mark Zuckerburg is only one year ahead of me in school. So it was definitely the hot thing and some friends talked me into opening an account. At that point, Facebook was the best way to keep in touch with the new people I was meeting every day - sure, I also spied on classmates from high school, but since not everyone had one, it was more about the community I was building at my university. I'd meet someone in class or at my campus job and would add them if I thought there was some kind of connection there (I was never a "get a million friends" kind of serial friend-er). It was a great way to have their email address right away and to find out where they were from. At the time, there weren't even "walls" to write on. It was purely a place to post information about yourself and invite others to see it.
After graduating college, the nature of how I was using the site changed. A lot of my high school friends had joined, along with my family and older coworkers. I was keeping tabs on where people had moved after graduation and who was marrying their college sweethearts (and who was breaking up). The trend of posting every single photo from your wedding, pregnancy, and of your kids had begun.
Suddenly, I had lots of friend requests from people that I didn't know or remember from high school but had friends in common with. I got lots of friend requests from older adults that I worked with but that didn't actually TALK to me when we were at work. And the presence of my family made me self-conscious of any kind of party photos (not that I've ever been a big partier), my language (excuse my French). Over the next few years, I couldn't gripe about work (because my coworkers were on there), couldn't gripe about my family ever (oh the drama that would ensue), and eventually couldn't gripe about blog stuff because I was friends with a lot of bloggers and clients.
Ha, I make it sound like all I wanted to do was complain! Everyone wants to complain about something at some point, and I felt like I was being monitored. I was censoring myself in a place that was supposed to be a collection of friends.
I got to the point where the time I spent on facebook left me feeling yucky. The thrill of knowing the gossip of friends (and frenemies) from the old days wore off... why did I care that someone I knew vaguely 8 years ago just got married? Then I realized... I didn't! I couldn't tell who a third of my female friends even were after they married, changed their name, and changed their profile picture to their baby. Jessica WHO? The spelling errors (though I'm not perfect, I know) drove this English major nuts. And after my self-conscious monitoring of what I was complaining about and how often, it was frustrating to see other "friends" whine and complain in every. single. post. Let's not even talk about the political and religious debates, or the horrible comments on pages of brands that I'd liked.
I wanted to quit, but what about the friends that I wasn't really close to anymore but still cared about? Or Ryan's sister's college adventures? Or missing friend's birthdays?
One day I'd had enough and I announced that I'd be leaving facebook. I posted my contact information in a status update and left it up for about a week before I deactivated my account, with encouragement to my friends to actually USE it. I'd rather get an email or an invitation to coffee than a "like" on my status. And after some struggle (the site makes it as difficult as possible to leave), I was no longer active.
Three months later, I've only had three instances where I'd thought about actually logging in (technically my account is still there, I just don't show up anywhere). One was to ask Ryan's cousin for her new address because I don't have her email (I had Ryan do it). Second was when Ryan said his sister posted a bunch of photos from the beginning of the school year (I just looked over his shoulder and sent her a text). And third was when I wanted to check a reference I remembered someone leaving me ages ago that I never wrote down anywhere else. Otherwise, I feel FREE.
I try to think, if I was my age twenty years ago, how would I know that someone from high school biology class is now pregnant with her second child and craving a milkshake? Well, I wouldn't, unless I was ACTUALLY friends with that person. How would I spread news of my own engagement or job change or move? I'd tell the people that I want to know, and the gossip chain will take care of the rest. My life is on display enough here on the blog and on twitter and instagram, and that's with people who share a common interest or care about me enough to visit another website. Do I really need another place to share my life with people that I wouldn't call with good news? I don't think so.
My question for you - have you thought about quitting Facebook (or other social media)? Why or why not? And what's keeping you from doing it if you think you'd be happier without it?
P.S. Since I know someone will ask, yes, I still have the Maggie Rose Interiors Facebook page. I felt that it was an important presence to have as a business. You need a personal account to manage a business page, so I have a dummy account that has no friends and I simply use the site as Maggie Rose Interiors. It was a simple change to make.