In the summer of 2009, my then-girlfriend jammed a sternum-cracking breakup straight to my chest 48 hours after being featured in my sister’s wedding. A few weeks later, I made a decision few in my generation would take lightly: I quit Facebook.
I deactivated my account, telling my friends and family that it was a waste of time, which was part of the reason – the other reason being not wanting to face pictures of my girlfriend moving on without me. Since that fateful day, I have found other ways to justify my absence, and I have never felt more liberated. While this move is unimaginable to many of you, bidding adieu to Facebook will actually strengthen your existing relationships and enhance your social life.
Pulling my name out of Facebook’s enormous hat forced me to keep in touch with only those that “mattered.” While abroad, Facebook was essential for proving to people that there really was a Pizza Hut in front of the pyramids in Giza, but stateside, my decision to jettison Facebook has drawn me closer to those that matter and allowed peripheral acquaintances to fade away naturally. I can no longer just toss a meaningless “Happy Birthday, Ugly!” on my friends’ Facebook walls, but instead must call them to express such sentiments. Meanwhile, I have lost touch with some people I truly enjoyed; but am I really missing out on occasional messages from that one guy that urged me to solicit the company of Kenyan prostitutes? I think not.
Not only has “de-Facing” helped me nurture my existing relationships, but it has also forced me to rely on more traditional social conventions to create new bonds. These days, it is common to see an attractive girl, search for her on Facebook, click a button, and call yourself “friends.” Not having that option has made meeting new friends, females and males alike, inextricably more personal and forced me to relearn basic conversation skills. Additionally, when people find out I am not on Facebook, it is without fail a splendid conversation starter, and it adds a certain element of “mystery” to my life, so I have been told.
Additionally, since I am not preoccupied with trying to figure out why the kid I sat behind in Algebra is no longer “in a relationship,” I have learned to use my time far more wisely. For instance, I have far more time to participate in some interesting debates, publish articles, and learn a slew of ten-dollar words. My favorite post-Facebook activity is something a friend and I call “wiki-learning:” an exercise where one of us selects a random topic (anything from NFL football stadiums to the Franco-Prussian War) and learn as much as we possibly can about it. I surely never learned anything half as useful while prowling through Facebook.
To be sure, I don’t dislike Facebook in particular, nor do I scoff at those who use and enjoy social media in general. In fact, I am an avid Twitter user, consuming my news almost exclusively 140 characters at a time. I cannot and will not debate the merits of social media; it has indisputably changed the way we communicate, and will likely play a role in social and political movements for decades to come. I have toyed with the idea of logging back in, but prying Facebook’s sticky tentacles out of my life has inexorably improved my life, and I urge you to give it a shot, if only for a week.
Who knows? You just might learn something.
Photo Credit: west.m