I’m like most in that I like to think I’m unique, but I’ll be honest–in many ways I’m just your average fad-following college senior. In the morning I sometimes snooze my alarm too many times. I get out of bed and throw on my fake Ugg boots before I trek across my snowy campus to a long day of classes and my coffee shop job. I’m sometimes guilty of coming home to procrastinate my homework into the wee hours of the next morning. But there’s one thing that’s not a part of my very typical college day anymore–Facebook. In fact, this month marks my one year anniversary of the date that I and the extremely addicting social networking site parted ways. While I’d love to say I’ve never looked back, I’d be lying. And although I have my reasons for leaving and continually make the decision not to reactivate, it’s not because there are no reasons to get back on.
When I deactivated my Facebook, I thought I’d keep my distance for about a week. I had some personal reasons, but mainly I wanted a detox. I wanted a break from the minute-by-minute update of what everyone including my brother’s girlfriend’s cousin that I met once at that party was doing. I didn’t sit and think about it for a long time, or weigh the pros and cons like I’m doing now. I went for a run one morning, and somewhere around the stadium I decided to deactivate my account. When I got back, I did just that–even before I took off my running shoes.
After a few days, I realized how much more time I had for myself when I wasn’t “stalking” everyone I had ever known, not looking for who had gotten married, who was taking a trip to Europe, or who was sitting at home posting their every thought on their profile. Those people who needed to get in touch with me called or e-mailed, and I was still fully aware of events taking place. I realized I could still be fully informed on the things I actually cared about–my close friends, my family, and my college experience–without constantly turning to Facebook. I realized I didn’t miss it, and I actually kind of liked not feeling so tied to my computer. I had fewer distractions, and it felt like magically hours of my life had been handed back to me to use as I pleased. In fact, my grades since I deactivated are the best they’ve ever been, and while that may or may not be directly related, it’s worth noting. As a bonus, I no longer worry about what to post or not to post on my profile to protect the image I present to potential employers. Ultimately, it was just the detox I was looking for, and in some ways it feels like a weight has been lifted from my life. Like any habit, it wasn’t easy to break, but before I knew it, it had been months since I’d made the decision to quit.
While demands from my friends and family that I reactivate my account aren’t enough to pull me back to the site, that isn’t to say that I’ve never feel any pull. For instance, when my friend who was abroad in London went to Jane Austen’s house, I was dying to see the pictures and begged another friend to show them to me. When certain stores, restaurant, companies, or music artists have promotions which would require me to “like” something on their Facebook page, I sometimes get a little down that I can’t participate. Even seeing “The Social Network” made me a little intrigued to see what’s been happening on the site since I left.
Surprisingly, though, the number one reason I’ve been feeling Facebook’s pull lately is quite different from anything I thought might bring me back. Despite those previously mentioned warning lists about cleaning up your page for career networking purposes, I’ve actually started to worry more that my lack of Facebook profile might tell my potential employers I’m not experienced in social networking. In pursuing a career in publishing, I’ve often been asked if I am familiar with different social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Though I feel confident in my abilities to network online, I have worried that until I reactivate my account, I will have a hard time proving that.
In the end, I’d recommend giving a Facebook detox a shot. Take a month off. OK, maybe for most that’s a lofty goal. But even try a week. A day? Whether I decide to log back on tomorrow, next week, or never, my Facebook hiatus turned out to be exactly what I needed to help me reevaluate both my Internet activity and my life.
Have you done the Facebook detox? What was your experience like?
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