It took me a long time to cave and get an account in the first place. My excuses for avoiding Facebook were from the elitist (“It only serves to turn relationships into convenient commodities and doesn’t actually improve social interactions in a positive way”) to the ignorant (“It’s for narcissistic wankers”). I can be a bit of a digital curmudgeon.
However, I’ve had an account for nearly two years now. In that time I’ve come to rely on Facebook quite a lot for managing a good portion of my social activity online. It managed to practically replace email and the phone for planning get-togethers and keeping in touch with friends. The speed of communication was probably the most addicting: I could see upcoming events and plan which ones to attend and upload photos of the event during my attendance. I could silently watch what everyone else was up to. By the time I deleted my account I was probably checking up on my Facebook feed every couple of hours.
The one major concern of mine though, for some reason, has been privacy. I resisted getting an account because I was irrationally afraid that my identity could be stolen, that someone might try to stalk me, or that if my activities were not popular with people I was trying to get a job with or get to know that it might affect me negatively in some way. Eventually however I got over it and was pleased to know that at least I could keep my profile private and not share everything with everyone all of the time.
In the last few months things started to change. I began to notice that Facebook hasn’t actually enhanced my social life much and hasn’t garnered me any new friends. In fact, it’s probably had a negative impact on my social life: instead of finding a group of friends that stays tightly knit with weekend plans and hang-outs, we tend to spread ourselves out towards our personal interests. Facebook allows us to pick and choose events that please us — if you said you “might attend” one event early in the week but another event that tickles your fancy pops up, I find most people can’t resist the urge and cancel their earlier plans. This sort of thing has started to happen to me so often that it has become a real put-off. To top it all off, they recently changed the privacy settings so that my profile and some basic information about me is always available and always searchable. My inbox started filling up with emails and friend requests from people I had no intention of adding to my profile. Each person has the same question, “Why haven’t you added me?” Why should I have to explain this to people?
All of this is just too much. Facebook has become a burden on my conscience and it’s no longer worth carrying it. So I deleted my account earlier this week. We’ll see how that goes.
In the mean time, how has life without it been? Anxious, I’m sad to report. I’m left constantly wondering if I’m missing out and that’s probably the greatest nuisance of all. I know in reality I’m probably not missing anything. Just status updates, cheeky comments, and the next viral campaign most likely. So I’m now a digital nomad again, left to my curmudgeonly ways…