A week without … Facebook

For the past week I’ve been peaceful, productive and proactive. This was not due to an increase in motivation or caffeine, but the absence of another kind of drug: Facebook.

By now, we’ve all been subject to the temptations of Facebook and, when it comes to personal experience, my willpower is no match for them. I first noticed my addiction when I realized how frequent and personal my status updates had gotten. I began Facebook creeping during important lectures, creeping instead of writing essays, even creeping alone.

A friend of mine recently deactivated her Facebook account and told me she’d never been happier. Her relationships improved; her attention span was sharp and most importantly she was able to see who her true friends were.

I couldn’t help but envy this bold move and wish I had the self-discipline to do the same. Maybe I couldn’t quit cold turkey, but I decided to abstain from Facebook for one week. I kept a daily journal to effectively document my experiences and reflections drawn from my week without Facebook:

Days One-Three:

I set my final status update. Devon Butler is saying goodbye to Facebook for a whole week. Good luck to me. I’m already receiving comments with the most common reaction of “Why?” Well, why is it so absurd to want a life separate from the public eye? A breakthrough in my addiction was the awareness that I no longer enjoy the benefits of the site, rather I am chained to Facebook purely out of habitual nature.

Perhaps the absence of Facebook will enable me to accomplish what I set out to do each day. Suddenly, I am aware of time. Without spending those two hours on Facebook a night I’ve been able to finalize research and complete essays with additional time to spare. Perhaps I’m never as “busy” as I claim to be.

I think I understand what my friend was referring to when she said deleting Facebook makes you realize who your friends are. How many events, parties and get-togethers are planned via Facebook? These forms of communication make even the simplest plans unreliable. I discovered firsthand that people get upset when you don’t comply with arrangements constructed over wall-to-wall comments. You may say I’m old-fashioned, but I long for the days when friends would call me or better yet, come over just to say “Hey, want to hang out?”

Days Four-Six:
Last night I dreamed of Facebook. I had 88 vibrant red notification bubbles, ah the colour of popularity. Then I woke up. At what point did I start allowing Facebook to control my concept of identity or for that matter, my self-worth? To feel only as beautiful as my number of picture comments and only as likable as my quantity of wall posts. I think I am starting to understand the deeper psychological effects this site has on not just myself, but my entire generation.

It’s difficult enough feeling inadequate in personal aspects of your life, and Facebook is just another outlet to generate this negativity.

I thought that as I got further into this experiment I would long to look through friends compromising albums of drunken stupidity, self-deprecating status updates and the always stimulating “social interview questions.” Yet with each day, I missed it less and less until I realized I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, I felt more myself in these few days than I had since the blessed years before Facebook went viral.

Thus far, the only liberating experience of Facebook was blocking an ex-boyfriend. With this experience I learned that in one click of a button I could delete somebody’s entire existence from my life. This prospect went both ways. I too could delete myself from petty online social life and become a more active member in the real world.

Day Seven:

Today I make my return to Facebook. In reflecting on the past seven days, I’d say the experience has been entirely positive. I retreated to a simpler era; spent quality time with my family, had hour long phone conversations with my friends and did not let Facebook dictate the way I feel or behave.

With over 300 million users, there is a misconception that if you aren’t “on” Facebook, you aren’t current. Just because it has become a staple in pop culture, doesn’t mean it adds anything to civilization.

I’ll admit, Facebook is a convenient means of connecting with old friends, keeping in touch with new ones and getting in quick contact with someone. But there is a fine line to be drawn between your life and your life on Facebook. I may choose to abstain from Facebook in the future, and the next time I do, it will be permanent.

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