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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I turned off facebook (and you can too!)

It's been almost two months since I deactivated my facebook account. I've turned it off before but always found myself cheating and reactivating it once a week. This time around I legitimately just don't care what the people on my facebook page are doing anymore. In fact, I'm relieved to not know.

I really take issue with facebook for two key reasons. I know some people are upset about the advertising and the crummy privacy settings, and I agree those are all valid issues. But my primary issue with it is what it does to human interactions and the quality of my friendships.

  • There's something uncomfortable about knowing so much about people you never talk to. TMI. When you do run into them finally there's a real awkwardness when you have to pretend to have no idea that the other person was dumped/fired/engaged/knocked up. Worse than that, I found that I refused to post anything on my own facebook because I resented the fact that people would just look at that and never actually get in touch with me personally. If you want to know what's going on in my life how about you send me an email? Or text me? The more I interacted on facebook the fewer actual interactions I had. It aggravated me. I turned off my birthday notification the week before my birthday this summer to see who actually knew when my birthday way, and it was a good way to sort out who my real friends on there were! Since turning off FB one of my old friends actually emailed me to ask how I was doing. Less facebook stalking = more communication. 
  • My other issue is fact that majority of people on my FB are people I don't actually have any interest in. Still, somehow their big faces and babies of questionable cuteness show up on my feed. I realize I could just take them off the feed, but then why did I add them in the first place? Plus unfriending them seems like some sort of unconscionable social faux pas. Last time I turned off my FB one of my older quasi-friends who I never talk to assumed that I had unfriended her and was offended. The whole thing is ridiculous. It provides me with information about people who have no role in my life, yet I somehow feel compelled to read about them. I don't need to know that my ex-coworker's son likes to wear sunglasses and watch sports. I don't need to know that my old high school friend got food poisoning. I just don't. And it encourages my judgmental side to no end. 


So, to recap: 1) too much information without requiring actual interaction, and 2) way too many of the wrong people. Don't get me wrong though, it's (clearly) not that I disapprove of online communication. I love online communication. I've been on and off livejournal since 2000 or so. I really enjoy instagram (although I have unfriended people whose photos are unusually ostentatious. If all you're posting are pictures of yourself lighting $60 candles, drinking cocktails, and wearing $600 designer cat shoes, there's a problem. That's a post for another day though...). The difference is that there's not the same expectation to add every person you've ever worked with and that the communication is more genuine (minus aforementioned instagramers). I've made longterm friends on LJ who have come to visit me from across the country. Not so much on FB. Blogging is clearly less intimate, but so many bloggers do put themselves out there in a way that fosters actual dialogue. 

So if you're irritated that you are spending time facebook stalking people you haven't talked to in years, or if you are tired of people knowing what you are doing and in turn never actually talking to you, then I suggest turning the darn thing off for a week. Then at the end of that week turn it back on and scroll through the missed posts and ask yourself:
  • Did I actually miss out on anything? Is any of this news important?
  • If something important did happen why didn't they let me know? Are these people actually interested in maintaining a friendship with me personally?
  • Did I focus more on my immediate friends and family?
  • Did I spend time on reaching out to individual long distance friends instead?
  • Do I feel better without reading all of this information every day (several times a day)?
For me at least I've realized that it's really not information I need, and if anything it makes me feel kind of disconnected and burnt out from information overload. It also encourages me to either think negatively of others because I am judging them or because I feel like I'm in competition with them. Am I tempted to turn it back on when I graduate just to gloat? Yes, that thought has crossed my mind! But I think that's the whole point. That's kind of a ridiculous and unpleasant thing to do and just further plays into the fact that people generally only post for congratulations or sympathy. I'm choosing to squash that part of my psyche, and someone please hold me to that! 

22 comments:

  1. This is a phenomenal post. I really agree with your argument - I find the psychology of attention seeking and over-sharing is really difficult to manage sometimes. Sadly my degree is essentially run through facebook - everything is coordinated through message threads etc, which ties you into it, but for a long time I have been planning, the day I graduate will be the day I shut it all down. I don't feel like it makes me a fair or nice person!

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    1. Thankfully my department does everything through email list-serves so I don't miss anything actually important. I think you're spot on about it not making people nice! I try to not think poorly of others, but when people put their business right under my nose it's sometimes hard to not indulge a little bit of joy at the expense of others.

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  2. Although I do feel the same as you about this blowup of social media and having to keep up with every single person you meet, I do still have a Facebook. But my only friends are my family and my close friends. Facebook messaging is the only communication I have with any of them. I want to keep up with them and they want to keep up with me, see my travel pictures, etc. I don't post much, usually once or twice a week with current events in my Italian life or travel pictures (which is pretty rare).
    I really don't understand the hype of having ____ amount of Facebook friends. Or having to update your status several times a day about what you're doing, bragging about this, ranting about that, or even taking ____ amount of profile pictures with the exact same facial expression and same pose.
    It really is beyond me.

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    1. I can definitely see how it would be nice in that kind of scenario. But I have probably a 100 people on there who I just never communicate with and haven't talked to in person in years (if ever!). I think that's the case for most people now. It just kind of ballooned and got out of control because it's rude to say no to friend requests!

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  3. this is great! I completely agree with you. I hardly ever make a status update (I don't want people knowing my business) I don't keep any information up (like relationship status, work history, etc.) because I don't want people to know! But, deactivating my profile also gives me anxiety. I like being tagged in photos because otherwise I would never see them, and I do talk to one or two people that I wouldn't otherwise have a way of contact. So, for those reasons I do keep it. And sometimes, seeing the horrendousness of other peoples lives makes me feel a bit better about myself haha!

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    1. There are definitely a handful of people who I legitimately want to keep in touch with. I'll probably turn it back on again when I move for a day or two just to post my new contact information. But if people don't want to make the effort to keep in touch that's on them finally!

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  4. Congratulations on quitting Facebook! This is something I've been questioning doing for some time now. I'm just afraid that there are certain people I will have a hard time keeping in touch with without it.

    <3 Melissa
    wildflwrchild.blogspot.com

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    1. I'd like to think that the people who really want to keep in touch will find a way! You're right though. Some people seem to just refuse to use anything but facebook. Ultimately that's their choice though!

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  5. Right on! I feel exactly the same way about facebook - TMI about everyone that I really don't even talk to so why should it matter?! A few months back I deleted everyone except my brothers, their wives and my mom. All of which I talk to regularly anyway, it's just nice to see the photos they post.

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    1. I wish I could do that! I think that's the only way I'd ever feel comfortable on FB. I have way too many people on there who I need to interact with professionally and who would take it the wrong way if I unfriended them personally though.

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  6. Kudos for turning it off! It feels so good to unplug sometimes. FB really does negatively affect the way people deal with other people. I don't like it.

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    1. It takes a while to break the habit, but it's really kind of a relief to not have it on my radar anymore.

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  7. Good for you for turning it off!! I've thought about it a few times!

    <3Chelsea Elizabeth

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    1. It's such a relief once it's out of your system finally. It makes it easier to mind my own business!

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  8. I so wish I could do it too! I always admire people who do it. Right now, my excuse for not deactivating it is that I live abroad and I want to stay in contact with my friends which I, sadly, wouldn't otherwise.

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    1. I think that's the tricky thing. My one friend in Sweden who I talk to regularly thankfully doesn't have FB either so she's perfectly happy emailing me. I think I decided I would rather just keep up with the friends who feel like putting in the efforts to talk to me individually!

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  9. I hate Facebook and I hate what it has done to my friends and family. :(

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way at least! It just makes everything so impersonal...

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  10. I deactivated my Facebook account too!! I'm on Google Plus instead. I find to be Google Plus to be a more welcoming environment to connection and compassion. Also Google has proven that they keep our privacy in mind. I've long and gotten rid of it and don't miss it one bit!

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    1. I was so excited when google plus came out but then no one I want to keep in touch with seemed to want to use it! So now it just sits there and I never do anything with it!

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    2. That tends to be what a lot of people say about Google Plus. I suppose the best way to explain Google Plus is that it's nothing like Facebook. Facebook is about connecting with people you used to know or had some memory with. Google plus is about connecting with people you've never met. So anyone who uses Google Plus regularly will tell you that to really benefit from it, to start adding people. Now I can hop into my feed and I know I'll read all kinds of things that interest me because I added people with shared interests. I even have a vegan circle. :)

      Also I wanted to say thanks for this post because I was planning on posting about why I deleted my Facebook account. I was nervous about putting out too much personal information on my blog (for fear of pushing people away), even though I'm a very public person (even all of my stuff on G+ I set to public), but I eventually started doing it and it's very freeing. Some of my reasons are the same, as well as some additional ones. So I'm excited to write it!

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    3. Yeah most of the people on mine are people from a vegan forum I used to read a lot, but I realized I'm just not that interested in reading about people I don't know! Somehow on blogs I like it, but on social media it's just not that interesting.

      I know what you mean. I made a decision to not put pictures of myself up in an effort to increase my comfort level with sharing things. So far so good, but the really personal stuff is still staying in my locked up lj! Looking forward ti your facebook post!

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