Like a buffalo against the herd, I recently closed my Facebook account. Most people ask if I de-friended them. Or assume I gave it up for lent or a designated amount of time. Certainly radical behavior is only short and to prove a point or test one’s limits, but not a concrete long-term decision. But now that I’m months into a social networkless life, I begin to wonder if the civilized United States is progressing or not, and which side Facebook’s on. Maybe I’m just wierd to question that. But remember when new technology promised us easier ways to connect with people then secretly stole from us the very basic need of truly connecting? I haven’t recently uploaded 500 pictures from my 75 megapixel camera, but I talked to my neighbors this morning. And I know their names.
Social websites have spread friendships wide at the cost of depth.
Something else I noticed is that I was spending too much time maintaining the online image of me. From uploading pictures, writing status updates, I was projecting who I wanted people to see. It was an exhausting one way conversation all about me! Honestly, I needed a little less barking and a little more action. So I closed my account. I can testify that it’s tough to communicate without Facebook, however, I use my phone to talk more now, imagine that!
Reverting to the traditional ways of communicating, that’s progress. Friendships becoming real again. Not just letters on a flat screen monitor. Staying “off the grid” has already proved beneficial: it’s given me more time, and added some mystery to outsiders. It’s also eliminated sources of stress because keeping up with the online image was exhausting, sometimes aggravating, but none of it was satisfactioning me! It would take another mighty movement to revert back to simple communication on a national or global scale, where we have a few close friends instead of hundreds of acquaintances.
“Now that I do know what it is, I have to say,
it seems like a huge waste of time.”
–Betty White about Facebook, Saturday Night Live, May 2010