I was that dweeb who e-mailed your hotmail invitations to this new website called Facebook, in 2007. My decision to permanently leave Facebook for 2013, then, came as a surprise to many. “May I ask, why are you leaving?” was the number one final message my friends sent me when supplying me with their Gmail addresses, for my trek on over to email land.
The question should not be “why are you leaving?” but “what finally made you leave”? In my bag, I already took issue with its privacy (and corporate) concerns, time-wasting, inauthenticity, inefficacy as a political platform, narcissism, and so on. What finally made me leave was that, upon evaluation, I concluded that Facebook had not enriched my relationships or social life in a way in which e-mails and real life could not allow. Those friends I hung out with for a month on my trip abroad? It would be more meaningful for me to write them a long e-mail a couple times a year than watch their Saturday night photos roll in. Accepting a friendship request from an acquaintance from class, signalling a desire to maybe be on closer terms in real life? A smile on my part could have done just as well, if not better. Friends whom I chatted with near every day? One-liners on Facebook statuses will never stand up to extended conversation over coffee.
Anyway, the point of this blogpost is not to self-importantly expound upon my decision to opt out of this medium, but to share with you my experience of excessively hanging around the pointy edges of Gmail Inbox.
1. Facebook, no matter what we say about it being a beast (as Panopticon or soul-sucker), is not that big of a deal; it’s what you decide to do with your time on it, that like any other medium, makes the difference in your friendships (you can post links to pointless entertainment through either Facebook or email , just as you can post observations on love through either).
2. You will probably end up procrastinating anyway, if not on Facebook, then mid-guitar stroke; your eyes will gloss over and think of other, unimportant things.
3. People respond to e-mails much slower than to their Facebook messages.
4. You won’t really know what you ‘re missing out on Facebook if and until you hear about it through another medium…those few times might be shocking, but most of the time you are ignorant of your ignorance, so it’s not an issue.
5. You have to make modifications in your life to make new friends; smile more, take risks by explicitly asking people for their contact, go out more, and so on. At the end of a month without Facebook, I do think it would be easier, socially, to go back.
6. What I miss:
*Facebook events: I know for a fact that I have missed out on some good activist events and, while social events can be co-ordinated through e-mail, they are cumbersome.
*Facebook chat: as unreliable as this software was, it is the only socially acceptable means of instant talk available today. Indeed, I am writing this blogpost precisely because, exhibiting hermit-like tendencies today, I had an urge for chatting but no one to be with on demand.
7. Your relationships with a few close friends, and a few distant friends, will likely flourish. Your relationships with some of your acquaintances will probably suffer.
8. Sometimes you will look at your Twitter feed with such dissatisfaction.
Overall, it’s difficult. It does not surprise me that people always go back. I tend to abstain from a lot of common activities though (driving, shopping, beauty work, drinking, etc.) so I think I can handle being an outcast in yet another respect. I think. It helps that I permanently deleted, not merely deactivated, my account!
P.S. If you’re a friend seeing this and would like to be sent an e-mail occasionally, let me know at miriamsabz (@) gmail.com.