A week without Facebook

Since the beginning of this century, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other prominent social media have slowly, but surely, infiltrated our world.  Humans have existed for years and have managed to correspond with nothing but letters and actual interaction; In the pursuit of finding out how dependent we really are to society’s new electronic crutch, I am giving up facebook for one week.  This is how I fared:

Time 0

It is eight minutes after midnight, and I have just begun my seven-day journey without Facebook.  So far, it’s going well.

Day One (Wednesday)

This is not going well.  I don’t believe I am a Facebook addict, per sé, but I have already typed “www.faceb…” into my address bar at least seven times before catching myself. Facebook has actually become a component of my subconscious! I am not sure if I can even count the number of times today I’ve wanted to check a Facebook event or look at my friend’s profile pictures. As I did not have a lot of homework tonight, time I might have normally spent on Facebook turned into a three-hour nap. Now, I am getting ahead on my work because I cannot be distracted by my normal diversion.

Day Two (Thursday)

Today I found avoiding Facebook an easier task. However, I needed to contact a girl for a project for one of my classes, and I soon realized the only method of communication I use with her is Facebook. I found her number later, but I started thinking about how much we use Facebook to keep in touch with others. I was later reminded of this when I learned that one of my sorority sisters had tried to contact me on Facebook the other night, but I missed the message. Facebook may waste a lot of our time, but it also provides a really useful tool for getting invites to events, messages from friends, and even opportunities for networking with groups. I’m starting to realize why Facebook seems so necessary for our society today.

Day Three (Friday)

My friends from high school figured out that I am giving up Facebook for the week, and they have started “liking” every picture, status, wall post, and tag on my profile to mess with me. Other friends have told me that they have at least 100 notifications just from Facebook “likes.” Not being able to check Facebook has started to make me a little antsy. What if something really important is buried under there? I got so much homework done today with time to still hang out with my friends, but I also feel a little disconnected from everyone else; I am closer than ever to people in close proximity, but people without my cell phone can’t reach me. Is that a positive or a negative?

Day Four (Saturday)

So, before now, not being on Facebook hasn’t been too big of a deal.  I’ve gotten more work done, maybe missed a few messages or events, but overall, my lack of Facebook has not bothered me.  Today, however, I found myself seriously considering cheating and just checking—just for a second—before I finally reminded myself that I need to see the whole week through.  I actually had a dream last night about using Facebook (and it was awesome!), which to me says a lot about my Facebook usage.  I also noticed that Gmail has become my Facebook crutch: I’ve checked my e-mail much more frequently than ever before, hoping for an e-mail, spam or anything at all. Things have gotten pretty bad.

Day Five (Sunday)

Today feels different; I have thought about actually signing  in less, but I still can’t stop wondering what sort of notifications await me. I am almost dreading checking my Facebook, the way you dread a huge assignment looming in the future. I definitely think that if I had given up Facebook forever instead of just for the week, I would feel completely relieved. Still, the biggest wake up call happened when my own sister became frustrated that I had missed an important message from her that she sent on Facebook. When I asked her why she couldn’t call me, she paused for quite a long time. Finally, she said something that I think has become the mantra of our generation’s Facebook use: “It was just the natural thing to do.”

Day Six (Monday)

Not using Facebook has kept me away from my computer much more than normal—and I consider myself a non-techie.  I never play video games, I watch a limited amount of television and I did not spend that much time on the computer when I did not need to do so.  Or so I thought.  As it turns out, I saved an hour total on my online math homework because I was not checking Facebook in between.  Now that I’ve lasted six days (which, granted, is not even that much) I understand that going without Facebook seems to be better for time management and overall mental clarity, but I have also been missing out on event invites, group postings, seeing pictures of myself that others have posted, and generally useful portions of our interconnected world.  Before this week, I definitely thought the world might be a better place if Facebook went away.  This week, I truly have no idea whether a world with Facebook helps us or hurts us.

Day Seven/checking my Facebook (Tuesday)

I spent a lot of the day watching the clock, but when it came time for me to actually get on Facebook, I was not that excited.  I spend less than 15 minutes, checking my notifications and once I was done, I signed off.  Perhaps my disinterest will fade as time goes on, but for the moment, I am largely unaffected emotionally by the return of Facebook to my life.

Even with an anticlimactic ending to the week, I feel like I know a little bit more about what Facebook means to me. For such an addicting entity, disconnecting from Facebook did not present any huge compulsion problems after day four.  Facebook’s worth cannot be denied. I spent a lot of time worrying about important messages I might have missed from my Facebook groups or from those who do not have my phone number. After all, our generation uses Facebook as a prime interactive tool.  Yet we are not dependent on Facebook; we need only ask for a friend’s phone number or e-mail to contact anyone we really want to get in contact with. Facebook provides one principal tool that we cannot supplement ourselves: the ability to enhance our group activity by having a place online where everyone can stay connected or post ideas, questions, and plans.

So, to all my friends and readers: next time you want to talk to me, just skip Facebook and give me a call.


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