announcing the death knell of my facebook account

by Sandra

Facebook is no more. Not the website itself, that still exists—I’m talking about my personal profile, which has laid quietly dormant since Sunday in a kind of virtual hinterland known as “deactivation.”

I’ve gotten many questions this week asking why I’ve gone and done such a thing. To some it seems … well, crazy, since Facebook, as a legitimate tool of communication, has become nearly de rigueur; everyone has one:  my high school choir director, my rather elderly aunt, even the dog of a friend from college. Yes, a dog. To not have one, nee, to be someone who used to have one and does not anymore, comes with a set of conseqences—I will miss out on the comings and goings of my cohort—not only the evidence of such in the form of semi-drunken, poorly composed, flash-heavy party photos, but also the arrangement and execution of said social functions, should event organizers not wish to spend an extra minute or so sending an old-fashioned email. However, I’d rather take the risk of social ostracization than let Facebook continue its insidious electronic reign over my life. The reason is two-fold. Let me explain …

That’s a scary word, isn’t it, addiction? Fraught with meaning, true, and perhaps a tad dramatic to describe my relationship with Facebook, but I come from addictive personality stock—I know what this feels like, my dad struggled with his own addictions throughout his life. For example, years ago, before he was anyone’s father, his love of alcohol led him to wrap his car around the business end of a tree trunk. More recently, his utter devotion to Tetris caused the outline of the rectangular playing field to be burned, yes burned, forever imprinted into our television screen. To get himself to stop, he eventually had to take an axe to the game cartridge. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of people we are: axe chopping people. Cold turkey people. Deactivation people.

I wish, wish, that I was one of those types who could look at Facebook once a day, or once a week, or once a month and not think about it otherwise. But I’m not. Instead, I’m the kind who has to look at it every 30 minutes, even if I know nothing had changed, even when I don’t feel like doing it, I still do. Is it necessary for me to know what happened during the Thanksgiving dinner of a friend of a friend from somewhere in the Midwest of whom I have never heard? Nope, but I saw a bunch of their photos, too.

False Connection vs. Real Connection
And that’s the other reason I dumped Facebook—because it’s the antithesis of all it’s purported to be:  a way to connect to people and build community. Now it’s true that Facebook helped me connect to others, it’s a connection tool and that it does very well—it’s helped me build shallow, tenuous connections with 500 people I know (mostly tangentially). I don’t have 500 friends, not by a long shot, but given the ability to read their status updates, look at their wedding photos, and write on their “walls,” I started to feel like I had 500 best friends. I don’t like to let people in very often to begin with, but even I began to realize that pithy comments and snarky articles are no substitute for real friendships. Facebook made it way too easy for me to hide in plain sight, to avoid the hard work of developing deep relationships with real people, right in front of me.

I had a social life for the 27 years before I was on Facebook, and somehow I know I’ll manage to have one again. I don’t hate Facebook, and I hope that you have not read this as some sort of anti-Facebook screed, which it is not. But for me, I knew that it was time to get out. Get out and regain my sanity, productivity, life. If others feel the same way and are inspired by my decision, then great! Maybe 2010 will be the year of breaking free from our electronic chains.