In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with the intent of making the world more open and connected. It was an admirable, exciting and exploratory venture into the relatively untapped realm of social networking from which the world has never looked back. Six years down the line, I’ve dipped my toes into the pool of possibility it offers and come to the decision that Facebook isn’t for me. Why? Well, I have 700 words to convince you that in deactivating my account, I haven’t signed away my social life and that there is indeed life beyond Facebook. Here goes…
When people hear that you don’t have Facebook, they usually assume one of two things. That you’re either a) a bit of a freak/social outcast or b) trying to be so alternative and ‘out there’ by making a statement in not conforming to the norm. I can assure you. I fall into neither category. Last time I checked, my social skills were still intact and there’s no hidden agenda behind my boycott of Facebook. I simply have no desire for it anymore, that’s all there is to it. Promise.
I first deactivated my account at the end of second year and only came running back, tail between my legs, when I was somewhere in the depths of Eastern Europe during the summer, having run out of credit on my phone, forgotten the pin to my savings account and failing email needed to contact my little brother on Facebook in order to get a hold of my parents. So yes, sometimes it’s useful, I’ll grant you that Mr Zuckerberg.
But useful doesn’t always translate as necessary and my impression is that people are more and more depending upon Facebook as a ‘necessary’ aspect of their lives. Worrying about Facebook has become a hassle and a distraction that I think we would all be better without. At the end of the day, I figure that if something is important enough or somebody really needs to get in contact with me they will by some other means. Facebook isn’t the be all and end all of communication. The world got along just fine before, did it not?
Personally, I love meeting up with friends and catching up without already knowing everything beforehand because Facebook got the exclusive. I appreciate that the social networking site is a brilliant way of sharing photos, especially if friends are on a year abroad or gap year or such and you aren’t going to be in the same place at the same time for a while. Aside from that though, there is that really genuine, lovely experience of sitting down with a bunch of photos and spending forever going through them, with friends in fits of laughter as you explain the story behind each photograph. These feelings and memories are all lost in the manic clicking marathon people are transfixed by, as they flick through photo after photo at breakneck speed, as though they’re going to disappear any second. Yes, I’m referring to you lot who sit in the library on Facebook, absent-mindedly cyber stalking people you aren’t even friends with and call it procrastination. Get back to work and let me do mine.
Mark Zuckerberg created a wonderful and engaging tool in Facebook with the potential to bring people all over the world together. My point is simply that social networking is not the only way to do this, it just makes it easier. A handwritten letter or postcard is much more personal and heart-warming. However, I do understand that this isn’t always possible and that is where the ease of Facebook comes into its own, in enabling people to stay in touch so easily.
I could write another 700 words and try to convince you all to ditch Facebook as well, but somehow I just can’t see that happening. Maybe it’s a fad, maybe it’s here to stay; at present the future of Facebook is uncertain. For now though, I’m opting out in the wake of a surprise birthday party my flatmates secretly organised for me through Facebook; I told you there were benefits to not having it. And to end, I will admit the rather ironic fact that this article will indeed probably be advertised via Facebook. Awkward.