I am fairly certain that to many people the title sounds just as bad as reading “Life without limbs”, and this is actually the main reason I am sharing my thoughts on the matter. Can a person actually live without Facebook? Does not having Facebook have any drawbacks at all? Do you become suspicious in the eyes of others for not being an avid follower of the Zuckerberg era?
Well, let’s see… My girlfriend’s daughter – fourteen – who used to have less presence on Facebook than me, deleted her account. Then, her mother, who had Facebook mostly because of me, to be supportive of her daughter’s decision, deleted her account as well. My story however, was a wee bit different. I was an avid user of Facebook. Had it on my laptop, desktop, tablet, phone and if I could have implanted it in my eye, I would have probably done that too. Never had a ton of friends, tried to keep the numbers always below 150 or 100, by having a simple motto “no contact in 6 month, you’re gone”. On a good day I used up around 1 hour of my day for various Facebook activities, like posting status messages, sharing stuff, posting pictures, chatting with my friends, etc. Only social stuff, no games. However, on a bad day – which usually was any of the 100 friends’ bad day – the one hour stretched into 2-4 hours. That’s a lot. I ended up using Facebook on an average of about 10-12 hours a week. That’s a heck of a lot more time than I could afford. I was definitely losing time. About 4 days a month, bulking up to about 50 days a year, which – if my math is correct – is almost 2 months!
Now, because I mentioned friends in the previous paragraph, I feel the need to analyze this a tad more. People do not know any more what friendship is. Even I had serious trouble getting the real meaning of the word. Facebook friends however, are not friends. They are people who are curious about your life, but usually do not have the time or possibility to go out with you for a drink, to come over for a movie night, people who do not, and believe you me, they do not know when your birthday is, and all you’ll get is a wee poke or a quick message on your wall because Facebook is reminding them to do so. I tested this out, and guess what? I’m right! Hide your birthday, block wall posts for a few days, and watch how many people will take the time to write you a personal message for your birthday. In 2011, I got over 60 birthday wishes on my wall, in 2012 I got 3 private messages. Suspend your account for 2 weeks and watch how many people will try and get hold of you in some other way. If you’re lucky, there’ll be about 1-3 people out of every 100 Facebook friends you got.
Closely related to “friendships” on Facebook, are also the types of relationships you develop. Now, I’ll have to admit that my present, second-longest, and most meaningful relationship started out on Facebook, for which I am grateful to Mr. Zuckerberg, but my gratitude will not extend too far because it was also Facebook that almost blew this wonderful relationship into oblivion. The issue is that people on Facebook tend to behave differently, talk differently and very often inadvertently develop so-called Facebook relationships, that in real life would be called flirting by crossing a wee bit the boundaries of classical friendships. However all that, regardless of its intended or unintended nature, can come back and bite you in the bottom, when you actually do have a serious relationship. For all those other people that you have known before, you will still be the same, therefore, they will keep their conversations with you on the same level as before, because frankly, they all feel that Facebook is a safe bubble. You see, flirting is good and necessary for a single person, and in the real world when a person enters a relationship, the flirting with others stops. But for most people, Facebook is a different world, one where they can do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing in the real world, one where nothing really matters. But it does, and there is no real solution to explaining a dozen or two women that now you’ve got a girlfriend, therefore friendship boundaries cannot be overstepped any more. They will also not understand that you cannot be there any more for all their emotional needs, existential dilemmas or post-break-up venting periods. Facebook is not a good guy’s world. People – whom you call your friends – will eat you alive, and leave your bones to dry.
Facebook is the high-street of gossipy grandmas. We are all appalled by people who gossip and we tend to hate these people. But isn’t Facebook the same? Isn’t Facebook based on curious and exhibitionist people who feel the need to share their life and munch on others’? What happens if you don’t? Do you end up a loner or a socially impaired individual? No. You’ll just have topics to talk about while drinking a beer with your friend, or at the Christmas dinner table with the family. Showing pictures will become once again something that will bring people to the same couch, or around the same table, and details of your life will always be said in an individual and personal manner. Those who care about you will find a way to contact you, and those who don’t, well, why would you want them anyway? Do you think you’ll become suspicious for not having Facebook? Of course not. There’s LinkedIn for everyone old enough to know what that is.
I have been living without Facebook for over 3 months now, and my life has definitely changed for the better in many ways. For one, my relationship has only strengthened since then, and what back then almost turned into a yet another 3 week relationship, has now become a 7 months and counting. I have a lot more time for myself and also managed to find time to study again. The only person’s emotional needs and existential dilemmas I have to care about, are my girlfriends’ which compared to what I was going through before, is a walk in the park and a slice of Heaven itself. I also feel protected knowing that personal details of my life are not on some website that anyone can access. I now know less about everyone else, therefore when I do actually talk to those 3 friends of mine, we have what to talk about, and it never ends in “oh yeah, I’ve seen it on Facebook”. You want your life back? Get rid of Facebook.