College Without Facebook: A Journey Into the Not-So-Distant Past

College without Facebook.  It sounds like a punishment (“Go to your room…and no Facebook!”) or an alternate reality wherein shy kids are doomed to face-to-face interactions and future employers have no basis to judge professionalism based on a crazy foam party.  But let’s imagine, for just 1,000 words or so, what college would be like without it.  Take a deep breath, log out (seriously, I’ll, don’t just minimize…) and venture through the rabbit hole into college life, without Facebook. 

Happy Birthday To…?

It seems like a normal day—you put off your morning jog because your alarm “didn’t go off” and grab coffee and a granola bar at the student center on your way to class.  You find a seat next to your friend in the half-full lecture hall (it’s still early in the semester so no one feels compelled to learn about Margaret Mead just yet) and start a conversation about the weather.  Or something.  But your friend isn’t making eye contact, she keeps checking her phone, she seems to be waiting for you to share some exciting bit of news. 

As you’re leaving the classroom, a bubbly girl runs up to your friend and hugs her.  “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” she shouts.  You completely forgot.  No Facebook, no birthday reminders, no friend-of-the-year award.  Maybe next year.

Call Me Beep Me If You Want To Reach Me

Losing your phone is (hopefully) the closest you’ll ever come to living out the recurring nightmare where you show up topless to the junior prom.  You feel naked, baffled, isolated, stupid, confused, and completely out of touch.  And without that helpful (albeit horribly annoying) “I lost my number” Facebook event, you would have to get creative in order to retrieve all of the missing digits.  As entertaining as large chalk signs on sidewalks, helicopters dropping slips of confetti with your new number, and renting radio time to make a public announcement may be, it’s just not as practical as a (horribly annoying) group.  No Facebook in college? Good luck maintaining friendships after phone theft.

I’m Here!

What is it about college that facilitates this weird social standard that if you’re not out every night having the time of your life, you must be a librarian or an engineering student?  Not only do we go to parties to dress in themed costumes and grind with guys we’re too scared to talk to sober, we go to be seen.  But imagine a world without the weekend Facebook albums documenting exactly who was doing what with whom in such-and-such a place.  You’d be free to grab your girls and cuddle up in your jammies with a romantic comedy, a tub of cookie dough, and a grocery store bottle of wine, and no one would be the wiser.  Can you image the possibilities?! “Yeah I was totally at last night’s rager…”  They won’t remember, and without Facebook, your secret is safe with me, and Hugh Grant.

Exam Week

Mark Zuckerburg is said to periodically wake up in a cold sweat, shuddering in terror while muttering to himself “exam week…exam week…”  (No one knows for sure because he doesn’t have many sleepovers and his neighbors have never heard a peep--bags of money are rather effective at stifling noise.)  But one thing is sure: final exam period is the time when college and Facebook butt heads, each vying for supremacy in the collegiette’s™ perpetually decreasing free time.  But an exam week without Facebook—as torturous as it may be—has a relatively simple and predictable outcome: better grades.  It’s something we actually can imagine.  Sorry, Mark.

Rachel Peck is a senior at Barnard College, Class of 2012, where she is majoring in English and Theatre and minoring in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Although she admits to actually enjoying high school in her hometown of Bexley, OH, her favorite thing to do is explore her new--slightly more exciting--home, New York City. When she isn't watching good (and bad...) TV, finding excuses to plan dinner with friends, window shopping, or napping, Rachel enjoys working for the Barnard admissions office, serving on her sorority's various boards, and writing for whoever will read it.  You can also follow her on Twitter (@peckrachel) if you're into that.

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