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Op-Ed: Why I Got Rid Of My Facebook

I thought deleting my Facebook would be the equivalent to cutting off a limb, but decided to try it anyway. I used to love mindlessly spending hours on Facebook; whenever I opened my computer I would automatically type in “Facebook.com” without even thinking. I would check my phone incessantly for notifications and new tags. “Pathetic” is the word that now comes to mind to describe all this.  

It wasn’t until my two best friends at different colleges deleted their Facebooks on account of the job hunt that I began to question the necessity of the site that had literally consumed the last five years of my life.

One day while I was perusing Facebook, I read a status that said that all inbox messages from certain years had become public on timeline. While I really didn’t know if this was true, I completely freaked out thinking everyone could see my private conversations. I realized I had been putting way too much time into Facebook thinking back to all the messages I had sent and received. I thought about how my two friends had nothing to worry about without Facebook and I envied how carefree they were.

Once I denounced Facebook I had realizations that I never would have had had I let the false reality of the internet continue to waste my time.

Facebook encourages you to judge someone based on that person’s online persona, a few statuses and some profile pictures. People are overconfident in Facebook relationships, they think they have all of these friends when in reality, a Facebook friendship is nothing like a real friendship. You think you know someone because you’re friends on Facebook, you think you know who their friends are and what they’re like, yet you may have never even had a real conversation with them face-to-face.

Without Facebook, we bring back a sense of mystery currently lacking in our culture, you have to actually spend time with someone in order to make assumptions about them; you have to be in their presence and talk to them. Without Facebook, you open up the opportunity to really make connections with people and you allow people to see you for who you really are, not the manufactured profiles you’ve created online.

For a lot of people, Facebook is really just a bragging tool: “look how awesome my life is and how much fun I have and how cool my friends are!” It’s a competition but it doesn’t matter how much time you spend trying to make yourself look cool, people are going to love or hate you just the same. Many Facebookers are caught up in the presentation of their profile—they go out with the intention of taking pictures for their online albums. How much fun were you really having if you were snapping photos for Facebook all night? The best nights, in my opinion, have always been the ones where you’re too caught up in the moment to whip out a camera and the only memories you have are the ones you’ve created for yourself in your mind.

When you don’t have a Facebook, you stop experiencing F.O.M.O (fear of missing out), because you have NO idea what other people are doing. You stop caring about who’s dating, who got super skinny, her designer clothes, how fun Mexico spring break was and so on, because FINALLY the only life you’re involved in is your own and those of the people you actually hang out with face-to-face.

I understand the connection aspect of Facebook involving friends you can’t see everyday.  I was abroad last semester, I have cousins overseas, but nothing is less personal than Facebook, so that’s not really an argument in my eyes. Are you really keeping in touch because you “like” their profile pictures every once in awhile?

Relationships in my life haven’t suffered without Facebook because I know that taking the extra step, calling, sending letters, iChatting, etc. is what is going to keep my friendships strong. Finding out about events publicized on Facebook can sometimes be a challenge, but most emails I receive have the same sort of information and living with sixteen girls, I receive the latest information in record time.

Life without Facebook is awesome. Besides the obvious extra time I have now that I don’t waste it on creeping, I am genuinely happy with my own life. Whenever it comes up that I no longer use Facebook, most people comment that they think it’s admirable, that they could never make that commitment.  But honestly, it’s a lot easier than you’d think. If you have the desire, deactivate your account. It wasn’t the biggest decision in my life, I’ll face bigger challenges, and for now, it’s what makes me happy.

Also, everyone knows someday all the information we’ve shared on Facebook will be public and in that case,  we’re S.O.L.

Think about it…

Caroline Finnegan is a rising junior in the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying news editorial journalism. She is the Contributing Editor and Weekly Columnist of  U of I’s branch of The Odyssey, a Greek newspaper, as well as the leader of ceremonial services and ritualistic practices of her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. She is currently working for a music promotions company and at her mom’s clothing store. Caroline hails from the Windy City and prefers everything Chicago style, including sailing on Lake Michigan, Jonathon Toews (and the Blackhawks), Wrigley Field and of course, Oprah. Some of her favorite things include: biographies, New Orleans. singing cards, and elephants. She aspires to become a writer for a television show like Saturday Night Live, or her favorite, Modern Family. Next Spring, she plans on studying in her Grandpa’s homeland of Italy. 
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