To start off , I want to state this for the record: one week without Facebook was one of the most tiring, trying, and yet, interestingly liberating things I have ever done. Granted, out of all the rules I made myself for this week, it was the only one that I was able to keep. Nonetheless, this past week has not only taught me about myself, but also about our dependence as a whole on social networking and the Internet at large.
In the beginning, I definitely tried to keep with all the regulations I put on myself: no YouTube, no electronic news, restricted e-mail use, etc. But even on the first day, I had many problems keeping up with all my rules. For example, there was no way that I could only spend five minutes a day on my e-mail accounts. By the time it took me to read just one or two of my e-mails, I had burned through nearly all of my time and still had not responded to all of them. I also found myself spending a lot of the time I would have devoted to searching for random things online either listening to music or lying around doing nothing.
That is not to say that I did not use any of my newly found time on important matters that needed to be attended to, it is just that nine times out of 10, I decided not to. Of course, going cold turkey on any major addiction instead of a rationed-out withdrawal has a higher chance of relapse. And I did find myself cheating and reading an article on Yahoo after I had just checked my mail (many times not on purpose, but through force of habit).
Yet, the one thing that I did manage to keep to was my main objective: No Facebook. And as I said above, I learned a lot. Obviously too much of a good thing is never good at all, and I noticed that once I took myself out of the rat race for a while, I started to see the benefits immediately. Instead of just trying to simplify my day into a few words for a status, I started to appreciate all the little nuances of what made it so good, bad, or regular. I would start catching myself looking at things and saying “That would be something funny to put on… oh wait!” and stand in astonishment at just how much I had removed myself from the real world. The biggest benefit, though, was the sleep. After just a few days of no Facebook, I was starting to sleep much better, especially since I was not staying up late talking to people on Facebook chat.
I will not lie; there was one primarily large drawback to this experiment that made me think twice about completely stopping my use of Facebook. Even though I was much more engaged with my immediate surroundings, I still felt somewhat isolated, only this time it was from my family and friends that lived in other parts of the world. After just one week away from Facebook relationships had ended, jobs were gotten, exams were taken, and a plethora of other things were going on that I had no idea about. It reminded me that there is more to this world than just myself. In effect, many events took place and lives may have very well changed on a dramatic level, and I would have been none the wiser.
In summation, Facebook is amazing. I bet you are saying to yourself, “Has this guy learned nothing?” Well, I have. Like all good things, social media, networking and the Internet as a whole are great institutions that can make our lives easier. But, we need to take some precaution. I am not trying to insinuate that there is an epidemic going on, but we cannot lie to ourselves anymore and say that there is not a problem. When I got back on Facebook after a week I had two new friend requests, 10 new messages in my inbox, and 33 notifications (not counting the 111 “happy birthday” messages I received as well.) Now, while all this is grand and exciting to be greeted with, does it really matter? What I mean is, does all the time we spend “poking” each other really do what we intend it to do? The point of the Internet is to not only keep us all well-informed, but also to keep us connected with one another. But I am afraid that this luxury is taken for granted way too oft en, as many will sett le for the short and quick “hello” on someone’s Wall out of ritual, as opposed to actually caring how their day went. I do not want to sound like I am on a soapbox, but I do hope you will let me make a suggestion. Get off Facebook sometime and actually meet people. And if you cannot get together with them, then call someone up. Hear their voice and take the time to have an actual conversation with them. I know it may not seem like much, but trust me, it makes an entire world of difference.