Pop-Culture | Posted by Fiona L on 12/19/2011

Breaking Up With Facebook

As much as my generation seems to support Facebook, I believe that underneath all that tagging and friending, there’s a deep-seated resentment that we’ve had to grow up in a world where it’s the norm to share your relationship status with strangers.

I’ve blogged before about the issues I think Facebook creates for teenage girls, and I’ve heard a lot more of my peers agreeing with me about the perils and annoyances of Facebook. My Facebook blog last year received more comments than any other piece I’ve posted, and it seems that many others share my attitude about Facebook: I wish that Facebook didn’t exist, yet I still have a Facebook for several reasons.

I hope to debunk the myth that all teenagers are drinking the facebook Kool-Aid and pose the question: will my generation ultimately defect from Facebook? Believe it or not, grownups, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a kid my age say they “love Facebook,” a two word pairing adults seem to imagine us uttering all the time. Clearly, despite its popularity, Facebook still strikes a lot of people in my generation as having negative impacts.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I keep my Facebook. In a nutshell, I have a Facebook because I’ve always been afraid that deactivating it would cause my friendships with certain people to suffer. I have a lot of friends who I don’t go to school with, including friends from other countries who I’ve met through international programs I’ve attended. I also use Facebook to communicate with classmates about schoolwork and organize logistics for clubs.

Finally, I use Facebook because no one in my generation checks their email! Teenagers reading this: WTF? Like, maybe I’m being retro and old in saying this but email is a great way to communicate—and if any of you used it, I wouldn’t have to be so dependent on Facebook!

A few weeks ago, I set out to interview my friend, and Rachel Simmons’s former teen blogger, Lilly about her recent disappearance from Facebook. That’s right…Lilly is a Facebook defector. I went into my conversation with Lilly especially curious about three topics: friends, schoolwork, and email.

Lilly told me she abandoned Facebook this September, but that she’s wanted to do it for a long time. She’d resisted because she’d always thought that after she got to college, deactivating her Facebook would make it difficult to keep in touch her high school friends, a concern I definitely identified with.

I asked her about the strain on her friendships with these people. Lilly told me that she still communicates with many of them through text messaging and email (woohoo! What what!), but that it’s certainly true that she’s lost touch with some people by deactivating her Facebook. “It’s been very indicative of who my true friends are,” Lilly told me, “My birthday was on the 31st and it was definitely interesting to see who remembered without facebook there to remind them.” Lilly said she didn’t want to be part of such vapid measurements of relationships and that quitting facebook has helped her do this.

Lilly also talked about the pressure to cultivate a perfect persona through one’s Facebook profile or as she puts it, pressure to constantly be your own PR person. “The whole language of Facebook stalking really irks me. That’s so sad that that’s what our interactions have become. They’re so diluted. No one says on their profile…‘I’m really messy and I sorta suck sometimes.’”

Lilly said she still finds out about school events, clubs, and homework assignments, although she said she is sometimes the last to find out about parties. “Sometimes it means, you know, showing up at a party and not realizing it’s a costume party until you get there,” Lilly said, laughing. But, these are small issues Lilly is more than willing to deal with.

“It was just taking up so much time. I didn’t realize until I got rid of it how instinctual checking Facebook was for me.”

When I asked Lilly if she ever thought she’d return to Facebook, she told me that, although she had been planning on going back over winter break, she really doesn’t want to. “I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back to having it,” Lilly said, “And when I tell people I don’t have a Facebook, they sort of get this look on their faces…like they get it.”

After my conversation with Lilly I felt both more tempted to ditch Facebook and more frightened to do so. Facebook is such an integral part of all of our lives, yet many of us seem to be noticing its flaws more and more. I’m still not sure if I’m big enough to take the plunge…are you?

Originally posted on Rachel Simmon’s website. Check out Fiona’s own blog, Barbara’s Angels.

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  • Ariel @ at 5:37 pm, December 19th, 2011

    I ditched facebook a couple of months ago.
    It’s pretty great not having one. I use up more texts and minutes talking to people (though now that i have unlimited I don’t have to care about that). I like the fact that if I want to talk to someone I don’t have to wait for them to check thier facebook (I had a lot of friends that rarely got on fb except maybe once or twice a week)to talk to them or set up a get together.
    Though now I do not hear about parties or group meetings among people, cause nobody seems to realize that I still exist now that I’m not posting crap online every day, I’d have to say that that works out pretty well for me anyways.
    If you want to get off facebook go ahead. But weigh whether or not and how it will effect every aspect of your life that it has changed thus far.
    If you have the minutes, the time, the money, and the willpower to keep your relationships going, offline, then by all means do it.
    (The main last reasons to stay on facebook for me was 1. if people were relying on me to help them in fb games. and 2. the fact that if my computer crashes, I don’t lose the pictures that are online.
    Those problems were easily fixed by 1 realizing that my friends had about 57+ other friends that could help them out. And backing up my computer every once in a while.)
    By all means, if your don’t like it, get off of it. It’s testing for about a month or so and then after that it’s freeing. Like beating an addiction.

  • Halle @ at 10:00 pm, December 19th, 2011

    @Ariel and Fiona- I took the plunge a few months ago also. My official excuse is that I am applying to colleges and I don’t think that any information on my facebook is there business. I don’t have anything remotely scandalous- I rarely post anything, but I just see college as a professional relationship and facebook certainly is not professional.
    However, like I said this was my “official” reasoning. It is very true, but also I was just tired of the grasp facebook held on me. EVERY time I went online I would quick check my facebook every few minutes or so. I didn’t even post anything- I’d just spend 20 minutes here, half an hour there just ‘stalking’ others.
    Everyone on facebook constructs their own persona- they get to choose how they are perceived, and most choose to show that they have fun fun fun all the time. Seeing other people seemingly have such a great time was kind of depressing. However, I realized that they are doing the same things I am, but facebook provides the competition for them to try and convince people otherwise.
    I missed facebook for a while, using it was almost a knee- jerk reaction, but quite honestly I didn’t realize the stress it caused till it was gone. I have more time to use the internet the way I want. I use tumblr, which is great because I have no personal attachments to anyone I follow. Contacting my friends online was pointless- I would see them at school the next day and they all have my number.
    Will I reactivate? I’ve decided that after I choose a college I will, to connect with other freshmen and prospective roomates and eventually to stay in touch with high school friends. But for now I don’t miss it at all.

  • Halle @ at 10:01 pm, December 19th, 2011

    Oh and I used to think people who deactivated their facebook were so annoying! But I became one of them!

  • Kat @ at 11:24 am, December 20th, 2011

    I think most of the things people complain about in regards to facebook is due to their own irresponsibility and ignorance when using it. If you feel pressure to create some sort of PR-polished image of yourself on facebook, then I think there are much deeper seated problems than being annoyed with a website. We always tell people, particularly young girls, to be happy with themselves and present themselves genuinely in their lives. Their online lives should be no differenct. Facebook, like all social media, is what we make of it. You do not HAVE to post a million pictures that show how happy and fun you are all the time if you are not. You don’t HAVE to post a thousand status updates every day if nothing particularly interesting is in your head. You don’t HAVE to play farmville until your eyes cross. If all your friends and family live close by, and you can get all your school, work, or activities information by phone, email, or in person, then you might not need facebook at all, then yeah, I can see deactivating. But if facebook is a useful tool for you to keep in touch with friends and family, and get the info you need for your responsibilities, then don’t give in to the pressure to portray a specific image of yourself on your page. Blaming facebook for the peer pressure you feel while on it is like blaming the brick-and-mortar school building for the pressures you feel while in class. Use the site honestly, and only put up what you want to put up. The privacy settings are there for a reason, but even aside from that, I think a good rule of thumb should be- Don’t share anything on facebook you are not comfortable with everyone in the world knowing about you. This goes for all social media sites, though this post was particularly about facebook. Just like every other aspect of your identity, YOU are in charge of cultivating your online persona, and if you see it as an extension of your overall, authentic self, then you can ignore the pressures to be something you are not.

  • leah @ at 11:54 am, December 20th, 2011

    I hate it when people who aren’t really a part of my life use facebook to contact me. They friend me but never can pick up a phone to actually call me. This hypocrisy is part of the reason I no longer have a facebook, and it’s really more of a problem with people and my needs from people who are “friends” than the site itself. I also hate the hypocrisy of people who “friend” people they don’t even really like. I miss the access to pictures, the convenience of following the OWS groups, and some of my friends did have clever/interesting things to say, but in the end I feel better without it. The nature of my job and life is that I travel a lot and have friends from all over the place who become distant, but the illusion of contact for me is actually makes the distance more painful than the reality of distance, and this is really a personal preference rather than an objective problem with facebook. Same thing for the fact that for me, it was also a way of avoiding accomplishing anything else in my bored spare time. I’d read the links to news or blogs obsessively. I still do that even without facebook, but facebook enabled it even more easily. So overall, my problems with facebook stem from my personal needs. I’m sure it’s fine for other people.

  • Rebecca G @ at 3:06 pm, December 20th, 2011

    I seem to havemanaged to resist Facebook completely, no easy task as a seventeen year old student! It seems a really unorganic way of conducting a social life- I quite like the idea that I can meet someone at a party and then walk away without having to then see all their pictures for the rest of their life. Im still an emailer and texter and miraculously manage to maintain friendships. Thanks for the great post xx

  • Madi @ at 4:34 am, December 26th, 2011

    I agree with this post on so many levels, me and facebook have a purely hate hate relationship. But still for some unknown reason I can’t seem to deactivate permanently. I guess it may have something to do with my tenuous hold on something resembling a social life, but it’s also a way that i trick myself into thinking that I am socially interacting with people. Upon reading your post I went to my profile to look at the short synopsis of myself and almost laughed, it said almost nothing truthful about me and so I decided to at least change that. Because I am messy and I do suck sometimes. So thankyou :)

  • Hannah @ at 4:38 pm, December 27th, 2011

    I also got rid of my Facebook a few weeks ago, though I have been off it since October but sometimes would log on just to check it for a bit. The addiction is still there, for sure, but I feel less attached to it now. I’m glad I’m not alone in this process!

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