Their View: Ending my relationship with Facebook

Christopher Hook

This summer, I canceled my Facebook. Yep, I clicked “deactivate account,” and I was free! Free from status updates letting me know my ex-girlfriend from ninth grade was eating a tuna sandwich. Free from invites to groups called “Girls that wear Ugg boots are responsible for the spread of STDs.” Free from annoying quizzes telling me which Final Fantasy VII character I would be.

Facebook had become a distraction. I could literally spend all day looking at friends’ pictures, taking quizzes, sending gifts, playing Scrabbulous, commenting on posted links, commenting on friends’ comments, commenting on comments made about other comments, etc. Instead of taking occasional breaks from writing school papers to check my page, it was the other way around. My self-control was nonexistent. I browsed for an hour, or more. Like a heroin addict, I knew what I was doing was destroying me but was unable to stop.

I also slowly began to feel a social isolation from my fellow living, breathing humans. My mother, who has a Facebook, said to me one day, “Wow, you have 600 friends!” Sheepishly, I had to tell her, “Yeah, but Mom, that includes the kid who sat next to me in freshman history and my 12-year-old brother’s friend who has a crush on me.” So I had plenty of acquaintances. But what of friends?

And so, Mark Zuckerberg be damned, I quit, like Odysseus strapping himself to the ship’s mast to avoid the temptations of the Sirens. I went into detox, removing Facebook from my bookmarks bar, sent texts to my friends with my revelation and even blocked the page on my Internet browser.

Immediately after, I felt uplifted, like a man who’d found God. I found peace, began to live less cluttered and, most importantly, began to put more stake in my relationships. My thought was, when the veil is removed, when we no longer have a custom-made page to present to others how we want to come off, the focus returns to genuine experience, genuine relationships. I had definitely lost this in the age of Facebook and Twitter, Blackberry and iPhone.

As time went on, I began to have doubts, not about what constitutes a well-lived life, but about how realistic it is as a college student in today’s world not to have a Facebook. Plus, Facebook hooks me up with people I would have no idea how to find otherwise, including my old best friend who moved to Texas in fourth grade. I can invite, all at once, old friends from a past study abroad experience for a reunion party at my house. I can easily gather volunteers for an October canned food drive.

I re-entered my relationship with Facebook, but only after making a serious pact with myself. I would only use the social networking platform for, well, social networking. I would do my best to avoid time wasters like quizzes and reading incessant status updates. And I would take time for my real friends, the ones with blood and hearts and lungs and not profile pictures and Mafia Wars rankings.

It is still possible to live in 2009, enjoy the beauty of living and have a Facebook page. We just have to work a little harder on it.

Now, back to my Scrabbulous game… doh!

Christopher Hook is a junior international relations and French major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.