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Articles > November, 27, 2008

Life without Facebook

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It was 2006. I’d heard of Facebook but I had never realised that I was the only person in the world who didn’t have an account. I had just moved to France as part of my course and a whole new social network opened up to me, but I had to be on Facebook to be a part of it. So I caved in and set up my page.

Within days I was more popular than I had ever been in my life. As long as I could remember someone’s full name after I’d met them, I had a friend for life. Everyone I’d gone to school with added me, anyone I’d ever sat next to on the train – they were all my poking new best friends.

Admittedly, I started to get a little hooked. Facebook was the first thing that I looked at when I woke up, just to see if I’d got a message or been tagged. Dangerously it was also the last thing I would look at at night, even if I had come home at 5am drunk and tired, I’d log in and send a few messages that I would come to regret in the morning.

One night, I visited a friend in a neighbouring hall of residence. We were drinking wine in pre-clubbing style and looking at people’s pictures on Facebook. She told me about a friend of hers. This friend was within the social group that we had created, of English students in a foreign country. She came to our nights out regularly and had built up some solid friendships with a few of the others. But there was an event created on Facebook to which she wasn’t invited. Instead of coming along anyway through an invite she received by word of mouth, she cried. She cried because someone had overlooked her generic name and forgotten to add her to the invitees, she cried for the friends that she thought she had but had lost, she cried for her loss of a social status that she believed she had built up. I wondered, how could an internet site, a few words on a colourful page, transient as the internet usually is, how could that upset someone to such an extent? I started to notice how people’s behaviour had been affected by the site. Even a very good and logical friend of mine would pick her outfits for a night out, specifically with Facebook photos in mind.

Two years on I was back in England, I’d fallen in love and I hadn’t checked Facebook for over a week. I graduated, got a job, moved in with my boyfriend and decided that Facebook really wasn’t needed anymore so I closed my account, promising myself that I would keep in touch with my real friends in person.

And then things went a little wrong. I went to a family event and my cousin was being a bit off with me. It turned out she thought that I’d just deleted her as a friend on Facebook because I was fed up with her messages. She had been searching through my brother’s friend list to see if I was still on there. I also found out I’d annoyed another friend because in leaving the site I had taken away the only photos where she had been sober. I apologised and said that I would e-mail them to her so she had them to keep. New work friends felt dismissed when asking to add me and then being informed that I’d left the site because I thought it represented the decline of real social skills.

But I did what I had intended and called up a friend and met for lunch. It was a much nicer way to catch up then just by exchanging a couple of messages. We chatted solidly for 2 hours and I can’t wait to do it again.

I must admit that I like the feeling that many acquaintances will wonder what happened and if I dropped off the face of the earth. I like that when I go to a computer my first thought isn’t to check Facebook. Leaving Facebook gives you that sense of freedom that you get when you’ve gone out without your mobile. I still have friends the only difference is that they are all real; I can get a physical hug when I need one, not a virtual one.

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  1. jessica

    Life without Face book would this mean loss of communication =/ but then again we can do it the old fashion way a letter and a pen, and as technology is improving we don’t need face book to feed out needs that only my opinion.

  2. Sarah

    The truth behind this article is depressing. I know I’m quite addicted to Facebook and use it to look at people who I don’t like and see who they’ve been talking to… But it really is a waste of time :L It causes fights and it distracts me from doing work every time I go on the computer. I used to be addicted to msn, but now it’s Facebook. I’ve got AS levels coming up and even though I’m addicted, I really don’t like Facebook at all. If you’re thinking about deleting your account, seeing this article, you should probably just leave it alone 🙂 Great article btw.

  3. O'Rume Ena

    Go girl!!!!!!!

  4. Dalia

    I love facebook but found that is was way too distracting for me. So i got my friend to change my password, and now i can get some revision done for my exams without being hooked. What a relief!

  5. Jenny

    I feel I have to stick up for facebook now…everyone I know was addicted to facebook _at first_, but you know, you get over it, you don’t feel the need to check it everyday. I don’t live for facebook, or to stalk my friends and look through their photos, or to play about on the stupid applications. However, I would never leave it, not because it is a substitute for seeing my friends, but because it is a way of making sure I do. I keep in touch with friends from all over the place, including some true friends, friends for life, who I knew before moving to uni. Every holiday I can, thanks to facebook, organise get-togethers that I know mean something to everyone involved: rather than having to ring or text around everyone to find out when they are free, and ring round them again every time a change of plan is made, and inevitably forgetting someone, I can just send a message round everyone and they are kept up-to-date automatically…simple. Yes, people get addicted to facebook and take it far too seriously, but I think that is more symptomatic of them than the webiste…like anything else it is what you make it, and as a *networking* site, I find it invaluable in keeping in touch with people who have no fixed address, no guaranteed signal or credit on their phone, and strange hours at which they are busy – I am referring, of course, to my fellow students.

  6. sorrel

    WE HAVE THE SAME NAME!!!!

  7. Hugo Upton

    I honestly have no idea how anyone can be addicted to facebook. a) It’s bland b) It’s boring c) There’s no real sense of interaction or community d) MSN LIVE e) Bebo f) Every single facebook page is the same

  8. Matthew Morrissey

    Sorrel, I very much enjoyed your article – I periodically leave Facebook when it begins to annoy me…However, I was shocked at the duplicitous and fictitious nature of some aspects of your article; I believe we went to school together and yet you claim ‘Everyone I’d gone to school with added me ‘ : what lies and deceit, we were never friends on Facebook!!! Please correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, I’m glad to have randomly stumbled across your article and I hope you are well. p.s. See you in The Lighter on Christmas Eve? They might even have wi-fi…

  9. -

    I have also left facebook recently..but everyone is begging for me to get back on it 🙁 . . im in two minds about it. .hmmmm. .

  10. Ross

    I used to be over addicted to Facebook, but, like anything, if it’s used in the right way it can be a good thing.. One trend seems to be not communicating with people, but ‘stalking’ them over Facebook; looking at their photos for last night, or who they’ve been talking to. Which is obviously a decline of real social skills. 🙂

  11. aatef baig

    Brilliant article!! Facebook is a pure addiction for almost everybody who use it. Virtuality has taken over reality which is frighting more than sad.For most people now life without facebook is like ‘life without reality’. Once again, well done!!