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Life without Facebook: Scarier than you can imagine

Last night I indulged in a little fantasy, imagining what my life would be like without Facebook. I had a bad day and was cross with the world and I thought: I’m going to delete my entire Facebook account. I suppose the fact that deleting Facebook in my head means getting rid of the world is quite telling.

I realised that I don’t know where on Facebook I would delete my account, so this morning I started to investigate. Under FB Security settings one can deactivate ones account, and this is what most people mean when they say they’ve gone off Facebook.

They’ve temporarily deactivated. The account is still waiting there, ready to go whenever they are again. To figure out how to delete an account completely I had to use the Help function (I suppose Facebook would never put ‘delete account’ right next to updating ones status) and was told that for this to happen, one has to send a special request to Facebook.

Then it warns you that deleting would mean “you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added.” I wondered if that would really mean that everything is deleted, or if a back-up would be floating around on a massive server somewhere in California, just for in case?

It took me a lot of time and effort over the years to create my Facebook: uploading photos, tagging them, liking stuff, finding and adding friends. There are quite a few hours invested there. To me, deleting it would be like burning a precious artwork in a fit of anger. This is also strange as technically my Facebook account doesn’t even belong to me, but to the shareholders.

There are photos on my Facebook that I go and look at whenever I’m feeling sentimental, remembering that good days do exist. I suppose those photos could be uploaded again, I could go find them on various folders on various hard drives. But they won’t have the comments made by friends.

And they wouldn’t be perfectly dated and sized, or placed on a black background with a convenient scroll-through. I realized that there are quite a couple of friends on my Facebook that I don’t have any other contact information for.

Without Facebook there would be no other way of getting hold of them. I also wouldn’t know what was happening in their lives. Of course, these days Facebook has an archiving function, where one could download all ones content, including photos, updates, comments and friends contacts.

Thank you, Facebook! But some of my favourite photos belong to my friends, even though they look like they are mine because I’m tagged in them. Only two of my good friends aren’t on Facebook, and I wish they would get onto it. Yes, we phone, text, e-mail and visit, but somehow weekend photos inserted at the bottom of an e-mail don’t look nearly as cool! It is just so much easier and faster to make a quick comment on a photo to show that I’m around and that I care.

I also realized that without Facebook, I would have do figure out what to do with another half hour of my day. Going onto Facebook and randomly meandering around on there has become such an integral part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth.

I did some research online and found a website where one could pledge to quit Facebook. 40000 people apparently have pledged to quit Facebook, but they don’t state how many have actually gone through with it. I gather the main reason they want people to quit Facebook is because it disrespects ones data, but I didn’t quite understand what exactly they mean by this.

Sam Laird wrote on Mashable that life without Facebook to him meant that he was always feeling as if he were missing out on cool and interesting happenings, but on the upside, that he spends more time enjoying the moment, as he isn’t imagining the representation of the moment on Facebook. CNN reported that someone deleted their Facebook because of a break-up, and that someone else had experienced it as a social burden.

This specific young US woman realised how self-conscious she felt on Facebook, and how she manipulated her statuses for other peoples good opinion. To her, deleting her account was a relief. And then there is the guy who went off Facebook for five weeks and all his friends thought he was dead!

I go onto Facebook when I want to take a break. I like seeing friendly faces and remarks in the middle of work day. My colleagues go for smoke breaks, and I’m not quitting before they do.

Author | Carmen Schaefer

Carmen Schaefer
Carmen Schaefer believes she can tell everything there is to know about a person just by spending some time studying their Facebook pages. This interest in the social networking titan was spurred by an MA completed through Wits University in Johannesburg. Her full-time job is lecturing Visual Communications at... More
  • qoda

    Its really not that difficult…

  • Jenny

    I deactivated my Facebook because of a breakup I know it’s dumb but as soon I’m over it I will go back.

  • sean

    I have permanently walked away from facebook. I was on it for nearly 4 years. It’s like cutting off your arm in order to get away from a steel trap. Researchers have found that people who are “reborn” or “born again” in church settings experience memory loss on the level of cellular decay in the brain. Almost as if the brain has experienced real physical damage and now must function like a person who must relearn motor functions in order to live normally again. Facebook is an extension of your identity within the minds of your “friends” and they reflect back on you how you are perceived. This then becomes part of your own self-perceived identity. When you abandon that you are being born again in a sense. I had to do it. I have prided myself on living on my own terms without the approval of the mob. Facebook turned me into a co-dependant of sorts. I found myself emotionally involved with social media. Now I am a less stressed person and much happier because I don’t have an audience for my daily life. But you have to be willing to lose a psychic appendage that you be using for a crutch. But that’s me. Everyone’s different.

  • Mark Twin

    I can’t understand how anyone can “put all their eggs in one basket” – only a fool would only have one online service as a way to contact people. Never mind putting all your photos there without a personal backup. What if your account is hacked? Did you read the Matt Honan experience? So one can only conclude your are at best foolish and at at worst a complete fool – like many Facebook users who think there is such thing as a free lunch!

  • Dektron

    Thanks for this :)
    It is very similar to my experience. People laugh when I say I was addicted to Facebook but it serious like crack to me. I couldn’t just have a little bit and control my usage and take the good things (and there are plenty) from it.
    It became a crutch, like you say. I became totally invested in, and overly concerned with the opinions of others, what they were doing and what tey thought I was doing! It sounds crazy but it kind of is. It’s kind of a mental illness some people. I don’t think it got that bad for me but i do know that I’m happier without it! :)

  • thanks u might hve motivated me for a great future

  • Pingback: Do you have a back up plan in case Facebook goes away? | My Social Media Blog()

  • Mark

    “It is just so much easier and faster to make a quick comment on a photo to show that I’m around and that I care.” This shows that like many Facebook users you’re lazy and you only care abut having an easy life – not quality of life where you actually care enough about the people in your life to communicate directly with them and not by a one for all update – another sad face booker! My friends now assume that there’s something wrong with you if you’re still use Facebook!

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