Why is it so hard to say bye to Facebook, permanently?
Let me set the scene. At 16, a friend of mine, who lived abroad in Germany at the time, decided to create a Facebook account for me – so that we could stay in touch once my holiday ended and I had to go home to England. My first few photos were of us dotted around Leipzig, nothing too exciting. I added those friends of hers that I’d met whilst there, but Facebook offered me little more.
Once I had reached college, my old friends slowly joined Facebook, and new classmates were
collected added. Soon Facebook became the bloodline of my social life. Nothing really happened in real life unless it could be verified on Facebook: through statuses – “Pacha was pretty amazing tbh*”; group or food photos – always group photos to validate that you have billions of friends, and food because your meal needs to be seen by others (I still do this); and lastly, while still through photos – sweaty, drunken clubbing photos – hundreds of the same blurry snaps of my friends and I pulling various poses.
By University these habits were exacerbated, but by this time I begun to hate Facebook. But I hated it, whilst still desperately loving it at the same time. Soon, this developed my compulsive habit to de-activate and consequently re-activate my account after a month’s hibernation. Jealousy, boredom, ex’s, attention-seeking were all valid reasons I had developed provoking me to de-activate my account time again.
And this became how I’d use Facebook. Like clinging on to a toxic relationship. Actually, it’s more like taking drugs* because everyone else is, even though you hate it, you just love what (you think) it means for your social life. Dare I let myself be caught out upon meeting someone new, all Facebook-less – “You don’t have Facebook?”, they’d say, “Oh”, they’d finish – with that killing the conversation. In their mind, you can’t really work out why someone wouldn’t have Facebook.
Today, I have Facebook. I can’t say I really use it, but I still miss it when it’s gone. I don’t feel the need to read about other people’s babies, or to compare my life to other’s Facebook version of it in which every status or photo is to remind me of why their life is better than mine. I hope that I keep updated with those I care for because I make the effort to do so. I’m not saying Facebook can’t be used for this, it most certainly is the biggest reason I still have it to keep in touch with my family abroad – it’s just easier. But I just hope that I’ve grown past having to live through Facebook.
One of the biggest things that bugs me about Facebook – is how much will it affect my employability. Scare stories regarding mainly teachers who have been fired over what can be found on their Facebook have been around a while now. It does make you think twice about whether you should approve that tag – where you have a smile on your face and a beer in your hand. It may be common place, but it takes just one bad impression to stop you getting the job you may have spent hours applying for. Statistics suggest that more and more employers are checking your Facebook – an article on ZDNet suggest 56% are checking your social media – to see whether you’re a suitable candidate.
Secondly, it comes down to privacy control. I know by having a blog I am already exposing my life that little bit more online. I try very carefully not detail anything too personal, that could leave me exposed to internet crime (identity theft for example), but with Facebook, it becomes harder and harder to control that information. Even changing my Facebook name and employing maximum privacy settings hasn’t made me any harder to find on Google. I even go as far as turning location abilities off on my iPhone where possible. Now I have nothing to hide, I am fearfully law abiding, but the internet (and Facebook) has made scared that I feel like maybe I should have something to hide.
So I won’t say goodbye to Facebook forever just yet. It is still useful to me. I will, however, still have those internal conflicts on whether I should de-activate my account again, and I will vigilantly monitor what I put online.
What keeps you from saying goodbye to Facebook?
*Actual status from 2007 - cringe.
*I am definitely not advocating drugs and it is used purely for metaphorical purposes.