I’ve been bitching for a couple years about how Facebook was more burden than tool. Today, I broke off our five-year relationship.
In 2006, I got my college acceptance letter and my friend Aislinn, a year older than me, was geeked. “Now you can sign up for Facebook!” she told me, explaining that it was a college-only club for cool kids. I didn’t really know what she was saying, but figured she probably knew what she was talking about. She set up my profile, using my senior picture as a profile photo.
In 2007, I started at Michigan State University (MSU). Facebook was great, because I could keep in touch will all of my Stoney Creek High School friends while making new connections at MSU. This was also probably my greatest period of Facebook use. I was constantly online during classes, checking if the cute dude that sat by me were single or looking at other people’s colleges through pictures. I remember joking with friends that I was “addicted” and browsing for probably more than an hour every day. I changed my profile picture to reflect my newfound (awesome) home.
In 2008 is when I started experiencing the first downside of Facebook, because people would post pictures of me at parties. “I’m going to need a job eventually,” I thought, deleting photos that looked scandalous. The sad thing was that in a lot of photos, I wasn’t actually drinking. I’d have a red cup at an residence hall event or something and think it looked suspicious enough to take down. But also in some I was drinking. So there.
In the summer of 2008, my favorite Facebook use occurred. I don’t remember why or how, but my best friends from college and I started a “thread” message titled Chimp Mauling. Facebook has mysteriously deleted this chat, but it’s continued every summer since (pictured). When I think of this group of friends, I think of Chimp Mauling and the hilarious messages that brightened my days when we were apart all summer.
In 2009, tides were a’changin’. I realized I liked the pictures more than anything else. I wasn’t really using Facebook to keep in touch with people — I was using it to avoid keeping in touch with people. I’d look at their pictures and think “Oh cool, they’re doing great.” That eliminates the important step of actually talking to old friends, and unfortunately I think I lost quite a few while thinking I was keeping in touch with a few clicks. I was also put off by the influx of non-college people joining what had once been at least a little exclusive. While it was nice to keep in touch with my friends, there were family members gossiping about what my friends and I were up to and I was faced with some awkward “I really didn’t want to know that about my middle-school cousin” dilemmas. I changed my profile picture to a non-current (although hilarious) one and backed off checking it every day. In other words, I made it a little less personal.
In 2010, it got even less personal. I un-joined as many groups as I could, mainly keeping ones that had only people I still kept in touch with in them. My house did have a page that was semi-useful for announcing parties and collecting utility money, but that’s pretty much where the usefulness ended. Also, I’d been a member of Twitter since 2008, and I found myself liking that a lot more. There were less whiners on there, because it was less tolerated. I remember somebody posting something stupid about how sad they were and my boyfriend complaining. “That’s not what Twitter’s for, take it to Facebook,” he said. I peeled back my profile even more and went on the site in general about once a week.
And now, on Sept. 22, 2011, I’m calling it quits. I’ve got 791 friends. I’ve got messages I love going back to. But I’ve got photos I downloaded, and I’m going forward armed with people I call and text every day. With real live phone numbers. And I’ve got real live friends. I’m tired of feeling obligated to go on Facebook (to un-add myself to groups people have put me in, un-tag myself from ugly photos, un-post embarrassing things on my wall, and un-invite myself to events from people I haven’t seen in three years.) I’m going to spend some time getting out and doing things. I knew it was over when I didn’t dislike the new updates. In fact, I didn’t have any feelings about #f8. I didn’t give a shit, which I took as a sign that our time together was at a natural end. I loved you once, Facebook. But good night (and good luck).