Monday, January 28, 2013

My Facebook Free Weekend

I have been home sick this weekend. Not just "I'm missing class" staying home sick, but "I took a bus 6 hours so I could be home" kind of sick. I will spare you the details about being sick and just say I'm getting better. I still feel quite under the weather, but I'll live. When I got home, there was a bit of a misunderstanding about something I had posted on Facebook. In the heat of the moment I decided to deactivate my account. The misunderstanding has been understood and everything was cleared up, but I decided to keep my account deactivated for the duration of my visit home. Why you may ask? I'll tell you... For "The Examined Life" I had to read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, a book about what the internet is doing to our brains. This is not my reaction to the book (I already had to write that for class) but I did not like it. So if you want more information about it, Google it. A lot of our class discussions thus far have been about the internet and how our society has become so addicted to it. Carr's book and our discussions got me thinking about my own internet addiction. I use the internet for a plethora of things but Facebook has to be the page I visit the most. My homepage is Facebook. I check my Facebook every single time I open my computer. It's a strange habit that I engage in mindlessly. I have been trying to cut back on my Facebook usage because it can't be health to be so addicted to a social networking site. When I deactivated my Facebook account out of anger, I was not even thinking about this. But it gave me the perfect opportunity to see what it would be like to go back to a time when I was not constantly checking my Facebook. Over the four days I was home, I did not go on Facebook and this is my experience with my “Facebook Free Weekend". The first thing I noticed was that I did not know where to go when I opened my internet browser. I had to change my homepage so I wouldn't be tempted to reactivate my account. I did once just after I had deactivated it, just to make sure I hadn't permanently deleted my account. The fact I did this showed me exactly how addicted I am to Facebook. I wanted to get away from Facebook for awhile, but I don't think I would be able to deal with deleting my account for good because there is so much information and so many connections I would lose if I no longer had a Facebook. I would feel completely out of the touch with my friends and family without this website. And I know this is exactly how I would feel if I lost my account because I felt this way over the weekend. At first it seemed as if I wouldn't even miss Facebook. I occupied my time online by using such websites as iwastesomuchtime and stumbleupon. But I feel that I spent significantly less time online than I usually do. This was absolutely wonderful because I spent a lot more time with my family. Spending less time on the internet and more time with my family is exactly what I needed to this weekend in order to recuperate after being sick. I found that I went to bed earlier this weekend as well (mainly because I was not at school socializing and I wasn’t feeling good in the first place) but also because I did not spend that extra hour or two before bed mindlessly looking at my news feed. When I got around to doing my homework, I found that I did it faster and more efficiently without Facebook. Why this happened is a no brainer: I wasn't procrastinating by turing to Facebook as I usually do. As for the negative aspects of not using Facebook, I found very few. I did find myself wondering what was going on at school without me. But this forced me to communicate with my friends in other ways to see what was happening. I do text a considerable amount but I don’t really like to. This weekend my most used means of communication was making a phone call and I found that certainly refreshing. Second to making phone calls was sending emails, and lastly there was texting. I find that people my age would rather text someone than talk to them on the phone. This makes sense because texting is quick and easy. But I like to call people rather than text because text conversations can get confusing. I find that I end up texting people rather than calling them because texting is societies preferred method of communication. I thought the amount I texted would go up a lot more (without the use of Facebook) than it did. How little I texted this weekend shows that I am not as reliant on texting compared to the average teenager. I’m not sure if I am proud of that or alarmed because I am going against the status quo. The biggest negative aspect of not using Facebook was more of an annoyance than a negative thing. I found myself having to explain over and over again why I was not on Facebook. My family and close friends were really the only ones who questioned me about it, which showed me who looks at my Facebook the most. I appreciated the concern friends showed about the fact they could not find me on Facebook, but I did not enjoy explaining myself. I knew that people would ask and I accepted the fact that I had to give them an answer. I am just stating that repeating my explanation was the number one most annoying thing about not going on Facebook. So, what did I get out of this experience? Well, I learned that I am more productive when I don’t have Facebook as a distraction. I now know who really cares about what I post on my Facebook. I now know that I can definitely live without Facebook. Do I want to? Nope. I enjoy the fact that I can easily get in touch with people. I like that Facebook helps me keep stay connected with anyone as little or as much as I want to. And there are a lot of memories (in forms of pictures, posts, and videos) on Facebook that I would be sad to lose if I deleted my account. Has this experience changed anything for me? Absolutely. I think that I will use Facebook a significantly less because I know that I can with little to no negative side effects. And I know that using Facebook less can lead to a lot of positive side effects, so that will be something I keep in mind every time I log on. Finally, I hope that my experience with a “Facebook Free Weekend” inspires others (if anybody reads this...) to revaluate your Facebook use and maybe even try a weekend logged off. I promise you that if you spend a weekend free of Facebook, you’ll have a great weekend. I know I did! MX

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