Deactivating Facebook

If you have a Facebook account and have logged in over the past few days, I don’t have to tell you that once again many changes have occurred.

There have been countless articles written about these changes online over the past few days (such as this one, this one, and this one). I will not repeat information that you most likely already know. However, I will recommend that you click on the first ‘this one’ link because it discusses the big changes that have started to and will occur for Facebook users soon.

If you think that the ‘ticker’ is the biggest change, you are in for a huge surprise because your whole Facebook experience is about to change dramatically. The ‘ticker’ was only the beginning. 

However, I will not experience these changes because I have decided to deactivate my Facebook account.

                                               Dramatic pause. Shocked face.

                 This is for exaggerated dramatic effect only. Shocked monkey.

Alright, let me amend the above statement. I have decided to deactivate my Facebook account for a week starting today.

Only a week! (Sighs of relief).

I do not use the above images and dramatic pauses because of some sort of imagined and arrogant sense of self-worth which led me to assume that my Facebook friends would be “shocked” to see my profile disappear. On the contrary, I suspect few will actually notice if I stick with the plan and only do it for a week.

However, I use the dramatic effect because of the realization of what this Facebook-less week will mean for me and of what it would mean for many of my Facebook friends if they participated in a project like this one as well.

Love at first sight

I joined Facebook in 2006 shortly after graduating from high school because I wanted to keep up with what all of my friends. A few months later I started college and all of my new friends were on Facebook as well; the rest is history. Since that fateful decision there has not been a long stretch of time (longer than a week) during which I have not checked my Facebook account.

There has certainly not been a week during which my profile did not exist. Even if I did not log in, my online identity was always visible. So for five continuous years, my identity has existed on this random website that was started by an even more random former Harvard student.

Often times we do not realize what role something plays in our life until we are forced to no longer have that in our life (this works with people too). Thus, I have decided to proactively eliminate Facebook from my life in order to analyze the role it plays in my daily routine.

I will “not exist” in the Facebook world for a week and will document my experiences of not being on Facebook as part of this blog. I will delete anything related to Facebook and will deactivate my account (Facebook allows you to do so and to come back).

The plan

I will write at least a few sentences everyday for the next week about how not having a Facebook account is affecting my daily routine and will summarize my experiences in the post next Tuesday (October 4th). I have already taken some suggestions (ironically enough) from Facebook about things that I should take note of and I welcome any further suggestions in the comment section for this post.

What’s the big deal?

I realize that to many people out there this all seems silly because they either do not have a Facebook account or only log in every few weeks to check it. I acknowledge that you cannot relate to this and respect that, but I also know that many others out there can relate completely because Facebook has become as ritualistic a part of their lives as brushing their teeth and eating.

Many who do have a Facebook may also think that I am over-dramatizing this one week experiment for the sake of the blog.

I disagree.

I directly asked in two languages (via Facebook status) for people to join me in this experiment, and ZERO people accepted my offer. Also, in five years I have only known a handful of people who have successfully deactivated their Facebook for any long stretch of time.

Thus, I believe that my over dramatization is well justified.

It’s not you, it’s me

I do not hate Facebook. I actually appreciate it very much and love that it allows me to connect with friends from all over the world. If I hated the website, I would not be studying social media!

What I do hate are my habits when associated with Facebook. I believe that I have become too dependent on it and that I have illogically created a ‘need’ to check Facebook everyday and to update my friends with pointless statuses about things such as coffee.

I hope to understand this ‘need’ and to manage it better after this one week experiment. I expect that I will survive just fine without Facebook and that I will still have a social life. I want to use Facebook as a tool and I want to control Facebook. I do not want Facebook to use me as a tool and to control me. 

I also believe that this experience will allow me to better understand Facebook and social media dependency, and this will in turn help me with my academic research on the interconnectedness of media convergence (such as social media) and traditional mass news media.

And now…”The Deed”

First, the iPhone application…

Hasta la vista, baby.

Next, the ‘favorites’ link…

And finally, Facebook itself…

Step One: The button

Step Two: Are you sure? 

It asked me if I was sure, and then presented me with several photos, including one of MY MOTHER, and warned me that she would “miss me”.

                                                             THIS IS REAL LIFE. 

Step Three: Why are you leaving us?

Notice I told them exactly why, and referred them to the blog. :)

Steps 4 and 5: Password confirmations galore


And then…

After all these steps, “The Deed” has been accomplished.

FYI, I’m still alive.