Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff”: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/there-is-life-after-facebook-1.1179484
You asked what’s on my mind. Well, there is a lot that we need to talk about. It’s been about three years since I logged into my account. When I quit Facebook, family and friends were not pleased. They thought I was being antisocial, and such a spoilsport! However, I bowed out of the online social party as gracefully as I could.
At first it seemed like there was nothing left in life. I missed checking the ‘likes’, friend requests and friends’ updates every few minutes. Life felt … empty. But when the initial feeling of being cut off from the world was conquered I realised I had so much more time, and I was so productive!
I didn’t have to log on to Facebook every few minutes, and I didn’t need to know what other people were up to. I was suddenly getting some actual work done! It was possible.
A life without an over-reliance on Facebook was possible. Life could go on without needing to know how much weight so-and-so in New York had gained post-baby, or without knowing how magnificent a party had been, or without knowing what someone else’s children were up to.
Without getting a number of ‘likes’ on my oh-so-witty and well-thought-out status updates, and without getting a bunch of compliments on my latest pictures, as much as I would have liked to deny it, life really could go on.
And quite smoothly too.
Life after you, Facebook, had an odd satisfaction to it, a secure feeling that the world did not know what I was up to. There were people who totally ridiculed my idea of not using you, Facebook but I was more in touch with my real friends than ever before.
Those who wanted to find me landed on my blog, and we became even better friends than before. I became accessible and available to a selected few, who knew how to reach me, and who knew that my email messages to them were not broadcast conversations over status updates and pictures, and were real chats.
Slowly, Facebook, I forgot about you. I had a life that did not need to be lived online. I had family and friends in person, and admittedly on whatsapp and email. And I wouldn’t even have written to you today if a colleague hadn’t asked for my Facebook ID. When I tell people I’m not on Facebook, they generally have two reactions.
One group thinks I am a totally antisocial person. The second group thinks I am an eccentric woman who probably has an interesting story to tell about why I quit you.
Well, Facebook, the truth couldn’t be farther away. I’m just a normal human being who decided to quit you because I was growing addicted to you.
When I told my colleague I wasn’t on you, she insisted that it was good to have a Facebook account, and that one can stay in touch with one’s friends. Yes, Facebook, I miss that.
I also miss being able to share my articles to a great number of people in a single click, and I miss sharing thought-provoking quotes and the like. To my colleague I mumbled something along the lines of “Yeah, Facebook’s really cool that way,” and wondered if I would ever join you again.
Join you again? Is that even possible, or likely? Well, anything is possible. Maybe I could join you and keep myself hidden with the privacy settings you thankfully worked out and add a total of say, 15-20 people?
Wouldn’t I look like a completely unpopular moron if I didn’t have at least 200 ‘friends’? And then if I didn’t share any of my own pictures, I would definitely look like a snoopy observer of others’ pictures. And Facebook, is it not all about letting others know how wonderful and awesome I am, and what an exciting life I live?
To be honest though, I’m nothing spectacular. I’m just an average person with an average life, but all my friends on Facebook look like they have the most amazing lives in the world.
Look at me. I sound like I am in a ‘Facebook frenzy’ already. Perhaps I’ll wait a little more before I can join you again. In the meantime, I’ll work on living a real life away from the carefully crafted perfection of the internet.