I would have considered myself a fairly average social networking user. I hardly use it whatsoever. Well, occasionally. Well, every now and then. Well, only in my free time. Well, only to keep up to date with my friends and my acquaintances and my friends’ friends and my acquaintances’ friends and perhaps that sister of the guy who walked the dog of my old friend’s postman.
Well ok, I admit it; I am a fully-fledged Facebook addict. It feeds my curiosity, gives me a window into people’s lives that I can peer through with no risk of getting caught. Facebook is the guilt free, un-risky, virtual version of eavesdropping on someone’s conversation on the train or sneaking a glance through someone’s window as you walk by. It fills my free time and my not so free time and even my ‘I should desperately be writing this essay that’s due in tomorrow’ time. Which is why I decided that perhaps my Facebook using is getting out of hand, maybe it is time to reign in this addiction, and who knows, I might even get some work done! So on Saturday night I log off.
I go on the laptop to check for any work that I need to do, absentmindedly I open the internet, before I know it my fingers are jabbing at the ‘f’ key, then the ‘a’ and then ‘enter’ from muscle memory. I stare at the screen bewildered wondering what Facebook is doing staring back at me.
My lectures finish at 11am, I sit at home munching my way through a jumbo pack of chocolate bourbons daunted by the hours of self-motivated work before me. Normally in a situation like this Facebook would come to my aid, offering hours of endless procrastination. A status from that girl who I went to school with, oh, she has a new boyfriend, I wonder what he looks like! We have mutual friends! I wonder who we both know; oh, her, wow, I wonder what she’s up to now, she has a new boyfriend…’. Perhaps I should actually just crack on with this work I thought to myself? Two hours and that jumbo pack of bourbon biscuits later and my room is spotless, a chunk of my washing up is done, and my clothes are all washed and folded.
My friend asks me if I am invited to a birthday party of a mutual friend. I haven’t heard anything about it so I assume I am not, I feel a bit hurt but before I go cry into another pack of bourbons with self pity he explains to me that the invites were only sent out today on Facebook. Ah. I contemplate asking my friend to just check the invite list to see if I am on it. Does that count as using Facebook? When I started this challenge I didn’t realise the deep, philosophical questions that I would have to battle with. I decide that yes, it is unfair to use him as a utensil in my cheating. I decide I can either tag along under the presumption I am invited but risk the humiliation and apparent rudeness if I am in fact not , to subtly try to gauge from the person if I am invited but possibly come across as rude and spark an awkward conversation or I could just plainly miss out. I settle on the latter.
It is like everyone everywhere is talking about Facebook. ‘Did you see the video from Friday night? my flatmate asks. ‘I got so sick of trawling through snow statuses. It was like everywhere I looked on Facebook someone was jabbering on about snow’ my friend moans. ‘There’ll be more information on this week’s social on the Facebook page’ the sports’ societies tell me. Everything; all our relationships, interactions, organisations, events, discussions seem to be enveloped by Facebook.
I’ve realised how much I rely on Facebook for information. I use it check on the pages for various different societies to see what is going on, to get people’s email addresses off of their profiles, to share and look through photos taken by my friends when we’ve been out and to ask for help from other people on my course when I’m stuck on a module. I feel really isolated and out of the know. The time between my lectures when I should be working seems to stretch from here to the moon. I have noticed a sharp increase in my inclination to check my emails, a lesser increase in my productivity and a much greater dependency on bourbons. I fear my bourbon addiction is growing. A pack a day is not an acceptable rate of consumption.
My boyfriend comes from home to visit me for the weekend with a pack of emergency bourbons as I had requested.
I am really hoping people haven’t contacted me on Facebook and don’t think I’m ignoring them. After my boyfriend leaves in the evening and I’m back in my room on my own I open up a minimised internet page. Facebook is staring back at me. I realise my boyfriend’s left himself logged on. Like a child at Christmas about to open their presents I gleefully click to write a status. What am I thinking Facebook? Well, let’s see… I scan my brain for the most believable yet humiliating status for him. Oh the possibilities of havoc! I’m sure he’d appreciate some amusing statuses, a change in name, some new photos… is this allowed? Surely it doesn’t count if it’s someone else’s Facebook and I just stumble across it. Does it? I decide it does. A little part of me dies as I log off his account.
‘Whitney Houston’s Dead!’, ‘What! Really?’ I question. Why did it take me so long to find out about it? Then I realise that I very rarely read any news and I especially don’t watch it. So without Facebook I go uninformed. It dawns on me how all the big news stories I have found out through people’s statuses which by my own admission is a little bit tragic. My friend asks if he can bring a new girl that he’s dating to the pub that evening. I practically shriek with excitement. ‘Tell me all about her!’. ‘She’s really nice’ is all I get back. He texts me her full name, it is excruciatingly that I can’t stalk her on Facebook. Making judgements and speculations about people’s personality based on their Facebook profile is what I do best. I guess I’ll just have to make my first impression of her the old way, by actually meeting her. Boring.
It definitely should not have been as hard as it was to go without Facebook. Although without it I have to admit I noted an increase in my productivity and I generally felt better about myself. I didn’t miss that sense of inadequacy after whiling away my time reading statuses and looking at photos of other people’s seemingly exciting lives. I definitely think that this Facebook rehab has made me see it in a completely different light and although I’ll still be using it to contact people I am definitely going to try and stop using it as purely a method of procrastination.