Why I Don’t Use Facebook

This post has nothing to do with personal finance. But, since I’m finishing my degree in Communications this year, I hope it’s ok if I share my thoughts on blogging, social media, etc. from time-to-time. With that being said, I might as well jump right in by saying four words no one I know ever says:

“I don’t have Facebook.”

For as much time as I spend on Twitter, it may surprise you to know that I don’t also use Facebook. And this is something that is fairly new for me. I created my Facebook profile in December 2006 and did everything with it that you could expect an avid user to do. I posted status updates daily, photo albums weekly or monthly, and changed my profile picture anytime a new and flattering photo of me was uploaded. I made a few million bucks on FarmVille, lost a hundred games of Scrabble, and put digital gifts under friends’ Christmas trees. And don’t even get me started on how many times I was single or in a relationship. (Surprisingly, it was never complicated.)

But then it slowly all stopped mattering. A couple years ago, I stopped playing games and removed all applications’ access to my profile. Last year, I deleted all my photos and only posted status updates. Then, in August 2011, I deactivated my profile altogether. Despite working towards my degree in Communications, and loving the prospects of what social networking can do for people and businesses, the biggest factor in my decision to stop using Facebook was, in fact, school. After writing a few academic papers on how individuals only express the version of themselves they want people to see online, I couldn’t take any profile picture or status update seriously. Slowly, even my own words began to feel fake. And, eventually, I started to realize that more people used Facebook to complain than to share happy, positive thoughts.

Every time I logged on, I would write supportive comments on status updates, reply to schoolmates’ complaints, and wish mere acquaintances a happy birthday. And even if my friends and acquaintances offered that same support in return, I often logged off feeling disappointed. Why? I still can’t quite answer that. I’ve read it could be because everyone judges and compares themselves to their “friends.” To a point, I can agree with that. And with Facebook groups like, “I’m not getting married, buying a condo, or having a baby,” we’re certainly not alone. But, at the end of the day, Facebook just wasn’t adding any substance to my life. Creeping on people I didn’t know and gawking over bad photos of people who were once rude to me was not only a waste of time, it was negative behaviour.

When I first deactivated my account, people panicked. “Did you delete me from Facebook?” was the most common (and ludicrous) question I received via text. “Why?” was a close second. People asked for explanations, as though I knew something they didn’t. Like Facebook was about to release a virus or I was hiding a life-altering secret. Finally, people asked if I was just leaving temporarily. For a few months, I answered this question with a yes. As of right now, I don’t think I will ever reactivate or open a new Facebook account. First of all, it took a month for me to stop typing “f-a-c-e…” when I sat down at my keyboard and that is not a habit I want to pickup again. Second, I’m not missing anything by not having it.

“How do you talk to people?” is a question I still get, when I tell people I don’t have Facebook. Did you know that communication existed before Facebook? Well, it did and still does. So, I text my friends. I email my friends. And, best of all, I call my friends. They text back. We share the few pictures that matter. And if they don’t return my call, we’re probably not “friends,” after all.

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