I’ve been thinking about leaving Facebook behind for the past couple of weeks. It seems a strange thing to do when so many people are using it, and even stranger when you consider the fact that my family is hundreds of miles away. But I’ve noticed a trend with myself lately: every single time I open Facebook on my computer, I close it feeling sadder than when I opened it. The sadness is varied: sometimes it’s loneliness, sometimes it’s homesickness, sometimes it’s jealousy (yes, I know that’s a bad thing to feel, but at least I admit it!), and sometimes it’s just nothing at all.
I’ve posted a link to an article before: Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? For a while, I found it to be a great way to keep in touch with people that are so far away, but it occurs to me now that it might be the worst way I’ve ever found to keep in touch with the people that matter.
My biggest problem with it is that it’s so impersonal. I feel like so many times there is the opportunity for a real conversation, but it’s avoided because it’s so simple to agree by clicking the “Like” button. On top of that, most of my Facebook experiences involve a quick “Happy birthday!” to or from other people, sometimes with the “We should catch up soon” tacked on for good measure. As much as I appreciate the sentiment (I do!), I’d prefer it to be a more personal conversation. Even an email would be more effective – in any situation.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m guilty of this too. I don’t remember many birthdays, and I don’t write a lot of emails, let alone making phone calls or (gasp) writing letters. But I wish I did. I would love to go to the mailbox and actually receive a paper letter, signed by someone who cares about me. Or pick up the telephone to find someone on the other end that isn’t a) a wrong number, b) trying to sell me something, or c) a survey or scam. What happened to personal communication?
I guess what I’m curious about is this: if I decided to close down my account, or even suspend it for a while, would that help things? Would people get in touch with me? (I’m assuming that if I were to close it down, I’d make sure people could get my email address at the very least before I did so.) Would I feel more lonely than before, or would my conversations and relationships grow stronger because real conversation would be necessary?
Have you ever considered leaving a social network behind? What are your thoughts on the subject?