There are many factors that convinced me to deactivate my Facebook account in October, but the primary reason I deactivated my account was how it made me feel. I realized that I, probably like many others, only went on Facebook when I was alone. One of my friends made a comment one night while we were hanging out that really resonated with me. She said “Why am I on Facebook? All my friends are here.”
No one really goes on Facebook when they are with their friends. Facebooking is an activity reserved for those late nights when all your plans fall through — when your friend gets grounded last minute thus ruining your planned escapades.
Every time I was on Facebook, I wasn’t making memories of my own; instead, I was viewing the memories others created and were now visible to everyone through the pictures they posted. Sure, I would chat with friends and we would post on each other’s walls, but there was an artificiality to that connection. You can talk on Facebook all you want but, 10 years from now, you’re not going to remember those extensive messages you had via chat. Those are going to be long forgotten (Well, not exactly forgotten since Facebook so diligently records everything; but, those aren’t the memories and stories that you will tell your children someday). So in pursuit of creating lasting memories, as cheesy as that sounds, I deactivated my Facebook account.
Following the weeks of my account deactivation, I found myself at my friend’s birthday party where we were discussing the latest happenings. Somebody mentioned in passing that a longtime couple had broken up. Surprised, I asked when that had happened, and they told me that the couple had broken up weeks ago and gave me a quizzical look, shocked at my ignorance. Although I hate being out of the loop as much as the next person, I realized that, in retrospect, I really didn’t care and shouldn’t care about that couple’s breakup. Facebook had allowed me to catch a glimpse of the personal lives of many, and I became accustomed to knowing things like when someone got together, when people broke up or maybe even to what college that someone got accepted. Facebook allowed me to cross many invisible boundaries and opened the doors to boundless information about my acquaintances. There is some knowledge to which I’d rather not be privy. In deactivating my Facebook account, I activated a re-evaluation of myself and the way I spend my time.
My life certainly did not take a 180-degree turn for the better after deactivation, but it did improve in some ways. Without Facebook, I no longer was keeping tabs on my dozens of “friends” that I never talked to in real life. And in a sense, I find freedom in that escape. Although being disconnected initially sounded like an agonizing way to live my life, I find myself content in not knowing. Instead of investing my time tracking the lives of others, I can focus on my life. And I have become more productive; in fact, I finished my college applications faster than I ever anticipated. I also lost an easy gateway to procrastinate on my homework. With this extra time, I can invest it in creating meaningful memories with the people that mean the most to me — memories like searching for an Indian restaurant that serves butter chicken on a rainy night with one of my best friends, trekking into the city to see Union Square alit with holiday festivities while also reuniting with college friends home for break, or even just going to Chipotle after school to shoot the breeze over burritos.
Jacqueline Tang is a senior at Aragon High School in San Mateo. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at firstname.lastname@example.org.