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The following is a journal entry from Research & Technical Writing class, written after reading this interesting article about the social networking revolution. It also explains my recent Facebook absence.

Who Am I, Again?

This prompt comes at an interesting time: I have been completely off of Facebook for sixteen days, and my plan is to continue this hiatus for at least sixteen more. Just prior to my withdrawal, a Facebook app determined that I was only 51% addicted to the service. I agree with that; half of the site’s community seemed to be significantly more active than I. And yet, the talons of social networking do penetrate deeper than I knew.

The decision to go cold turkey occurred after an evening of half-baked scholastic effort, constantly interrupted by Facebook browsing. At this particularly busy season of my life, I need to stay very much on task in order to fulfill all of my responsibilities – even if that task is resting. Facebook had become a drone of low-calibre entertainment in my life, a sedative that I would draw on multiple times a day. Facebook was for the times that I didn’t feel one hundred percent motivated to do something else. I was tired of facing that beckoning portal of self-indulgence.

I turned off all email alerts and set my language to Hebrew. This setting, of course, both encrypts and flips the orientation of the oh-so-familiar page. Also, my new, unused password exposes the insecurities that lead me to hang out on Facebook in the first place — measures to ensure that I will not surreptitiously log back on in a moment of weakness. Nevertheless, my first thought the next morning was to whether or not I should hint at my interesting dream in my status update.

I wonder, why am I compelled to offer my thoughts as a commodity? Shouldn’t they be worth more? Perhaps people should have to pursue me in more substantial ways to gain access to them. I used to make an art of profile pictures and carefully conceive each status update. Why? I suppose I wanted to be pursued more, and faster. But now I see that I have not been pursued better in ninety percent of Facebook interactions. A couple weeks removed from my News Feed, I am sensing the freedom from grooming my online identity. If I must already fight the fear of how my immediate social circle perceives me, I cannot afford to cater to the ambient awareness of 300 profile-perusers.

The search for a healthy and balanced life usually demands reconditioning, and I have found it good to periodically abstain from the things I assume to be essential. Ironically enough, with my online shrine to self shut and locked, the competing sacred cow of identity-through-productivity arises. When can I fast from school and work? But that is another journal entry for another time.

5 Responses to “Facebook v. Life”

  1.  Mom Says:

    That NYTimes article was fabulous and thorough!
    Wishing you continued Facebook FREEEEEDOM!!

  2.  Hannah Says:

    hello rachel leigh! i have also been off Facebook for several weeks now and i find it so refreshing. i just finished reading the article you linked and it was … interesting to say the least. i have to say that the internet doesn’t make me a happier, calmer person, but i’m sure it has that effect on some people. 🙂

    i agree with you–you should be worth seeking out. i hope you are doing well. i really should get around to writing a letter to you.
    love, hannah lamp

  3.  Samuel Says:

    ah !! Well done Rachel !!
    bien vu le coup de la page en Hébreux ! !
    Where did you get the Facebook addicted app ? ?

    Also !! I’ve found out that Facebook had been a good thing for many !! let me explain that really quickly : Before Facebook, life was normal..
    Facebook came up, we all get attracted by that, and we live differently, with Facebook our link to other people…
    Then, you say: “I’m fed up with that” , you quit it !! And now.. you enjoy even more “real” life !!
    Now, if you take the “before Facebook” time and the “After Facebook” time, you see that you enjoy more life !!
    haha, that was said really quickly, and I’m not sure it got understoodable.. (I’m not even sure i’m able writing english anymore..)
    ok but i’m glad of what you’ve done !! go on Rachel !

  4.  Sheri Says:

    I have to smile when I read this. When I was young (so long ago) we did not have Facebook. So every church camp I attended, I took on pen pals. By the time I was your age I had figured out that people were just not writers and I also thought that if I were important to them, they would expend the energy to keep in touch. I dumped a lot of them (I was writing to over 50 people) and turned to only staying in touch with those who would write back (about 5!) It was very freeing and a bit scary at the time!

    Later in my early 30s I started a newsletter. I had the newsletter for 14 years (until I started college and a blog) and kept it contained to those people and my immediate family who are scattered about the Midwest. I may return to that after college or get a family blog going. My current blog, while open to anyone who is interested, is set to not be found by Google… I am writing for my friends, not everyone.

    In my 40s, FB has been seen as an easy way of keeping in touch with all those people who are a more “loose” connection. I don’t put a whole lot of effort into it, but it is there when I need to reach out and connect with someone I know might have an answer for me. It is how I got my camera (touching base with a photographer I used to work with) or how I got some help on a couple of Illustrator projects from someone in my online community who is a graphic artist. In my situation, it is a tool.

    However, keeping in touch with people you love is difficult enough without added pressure! So I support you in turning it off. If it is a pressure… let it go. Who needs that? We who love and care about you know where to find you… here on a wonderful blog!!!

  5.  Emilie Says:

    Hey Girl!!!

    Sam m’a dit à propos de ton article sur Facebook, et maintenant enfin, je prends le temps d’y jeter un oeil!

    J’ai aussi fait le pas!! Haha! FREEDOOOOOOM!! Mais ce n’est pas facile (mdr, on dirait une réunion des alcooliques anonymes qui essayent d’arrêter de boire! Mais on en est là : c’était une addiction!). Bref.

    Je crois que je vais faire pareil que toi : mettre en mode hébreux, et un code tout long et incompréhensible que j’oublierai! NA!

    Enfin, depuis que je ne vais plus sur Facebook…je me demande comment j’ai pu prendre le temps d’y aller auparavant! Il y a tellement de choses à faire dans cette vie! Bien plus constructives et créatives que Facebook!! Bref, pour une vie plus épanouissante et moins virutelle! =) Vive le piano, l’écriture, la peinture, la danse (oui, je me suis mise à tout ça!)! Et bien sûr, le Saint-Esprit! =) Tu as tellement raison!

    Avec tout plein d’amour! Youhou! En étant déconnectée de facebook, on est connectée toute les deux ma soeur! Même à des miliers de kilomètres on vit la même chose! Haha! lol!