When I first created a Facebook account, I was ecstatic. I was on the internet, with my own space to fill with photos and videos that represented who I was. I could connect with friends and people I had never even met, with a click of the button. It was all so easy. The world of social networking had taken shape and I held a tiny corner of it.
Facebook came out when I was just beginning high school, which is already a vulnerable stage for any young teenager. Facebook was marketed as a way to stay connected with friends you met in college and yet the use of the social networking site expanded drastically. Older adults, parents, teenagers and even pets had pages that made up the millions of users. As a teenager, cyber bullying was in full force and I was a part of the first generation to experience it. Peers didn’t know the consequences of their words online, parents didn’t know how to protect their children from it, and even school districts were forced to figure out how to navigate through this new form of bullying that followed their students home.
Without going into too much depth about my experience with cyberbullying, since this isn’t what the post is about, let’s just say I grew to develop an unhealthy relationship with social media. Growing up in a digital generation wasn’t easy. Perhaps I wasn’t cut out for the online world, but the importance of other’s comments, remarks, or likes quickly grew to alter my self-esteem. After graduating high school and gaining a healthier sense of self with a lot of hard work, I went away to college and thought it would all be easier. Yet, I continued my social media use with no idea that that was one of the main factors in my increasing depression.
I started to look at social media in a different way, thinking that if I altered my perception of how I could use this platform I would inevitably erase the negativity I felt came with it. In a previous post “Social Media: to Like or to Deactivate” I wrote about my quest to push positivity and enlightening material to my “friends” online. I soon came to realize based on the lack of reactions on these new and unconventional posts that no one was interested in the same things that I wanted to spread on my page. I didn’t want to fill my corner of the internet with photos of me binge drinking with my college roommates anymore, I wanted to post thought provoking Ted Talks or political news articles.
Ultimately, I deleted my account one year ago and I have never regretted it. A year without Facebook has been a year without reading the baggage of others ranting status updates. A year without comment wars between two uneducated individuals who simply fight through a computer screen, without taking any action towards what they are ultimately arguing for. A year that I have been free to unapologetically not care if people dislike what I post about.
With all of that being said, the lack of Facebook in my life has made some things more difficult. I am constantly asked if I “saw that video I posted last week” or “Let’s just do our group project over Facebook chat. What’s your name?” or “I’ll tag you on Facebook”. All of which I find alternate ways of connecting with others. Facebook is a go to, easy site to share things with friends and families and I understand that, but it isn’t the only way.
Not only has the lack of Facebook lessened the amount of time I spend mindlessly scrolling on the internet, but it has helped the relationship I have with myself and my boyfriend. A year ago, we both deleted our facebook accounts and it’s deleted a lot of issues as well. Facebook is a mechanism in which it’s easy to find people and connect, which means it is also harder to get away from people you no longer want contact with. Facebook takes a toll on romantic relationships when it comes to trust. Many relationships no longer have the same expectations or restrictions that they once did. Commenting on the opposite sex’s photos they post, secretly messaging them over chat, searching their name and creeping on their profile has all become so astonishingly easy. In this new age of social media and in our generation, we grow up with technology lurking in our shadow. We are the ones who must navigate through new waters to figure out where the boundaries lay.
I simply created my own boundaries and am still treading water.