The Pros and Cons of Deleting Your Facebook

Ever since I had the audacity to ask the question “Is Facebook Over?“, my life has been turned upside down. I have found myself wandering the city not knowing my left from my right, only to end up passed out in the dryer of a Chinese laundromat. My mental breakdown was triggered not from an unwise mixture of Ambien and pot brownies, but from the harsh realization that I might have to delete my Facebook very soon. Because in the past year alone, it has done the following things to me:

Number of times it has caused me to hate an acquaintance just a little bit more by reading their unnecessary status updates: 281

Number of times it has given me the unsettling feeling of being left out by looking at pictures of my friends at parties I wasn’t invited to: 198.

Number of times it has delayed my emotional progress by allowing me to lurk no good very bad people I’ve cut from my life: 304.

Number of times I’ve felt paranoid that Mark Zuckerberg has sold my identity to a marketing company in Asia: 70.

Number of hours I have spent just staring in anticipation of that red number to come up and indicate I have a new message: THAT IS PRIVATE AND SHAMEFUL INFORMATION. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Like with any major decision, one must make a pros and cons list. So that’s what I did. I made a pros and cons list for deleting my Facebook. Yup. Because that’s what life is like for a gurl in 2011, okay? Sigh.

Pro: I will be an overall more productive person

Con: I will be a very bored productive person.

Pro: I will no longer have to read status updates from a girl in my high school about it being a beautiful day in Fresno today.

Con: I will no longer be able to laugh at status updates from a girl in my high school about it being a beautiful day in Fresno today.

Pro: I don’t know anything about my exes.

Con: I don’t know anything about my exes!

Pro: I will no have to field invitations from some event promoter about his party.

Con: I might miss an invite to an actual party I want to go to. And people won’t bother to tell me in person because they’ll assume I have a Facebook. OMG, we are just all technology’s bitch!

Pro: My family members on Facebook will no longer know about the times I get drunk and post a status update about it.

Con: There is absolutely no con to that.

Pro: I will no longer become unhealthily obsessed with people I don’t know.

Con: Strangers will no longer be able to get unhealthily obsessed with me.

Pro: I will have an air of mystery about me.

Con: People might forget that I exist.

People forgetting about my existence is what really gets to me. If I went to a party or on a vacation and didn’t document it on my Facebook, did it really happen? Does it just chip away at my presence as a human being and force me to wear an invisibility cloak? I know all of this is crap. I know that I don’t even lurk my close friends on Facebook. Instead, we see each other IRL, talk on the phone and communicate on Gchat. Facebook has no influence on the relationships that actually matter to me. It’s the people on the periphery who get to stick around past their expiration date. If I deleted it, those are the kinds of people who would become casualties. And who cares, right? Let them fade away! I have almost 800 friends on Facebook, but only hang out with a handful of people in real life. Isn’t that bizarre? Who are these 790 friends of mine? When’s the last time we actually hung out? Do I even know them? If I don’t, why would I want them to know me?

All of this rhetoric is making me want to simultaneously delete my Facebook and check to see if I have any new messages. Regardless of my decision, I think we can all agree that Facebook has messed with my generation’s lives in a very real way. It has dictated our day to day lives by creating new social rules and etiquette we must abide by. It’s basically turned us into paranoid neurotic messes who are afraid of a real human connection. Mark, why do you have such contempt for us? TC mark

image – Wikipedia

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  • natural

    I deleted my facebook just days ago, and boy does it make you feel morally superior.

  • IRLfriendsarebetter

    I found a happy medium by purging my friends list of all the people on my Facebook who I have no desire to associate with IRL.

    Deleting 150 people was VERY cathartic.

  • Ashley

    I think deleting the people you don't actually talk to/care about is a more productive option. Facebook chat has taken over the role of AIM (which apparently people don't use anymore? I'm not one of them) but basically, it's become the only way to get in touch with those people you don't necessarily call, but want/need to get in touch with on occasion. Ex: if my brother doesn't answer his phone and doesn't use AIM, leaving him a message/wall post is a much more productive option. JUST SAYIN' that's basically the only reason I keep mine.

  • Miranda

    I think the answer is not to delete Facebook altogether, but to go through your friends every so often and purge all the people who are annoying you or who you never talk to. I couldn't imagine deleting my Facebook, but that might change once I'm no longer in college. Right now, Facebook is a priceless tool for my social life.

    • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

      It became more even important for me (3 years) after college.

  • http://twitter.com/lilennox Lindsay Lennox

    “Pro: I will have an air of mystery about me.

    Con: People might forget that I exist.”

    This is, in fact, the underlying tension behind every form of social media. It reminds me of that guy (a professor? or somebody similar) who created an email auto-response letting people know that he longer uses email. It's a bold move that signals high status IF you're high status enough to pull it off; going off FB is similar.

  • http://profiles.google.com/joeparreno Joseph Parreno

    I just deleted my account this morning. Anyway, the way I see it is that those who are close to me will keep in touch and those who aren't will whittle away.

  • http://twitter.com/andshewasnt genna mae

    I deleted my profile for four months last year, and my social life took such a dive. I quite liked being able to resist creeping on exes and wasting time and stuff like that, but not being invited to parties felt pretty shitty after a while.
    (Somehow it's only people I'm kind-of-sort-of acquainted with that have parties. My close friends and I spend too much time studying and never really have time to plan fun shit.)

  • Hertzy
  • http://twitter.com/HipsterFriend HipsterFriend

    I deleted 3 months ago. It's really good. I love it. That's how I discovered TC- looking for other nooks and crannies in the internet. I started a blog, started writing more of my own stuff, subscribing to other people's blogs. My RSS replaced my News Feed, and now instead of updates about how “ObAmAz a KeNyIn TeRrOrIsT kOmMuNeSt” I get well-thought-out, well-written, intelligent updates from TC and others.

    I say do it. Purging friends is fine, but the problem isn't just who, it's wasting your time on a website that sells your info.

    As for people forgetting you, if they only remember you via FB, do you really want to know them? I remember a friend of mine texted me to see if I was OK; she thought I had been “wiped” by the government or something like that. That's a friend I want to keep.

    • http://twitter.com/magalinahag alia

      It's like you read my mind. I agree with every word and my experience has been the same.

    • starseed

      agree to ALL of this. i deleted mine 2 months ago and haven't looked back. i'm really enjoying using my time discovering new sites and procrastinating in other ways, just as you are HipsterFriend.

      but most of all, it's refreshing to run into someone and not have that fake conversation where you ask how they're doing when really you're totally already aware that they just got back from thailand, their dog had diarrhea last week, they were late for work this morning, and starbucks screwed up their coffee.

      • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

        Yea, and I have certain close friends who I never interact with on FB, because like, that's what gchat and texts are for with them. So I know way more about my work acquaintances' or high school classmates' trips to Thailand than I do about theirs.

  • chelseafagan

    Hahahaha, Ryan, this was great.

    My ex boyfriend used to shame me for having a Facebook. He is one of those rare creatures who never had one, and always used the airtight reasoning of,

    “I have a cellphone, a landline, an email address, a mailbox, and a front door. If people want me, they can find me.”

    It's very true, but he was also kind of a sociopath, so I'm still on the fence.

  • Aelya

    I have less than a 100 friends on Facebook. Out of that number, there are still a handful that made the list, not because I actually talk to them, but because deleting them would just be too much drama. The chances of running into these people are high, and who wants to deal with the awkwardness of face-to-face conversation with a person that is no longer on your Facebook? How on earth will they validate their encounter with you?

    I hate half the people I know and where I live. Grah.

  • soulunsold

    Holy shit. Dilemma of the moment. Ryan are you psychic. I was one moment of indecisiveness away from clicking the “deactivate” button yesterday. I was able to get past the “Friend 241 & 589 will miss you” and the accompanying guilt-pics. Then I had second thoughts: I'd miss out on all the unproductive online fun. Realize that there's IRL bonding, and then there are the wallposts, tags, likes–the whole package of online validation–and that one can't substitute for the other. IRL experiences are relived online, and online interaction is strengthened by IRL bonding. If you miss out on one, you'll miss out on parts of the conversation. It's a system you can't escape, especially if 95% of your relationships are in it.

    I ended up clicking the Profile tab instead.

  • 69ingchipmunks

    Well, I have at many times considered deleting my account, but quite unable to do so not because I am addicted to Facebook; quite the contrary- that I actually use it to catch up and keep in touch with my school and university friends who are now in different countries. Of course FB is no alternative to a good old fashioned lunch at the local cafe, but that option isn't available to me. And strangely enough, people hesitate to call you on the phone or even on VOIP, citing every excuse from different time zones, mobile on the fritz and so forth. If I trusted my friends to email, call, write letters and send postcards, I would have long ago deleted my FB account. The fact that they don't hold, me and my personal data ransom online.

    A good post by the way!!

    Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/ward_hegedus Ward Hegedus

    Um, I'd really like to be facebook friends with you now.

  • Morgan

    Don't know how you do it Ryan but you get it!! Only go on Fb on Monday for half an hour. That way I get my fix, reply to stuff and still remain productive and relatively unfucked over.

  • http://twitter.com/alinatrifan Alina Trifan

    I think Facebook (and social networks in general) is good, with also a good potential to cause damage. It's all about the right way of (ab)using it.

    The thought that we no longer exist into people's lives just because we aren't on Facebook anymore is an overall wrong idea.

    However, if one needs a refreshing break, delete that goddamned account

    just to come back later.

  • star colonel marcus kotaire

    sheer brilliance:

    Pro: I will now have to field invitations from some event promoter about his party.

  • http://www.twovisionaries.com Joseph Piccininni, Jr.

    Ryan O'Connell you are a Visionary

  • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

    Triteness alert: But really, after collecting lots of people who I like in college and grad school and living in lots of places, it's a great way to keep up with people. Because we all have those friends that aren't the A-team, and you maybe haven't talked to for a year, but you're in their city visiting and you go to the bar, and you pick up where things left off with no problem.

    But honestly, calling someone I haven't talked to in months is a lot of work, plus I hate phone calls (yes I'm one of those). Posting youtube vids on their wall is a lot easier way of saying “I like you and miss you, but don't worry I wont call you and ask you 'so what's been happening…for the last 8 months, quick summary, go!'”

  • Silvia

    You've described perfectly the dilemma.
    I actually deleted my FB account last year, because I was sick of it, and frankly just kept wondering why would I want to see updates from people I don't even like or hang out with irl.
    A couple of months ago, I came to Germany to study and made another FB account following a request from a couple of friends so that they could see what I was up to, and share pictures etc, and only added my irl group of friends.
    Which amounts to about 9 people. Still, the sheer amount of acquaintances that have requested to 'friend' me is mind numbing. Hello? I only saw you in French class twice a week for a couple months, leave me alone. And no, I don't want to be reminded that you have moved on and are dating a 'great gal', asshole.
    As soon as I get back home I'm deleting this account. FB just stresses me out.

  • http://twitter.com/KevinMacTweets Kevin Mac

    I feel like Facebook just provides the means to amplify the neuroses we already have. The internet lets us explore our insanity with ease! :)

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

    I deleted my facebook almost a year ago. Immediately a cool feeling of relief swept over me. When I sat down at my computer I could think straight again. I was more productive and less worried about silliness. I didn't wake up dreading that I would dislike someone for their weird political views which they've chosen to loudly voice on my wall. I won't have some obnoxious coworker coming up to me and demanding to know why I didn't accept their facebook request (umm probably because you pull shit like this). If you're thinking of deleting it, do it. You won't regret it because the good friends stay in your life, no matter what.

    The only thing I do miss are the photo albums. People tell me often that they miss my photos (which is a really nice thing to hear) but when I left, they went with me!

  • EmiliaBedelia

    Delete it. I frequently see people on FB in cafes or libraries and think “suckas! I'm more free than you!”

    Also, my social life increased 100% after I deleted FB. It meant I had to *actually* try to make friends.

    The only downside is you won't have a shrine that is 100% Ryan O'Connell themed. Sometimes I flirt with the idea of getting FB so I could creep myself. But in the end, the social anxiety of a thing like FB is not worth it.

  • JEAmaty

    Facebook and Real Life are now equal. If something happens in Real Life, there must be a Facebook event for it and a subsequent photo album OR ELSE THE EQUILIBRIUM OF THE UNIVERSE WILL BE THROWN OFF BALANCE!!!!

  • marsupial

    I mean, you kinda hit the nail on the head dude. It's that weird ingrained paranoia about losing our relevance to hundreds of people who don't give a fuck whether we're happy, sad, passed out in our own vomit, whatever. But they still look at pictures of use passed out in our own vomit, and we look at theirs, and somehow everyone comes out feeling validated, important, and just… not so alone, even though no actual human interaction has occurred. It's this weird narcissistic but simultaneously isolating none-space that everyone feels absolutely obliged to (and so freakishly pleased about this obligation) but that really doesn't bring ANY quantifiable gain to anybody's life.

    It's really pretty gross. I deleted mine and I'm a-ok. You will be too, brotha. We all will be.

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