The 2nd Great Facebook Experiment

Once upon a time, I was challenged to give up Facebook because a girlfriend thought I was addicted to the social network. Personally, I don’t feel like I’ve ever had an unhealthy relationship with the social network, but I have made it no secret that I’ve struggled with a much larger Internet addiction. One need look no further than my multiple “digital detox” efforts for proof. But as I continue my struggle to find balance, I’m forced to ask myself the question: do I really need Facebook in my life?

So I’m going to deactivate my Facebook account to find out.

Every so often, I meet people who don’t use Facebook at all, and shockingly they seem to live pretty normal lives. They don’t appear to exist on a lesser level because of the absence of Facebook; in fact, it often seems like their lives are more fulfilling, or at the very least, their filled with less BS. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit envious of these people.

More to the point though, using Facebook just isn’t something I enjoy anymore. In fact, a lot of the time it feels like work. The constant stream of notifications has gone from being interesting and useful to just plain noise. I’m constantly invited to events I could care less about, for instance; qt one point in time, Facebook Events were probably the most useful part of the social network. Lately I’m finding that networks like Twitter and Instagram are far more engaging and useful to me, partly because they’re so focused on one thing (instead of trying to be everything).

This is why I’m trying once and for all to give up Facebook. Well, maybe not quite, but I do want to experiment with the notion. How different would my life be if I stopped using Facebook? Would I become a social outcast? Without the convenience of event invitations, would my friends bother to extend the invitation over less convenient channels, like phone calls, text messaging, or email?

The biggest difficulty in this undertaking is actually more about Facebook as a login service rather than as the social network. Using my account to sign up for services is just too easy sometimes, and there are several that I use regularly (such as Spotify) that are intimately tied to Facebook. Removing these connections has proved more difficult than I expected. Spotify was easy enough to purge of Facebookery, but games like Scramble with Friends (which I have a small addiction to) are stubbornly trying to keep me locked in. If I can’t find a solution in the next couple days, I suppose I’ll be forced to give them up with Facebook.

I’ve been thinking about this for over a month now, inspired in part by Paul Miller’s year-long Internet sabbatical. I don’t think I’d ever want to go as far as disconnecting completely, but I am hoping to develop a much healthier relationship with technology and the internet in general. This is just one of many steps I’ll be taking (or have already taken) in the next few months, but it’s perhaps the most drastic. I’ll keep you updated on how the experiment progresses.

Ciao Facebook!