Monday, 25 January 2010

The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we do so

A month ago today I deleted my Facebook account. I originally joined in 2006. Final year of University. In the computer room queue, people discussed how many friends they had in this strange online community and were eager to update their statuses. I joined more out of intrigue than desire to accumulate my friends into a concrete number. I'd always thought it weird when someone could reel off how many friends they had. The fact that they bothered to count alerted my senses to a loser from loserville.

Soon enough, the bug had bitten. I jumped on the bandwagon- it felt dirty, wrong- and so right all at once. I latched onto the novelty of being social without seeing anyone. Housemates would message me from their bedrooms instead of calling up the stairs because it was more fun that way. I could sit at my desk and still chat with my friends. 'Hey, I'm in the library trying to study!' 'Really? I'm at home writing my essay. Cool.' Yes, it was.

I became the Facebook master. I can hold my own in a conversation but give me a blank page and I am witty perfection in cyber form. It became an addictive tool of procrastination when I really should have been writing my dissertation about Gray's Model of Impulsivity. (Don't ask. I may harm you).

When I left University, however, things changed. Stepping away from my social network- where conversations started online and were resumed in the real world- suddenly I had no real world. My only way of communicating with University friends was through this non-social channel, and it grew tiresome.

All the non-verbal tools of communication- recognition of facial expressions, body language, eye contact, gestures- had no forum on Facebook. Then there's the auditory means of communicating, such as voice tonality. Can we really glean true meaning of speech if it hasn't been spoken?

The accumulation of these points made the decision to quit Facebook an easy one. Friends pleaded with me not to leave and I admit, sometimes, a part of me didn't want to. A small part. When I finally deactivated that account, I felt surprisingly liberated, a feeling which continued. It was no longer necessary to constantly check my page or think of something witty to say. The pressure was off.

So reader, it has been a month. I am in contact with those I wish- not the false set of friends acquired. Gone are those people whose friend requests I accepted because I walked past them in school or smiled at them at work. I have no care except for those I really care about. Now I write letters and pick up that thing called a telephone. How very old fashioned of me...


  1. frankly i'm disappointed to see some of my friends doing nothing but farmville all day long when i finally gave in to facebook lately. i miss hand written letters and phone calls more now. great points here and i completely agree.

  2. Hi, Lou. Keep fighting the power. I found FB interesting for about two weeks. Since then, I might check it on a monthly basis.

  3. So, when are you going to call me? Just kidding. A letter will be fine.

  4. I went through something similar myself recently - though I didn't have the bottle to leave altogether. I did, however, delete 120-odd 'friends'...very liberating. I promote my blog on there now so can't leave...or am I just making excuses Lou? Anyway, how's the job hunting going?

    Plentymorefishoutofwater - a blog about one man's dating disasters

  5. Please show me how! It's driving me nuts

  6. UberGrumpy: I have no idea what you're talking about? Is Facebook driving you nuts? Are you nuts? Tell me more, please.

    Fish: I have a post coming over the weekend about the job hunt. New and more depressing experiences went down at the job centre this week.

    Everyone should follow me in quitting facebook. Step away from its control. Fight back people. Fight back! :)

  7. Lou, yep the fb thing is kinda like havin a foot nailed to the floor, it is nice to be old fashioned sometimes, like thank=you notes and such.

  8. Plainolebob: Yay, you agree with me! I like being old fashioned though I think i was old fashioned at birth. Haha. Hugs right back at ya, pal. :)

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  11. I completely understand your pov. I think the whole thing is a bit fake. (I am, however, addicted to their games. Huge waste of time). And I don't care to hear people bitch and moan about stupid things, and I'm certain the feeling is mutual.

    FB is the lazy man's way of keeping in touch. HOWEVER...I've rekindled a few friendships with people I've lost touch with for years and years. (You're probably too young for such phenomena, but they do exist).

    Of course, those people and I lost touch for reasons, reasons that seemed important at the time, but they're silly now. I'm very glad that FB is around for just that one thing.

    ps: sorry for my deletions, too early in the day for me!

  12. Hey Kitty! That's okay. You make good points about FB, ones which i think of ocassionally when i wonder if i shouldn't have deleted my account. But i saw the negatives far outweigh the positives. Such a shame really. And i was just starting to communicate with my canadian cousins... oh well. :(

  13. So true! F.B. really is mostly a waste of time. I have been thinking about deleting mine for a while now. Maybe I'll just DO it! I really enjoyed your post.


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