I closed my Facebook account earlier this week, mainly because I never really used it. I checked in every other week or so, or when I got an e-mail saying someone had asked to be my “friend.” In the end, however, I closed my account because Facebook was a colossal waste of time.
The original premise of Facebook as I understood it was to increase social networking. I had seen that some lawyers and other law students were on it, so I decided to join as a way to increase professional contacts. I learned, instead, that Facebook is really a way to learn a lot of useless things about a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a long time, sometimes for more than a decade.
Do I really need to know what someone I went to grade school with and haven’t seen since 1994 had for dinner? I don’t think so. THAT is not social networking, it is, as one article suggests, a form of adolescent coming-of-age. There is a point when you grow out of it. And given the lack of genuine social networking I found, I grew out of it rather quickly. Benedict XVI’s recent statement on Facebook highlights the difference between social networking ala Facebook–that focuses on the number of friends rather than the depth of friendship–and real lasting friendships that promote social unity. As the Pope notes, excessive use of FB and other such sites can actually lead to social isolation because they do not seek to develop real friendships.
Even the secular media has caught on, suggesting that people are “growing out of” Facebook. One article in the Atlantic and one in this past Sunday’s New York Times both consider the phenomenon. As we seek to develop a true sense of communio with those around us, does Facebook help or hurt?
UPDATE: So, I’ve been off FB for six and a half months. And I’m still alive. And I still have friends. And there is nothing I desire to see or know about my FB “friends” there that makes me log on again. There is much more to life when you get offline and get into the real world. Perhaps now is the time for you to get off of FB and see what else life has to offer?
Originally published Sept. 5, 2009.