Facebook has 28 million registered users, 1.7 billion pictures uploaded and 120,370,000 visits in the previous 30 days. This is not me sticking it to the Man, nor am I disregarding social conformity. This is in no way an attempt to call attention to myself more than it is for you to update your profile's status, but it's worth considering.
When deactivating your Facebook account, if you ever decide to do so, Facebook gives you a list of reasons to select from and to explain why you are making this decision. I chose the option, "I don't find Facebook useful."
I've been using Facebook for three years and just recently I've began to ask myself, "What exactly do I use Facebook for?" This question arose because for me, a typical Facebook session would involve finding out which of my acquaintances had most recently updated their profiles. I would hope that something interesting had happened, or maybe somebody "posted" some pictures from that party. Nothing interesting ever happened, and that person was too lazy to upload those pictures.
When this happened for prolonged periods of time, I'd have to occupy myself with my own profile, which led me to thinking that we spend all this time updating, and needlessly tweaking our profiles to keep up to speed with our lives, as if falling behind in these trivial tasks would have an adverse effect on our real lives. Facebook, without a doubt, has an excellent photo sharing system, but there is something beyond the ephemeral enjoyment of wall posting, tagging and all the other actions of Facebook that have become an integral part of our everyday colloquialism.
I believe that the use of AOL Instant Messenger primed us for the social atmosphere of Facebook. We are a generation of typing conversationalists. I looked back through logged conversations, hoping to find some written jewel that might provide some incentive to at least keep AIM as a part of my life. I realized that the only people I actually benefited from conversing with online were my best friends, the people I called on the weekends just to say "Hi" to. Basically, the people I actually looked forward to seeing.
Assistant psychology professor John Johanson at Winona State University couldn't have clarified the social motives behind Facebook any better: "It is the desire to create relationships, even more than maintaining them […] this could readily explain why a student has 2,000 Facebook 'friends.'" To me, AIM has become nothing more than an away-message stalker's haven and Facebook a perpetual struggle for diversion resulting in disappointment.
It's been two weeks now without these "social utilities," and like some sort of cyber-addict coping from a lack of societal stimuli, I more than often have this spontaneous urge to check up on somebody's profile or IM somebody something unimportant. Believe it or not, life can and does continue after the abandonment of these utilities, which have become so ingrained in our daily lives, so habitually infused that we can barely discern them from real-life interpersonal interactions.
These were my simple choices. This is my liberating experience. I'm not asking for anyone to start some sort of anti-cyber-social crusade, I just want you to understand what we are using today and how it affects us daily.