It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. It wasn’t a considered decision made after a long anguished tussle between my head and my heart. It wasn’t because of concerns about privacy or hacking or the erosion of true friendship. I just deactivated Facebook because I suddenly no longer wanted to broadcast my life to the world.
And once I had clicked the button that silenced the constant outpouring of communication online, I started to like the idea. So I switched off my phone as well. No more habitual pressing of the button on the side to see if I’d missed a message arriving. No more fiddling with the internet apps to fill empty patches of time. No more sending texts just for the sake of seeing the reply arriving. Now my phone spends its days in the drawer of my desk, waking up for half an hour or so each evening to check for anything genuinely important. Most days there is nothing, and I smile wryly at how much time I’ve saved by not constantly checking for that nothing.
Today, though, four texts arrived all at once, and two emails to pass along information that would otherwise have been sent by Facebook. A rush of communication all at once, quite by chance, and my immediate instinct… is to post a dry comment about the irony on my Facebook wall. Ironic.
I haven’t stopped using the internet. In fact, coincidentally my internet usage has stepped up a notch, as I’ve taken on moderator duties for a forum and am engaged in a war against adverts for knock-off Uggs and dodgy Viagra. I’ve sent emails to friends to see how they’re doing, or dashed off an email to them to tell them about a recipe for vegan Bailey’s or an adorable video of a cat climbing into a cardboard box. Reciprocally I’ve had friends emailing (or less commonly, texting) to see how I am and to invite me to things personally instead of simply glancing at my profile to gauge the mood I reveal to the world.
It seems a fairly glum comment on society, or at least on the subset of society frequented by Cambridge students in their twenties, or perhaps simply on me, that it was my breakup with my Facebook account, and not my breakup with my boyfriend, which elicited the most surprise. The first thing my fellow law students said to me today was not “how was your Christmas?” or “Happy New Year!” but “you’re alive! You disappeared from Facebook and we were worried!”. I only know two other people who do not have Facebook; I feel part of an exclusive gang.
So if you have been worried by the sudden cessation of broadcasting from my life, do not fear. I am alive. I am fine. You can get me on my email. Come round for tea, we can catch up properly – in person.