My Facebook fast

by Beacon Staff • March 18, 2009

"Welcome to Facebook!" the home page exclaims. For the past three years, I've seen this greeting every day. But recently, for a full week, I said goodbye.

Facebook fever is now a full-blown epidemic. Try as they might to fight the urges, the majority of the Web site's 175 million users check their profiles multiple times a day.

I asked myself, "What would happen if I, an average college student and avid Facebook user, pledged to go one full week without Facebook?"

About relationships, people say, "If it's not on Facebook, it's not real." The question I really wanted to answer was: "If I'm not on Facebook, am I not real?"

bDAY ONE./b Already off to a terrible start. I must contact a girl for an interview, and without any e-mail address or phone number, Facebook is my only means of contact. Upon signing on, a little red flag catches my eye, notifying me someone had written on my wall. I try to overcome the urge to view the post, but apparently Facebook's power is stronger than my will, so I have to heed its call. I guess I'll start my Facebook fast tomorrow.

bDAY TWO./b A Little Building floormate tells me a story about her friend from high school and insists I look at pictures on Facebook. Only after five minutes of the voyeuristic viewing of photos of a complete stranger do I realize what has happened. I may not be logged on, but Facebook has cleverly sneaked back into my life.

bDAY THREE./b It's my roommate's birthday. I almost forget because I no longer have Facebook as my safety net. Might it be possible that I have to rely on memory alone? Might I actually have to have human interaction to remember this special day in my friend's life? The horror! Miraculous as it was, I do in fact remember the event. Her smug, only half-joking inquiry as to where her generic "Happy Birthday" wall post from me was settles in my head. Never mind the card, present, cake and decorations I got for her celebration. Clearly the festivities are not complete until a wall post is executed.

bDAY FOUR/b. When going through withdrawal, people say day three is the toughest. The temptation grows by the minute. They are wrong. With each passing day, images of notifications and event invitations and bumper sticker requests swim through my mind. I am powerless to stop them. I receive a text message: A friend has left an "uber-cool" video on my Facebook wall. Now who among us can resist a hearty video full of dancing and inside jokes not written, but recorded and broadcasted for all to see on Facebook? This week, I must. The video will just have to wait.

bDAY FIVE./b I find that upon turning on the computer, my first instinct is to promptly type "facebook.com" into Safari. Facebook is so ingrained into my daily routine that this is second nature. I have been getting phone calls (yes, plural) asking if I have died. No, no, I am still alive, I tell them. And with that, I assuage concerns over unanswered wall posts and a lack of congratulatory text messages regarding particularly amusing bumper stickers.

bDAY SIX./b I wake up having dreamt of my Facebook profile.

bDAY SEVEN./b The final day. Come midnight, I am a free woman, ready to delve back into the cyber-world that has bled over into my reality. Reflecting back, I realize what I have accomplished in my week without Facebook. Sure it doesn't seem like much, but I have done what most Facebook users dare not think about: endured one measly little week without Facebook.

I muse how I have mastered myself and my temptations, and how I've found my willpower. That said, I know full well that I will soon be back on my profile page, combing through the waves of notifications, picture comments and status updates that have built up over seven days.

I survived, but not without sacrifice. I missed a friend's break up, I missed an event I was invited to only on Facebook and, worst of all, I missed keeping in touch with friends at other schools or in other states, who-let's face it-I wouldn't bother to call. Maybe Facebook is there for us as a comfort, as a surefire way to check in on friends. But our dependence has gone too far: It may be the only addiction whose kicking prompts friends to ask, "Are you nuts?" The social isolation is enough to punish anyone who falls off the wagon, so to speak. Even for one week.

But can we blame anyone for not wanting to give it up? Stay off the Web site for one day and you've missed enough to be out of the loop.

When I returned to the home page, I was greeted by the customary, "Welcome to Facebook!"

This greeting should continue: "You can log out anytime you like, but you can never leave."

iStacia Kimler is a freshman writing, literature and publishing major and a contributor to/i The Beacon.