The Man with No Face: Life After Social Networking

NICK VU/New University

Do I do it? Sheeeeit. Should I really do it?

But I can’t let go … so many things to do, people, places, memories and all the smiling faces, all those goddamn faces staring, unblinking, eyes unwavering, caught in the midst of some hilarious act. All those things I’ll miss out on. Inside jokes. Notes. Posts.

Wait. Wait. What the hell am I thinking anyway? What is all this fuss about?

Click — damnit. Really? I don’t even know these people. Yes, I’m sure they’re not going to miss me. Click. You’ve got to be kidding me … yes I’m sure I want to, CLICK.

Finally. Done.

Those are my first recollections of the day I finally deleted Facebook. I really don’t know what made it so hard in the first place. I never really was a heavy user.

Like most college students of this generation, I opened a Facebook account before starting my freshman year. I first heard about Facebook in high school, back when you needed an invite to join. My friend Chris was talking about it before our jazz band rehearsal.

“Blah, blah, blah … I got an invite bro,” he said.

“To what?”

“This new thing called Facebook dude. Everyone in college has one. Up until a little while ago you needed a college e-mail to have it. It’s a social thing … don’t worry, I’ll send you an invite.”

He made it sound like the coolest thing ever. I eagerly awaited my arrival home so I could get that invite and be a part of this exclusive club of high schoolers with Facebook accounts. I never got that invite. Instead I made an account just before graduation, June 2007.

For three years I was perfectly happy. Facebook was my tether to social life — to old high school friends who I couldn’t see except while on vacation, to college friends with whom I talked about how much I wanted to be back at UCI during those vacations. Facebook became the primary mode of planning, organization, procrastination and just general dicking around.

I was content, needless to say, to have my social life follow me around wherever I was, every second of my life. After all, that’s perfectly normal right?

No. When I go home I need my privacy back. Sometimes I want to just lie down and listen to music for an hour, zone out, don’t think, don’t talk, don’t do, just veg. I don’t need someone I haven’t talked to since high school or some guy I had one class with freshman year inviting me to play Farmville or Angry Birds. I don’t need to see that stupid message thread someone from the dorms posted that won’t go away because you’re trolling. No, I don’t want to post my top 25 asdfghjkl!@#*!!

“But Greg,” some of my friends asked, “Why don’t you just not go on Facebook as much? You know you don’t have to sign on.”

But that’s missing the whole point. For me, deleting Facebook became more than just putting an end to a means of procrastination or throwing out all the extra baggage from my life or whatever. It was the principle. Why, after all, did I need an online life when I had a real life to live? Why was it necessary to have social networking to fit in to today’s social scene?

I must confess, for most of my life I have been slow to adapt to new norms in technology. I never used AIM, never got a MySpace, don’t have a blog, Tumblr, Youtube channel or even a Twitter account. But why should that make someone a pariah? Why is social media so essential?

“Well, everybody has a Facebook dude.” Yeah, I know. “How will you know if there’s an event?” You have my cell number.

Just text me if you want to hang out. “What if I want to post something on your wall?” It probably doesn’t matter.

In the post-deletion period I’ve been accused of many things as my friends noticed my absence on Facebook.

“Dude, are you TFC for Facebook now?”

Hell yeah, TFC. Too fucking cool for the Internet. Too cool to spend my life online when I could be spending it outside.
One more thing, and you probably know this anyway, Facebook doesn’t actually delete an account for two weeks. If I had logged in at anytime during that initial two-week period after the deletion, my account would have been reactivated, back to normal, unaffected. It’s fucking Frankenstein.