Don’t OD on your FB

This is an article by Amy Grimshaw.
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I’m up to my eyeballs trying to juggle essay deadlines, group meetings and shifts at the Mexican restaurant where I work. I’m tired, fed up and smell like enchiladas. I would like to catch forty winks but sleep is so 2007. To unwind, I deserve a treat. I don’t have time to see my friends and I keep missing their calls. I’ll just pop onto Facebook and see what everyone is up to…

Those famous last words.

Two hours later I am up to date with my event invites, friend requests, messages and photos, but at what expense? I’m in the university library and have done nothing on that impending essay proposal due to be handed in tomorrow.

There are other dramas that can occur from having an account, no matter how innocent your intentions.

After being asked out to lunch by a rather nice guy I had liked for a while, I was slightly disturbed by the fact he already knew my age, where I’m from and, creepily, my favourite cheese. But wait – where did he get this information? From a place where I had willingly volunteered it, my Facebook profile.

We haven’t met up since.

Putting information about your favourite dairy products online is hardly putting you at risk of a serial stalker or an identity thief. Nonetheless, it is a little unnerving when people you barely know are able to recite this information about you.

Along with strangers thinking they know you, other side effects of too much FB include the ‘I have nothing to wear’ scenario as there are already dozens of photos of you on FB in ‘that’ dress. It is like you have been papped – by your mates. For goodness sake, we are amidst a credit crunch yet we are on the look out for more extravagant outfits for the next night out in case we get ‘tagged’.

If the thought of going without checking your account for more than a day makes you break out in a cold sweat, step away from the computer. Put the mouse down.  And read on carefully.

Like any addiction, you need to decide when enough is enough and change your online habits for yourself, no one else. The combination of FB dramas, uni deadlines and never ending ‘detagging’ of unflattering pictures of my backside triggered my inner alarm bells.

Disabling my account has been so liberating, like the proverbial burning of my bra. I am no longer bound by my social calendar. I have even started reading again; remember books?

And those who are familiar with disabling your account will know that I have cut no corners by ticking the box that means I don’t even receive updates from my account via email. I am truly offline, and I am enjoying every second.

After a couple of days I started to receive text messages like, ‘A, hope ur ok. I noticed we aren’t friends on FB anymore. What did I do? T xx’ and ‘U’v blocked me? Eh?’ and ‘Have you died? Text back, S xox’.

Have I died? Why not pick up the phone and call me?

The problem with FB is that you get out of it what you put in. The more time spent viewing your mates’ profiles, uploading photos, commenting on their status and accepting invites to events means that you are inevitably going to get sucked in. The more you click the more reason you have to check your account.

If you are inspired by my tale, why not disable your account for yourself? The process is simple. Click on ‘settings’ and then ‘account settings’ then ‘deactivate account’. The FB team desperately try to keep hold of you by asking you a number of questions about why you are ending your destructive relationship.

Getting back with your account is also simple, don’t worry. All of those drunken photos of you covered in kebab meat, doing a naked conga in the fountains will still be there if you decide to return.

Until after Christmas it is back to the more traditional modes of communication for me I’m afraid. Carrier pigeon, smoke signals or simple phone calls are just fine by me.

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