Few holidays generate as interesting a Facebook News Feed as Halloween. Beyond Halloween party invitations and status updates, there is the wide variety of fascinating photos — groups of friends costumed, posed and in character, the odd baby-dressed-as-a-pumpkin photo and of course, the documentation of drunk and scantily-clad Fraternity Quad mayhem.

For a frequent Facebook user, such as myself, this was a little too much to handle. My Sunday afternoon, which should have been spent studying, was punctuated by the perusal of many, many Facebook albums — if you are reading this, I probably saw your costume. By the end of the day, my eyes burning from the glow of the computer screen, I had a grand realization: It may be time to get rid of my Facebook account.

That very night, I deactivated my Facebook. Now, a couple days later and itching to get back on the site, I am weighing the pros and cons of social media. My list of Facebook’s negative attributes is quite extensive.

Most obviously, it is a waste of time. Next time you are in Rush Rhees Library, take a look at the computer screens around you — chances are somebody is on Facebook. A quick, distracted break from writing a paper can lead to clicking through all one thousand of your own photos, or reading an entire chain of messages with your best friend or perhaps clicking through enough profiles that you wind up stalking your eighth grade lab partner’s older sister’s wedding album (we’ve all done it).

Beyond this obvious detriment to one’s schoolwork, Facebook can have a variety of negative social effects. For example, my own informal observations have led me to believe that facebook is of no help to those who have recently broken up with someone. The opportunity to follow your ex’s every move seems irresistible to most people, and creepy options such as the new “see friendship” feature allow unnecessary nostalgic trips down memory lane through photos together, past conversations and even events attended together. Essentially, it leaves intact bonds that should have long ago been broken.

For those self-controlled people who do not stalk their exes or waste homework time reading Wall-to-Walls, there still remains the fact that Facebook absolutely invites an invasion of privacy. Just last week I witnessed three male friends of mine (who shall remain nameless) scroll through a list of friends searching for the hottest girls and occasionally finding bikini photos as proof of said hotness. You never know who is looking at your photos — even if you have strict privacy settings, having 500 or so Facebook “friends” doesn’t mean any real amount of privacy.

Considering all of these drawbacks to the site, deactivating should have been no problem for me. But now, after only a couple days without my Facebook account, I wonder if it is such an essential part of modern communication that living without one is impossible. For example, I want to have a party at my apartment next week and I cannot come up with any viable method of inviting people besides through Facebook.

Additionally, I think of all the friends I have scattered across the country and world — high school friends attending far-away colleges, friends studying abroad, friends I made during my own semester abroad — and wonder if it is truly possible to stay in touch with them without the aid of Facebook. It seems logical that without social networking, these connections would only fade with time.

Whether one uses Facebook or does not, its effect on productivity, connectivity and real-life relationships is something worth pondering. Facebook is making an impact on the way we live our lives — whether this is positive or negative still remains to be seen.



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