Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

Summary: I'm pulling the plug on social media for a week. Changing passwords, logging out of accounts and walking away. But why?


My friends know full well that I have an addictive personality.

I smoke far too much, though granted as a student I don't drink enough. But I work 'too much' according to my friends and family, though I naturally argue otherwise. And I drink in excess of fifteen cups of coffee a day.

Instead of giving up Charlie Sheen for Lent, because as a prolific atheist I cannot think of anything more offensive to my own non-existent belief system than to give up something for a lifestyle choice I do not prescribe to, I thought I'd give something else a go.

Social media, social networking, and pretty much anything relating to online socialisation. Well, screw you. Screw you for a week. I don't need you in my life.

Or, rather that is what I'm telling myself. It was either give something up, or just simply give up.

Unlike the vast majority of people who give up something either for Lent or simply to prove a point, I am not doing it to prove a point, nor am I doing it 'just because it's purposefully difficult to do'.

No. I'd like to show that Facebook, Twitter and other social media and networking sites are not the be all and end all of the Generation Y, and this 'innate need' to be plugged into the social matrix is nothing short of a fallacy.

Plus, it's essay season and could really do without a constant social barrage of nonsensical drivel pounding my mind like a slow moving tram.

The younger ones have been given a bad rap as of late. Facebook this, Twitter that, text messaging and the death of the phone call - we've all seen it. Some of us even wrote about it. But we are not addicted in the way that the older generation thinks.

OK, so I am trying to prove a point.

Sociologically, one of the greatest underlying fears for most is social exclusion; being detached from our social norms and friendship groups, and plunging into a state of solitary isolation.

It is terrifying. Nobody wants to be truly alone in this world, even if some of us, like myself, who enjoy their own company just a little bit too much.

If the Internet is a human right, and the debates are still ongoing, is it the abstract notion of a worldwide interconnected system of computers that is crucial to our living, or is it more specifically the access to the websites and online pages that we hold dear to our being?

The point is, while we have social media to access information, news, brands and our friendships, a world still exists outside the realms of our insular pockets of our online social groups. It is those we need to remember, and build upon, rather than relying on an infrastructure to maintain them.

But also, by disconnecting entirely from Facebook as one part of this mission, it will allow me to broadly see how the world runs without the network plugging itself at any given moment during the average working day.

If I can replace social media with real-world social interaction, then all the better. But I am expecting to find that social networking enhances, rather than replaces social interaction.

But we will see. The lessons will be learned when I turn my accounts back on after a week. Only then can I adequately judge.

How this is going to work

I have changed my account passwords to an alphanumeric random burst of characters, copied down on a piece of paper and handed to an arbitrary friend - just in case. Clipboard is clear, my BlackBerry is logged out of all social media services, and my cookies have been wiped.

Basically, I'm back in 1999 at the age of eleven. Instant messaging was around, and so was email. These will be the only forms of communication I can communicate with. Mobile phones were still in their modern infancy, but text messages and phone calls are permitted.

At the end of the week, I will tally up the things that I've missed within my social circles, including events and inside jokes. I'll also consider the social aspects, including documenting how

And all of this will be described in a diary-like format, published this time next week on Tuesday.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Gen Y is LAME

    Why does generation Y even matter anymore?? I'm part of GENERATION TGIF: Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook... and no you can't join Whittaker you're too old..
    • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

      @Hasam1991 The Garbled Infantile Fools
    • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

      I didn't realize any of those web services had an age limit; not to mention a snot-nosed kid requirement
      • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

        Kids use WP7 phones, that's why they have giant icons... I mentioned iPhone.
  • It's a start...

    why just a week? Why not a lifetime of drivel-free enjoyment
    • Yup


      I have never been there and probably never will. As a matter of fact, I am losing interest in this site also. Despite the odd very good blog and at times excellent talkbacks, the nauseating fan boy arguments are getting just too tedious. The signal to noise ratio is well below 10%.

      Too bad
      • Do you mean Zack's Blog or ZDNet in general?


        As much as I abhor a self dose of humility, we are, after all, only the "peanut gallery" to ZDNet's bloggers. In my experience, its so much easier to pen a comment than a periodical blog article so I have to, because of professional courtesy, cut Zack and all the other ZDNet bloggers a considerable amount of slack and respect even their mediocre efforts. (BTW, I will never tire of reading your comments, Economister. They are as opinionated as mine but at least our comments are based upon fact and experience.)
      • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

        @Economister In terms of the comments, I can understand and empathise. The fanboy stuff does need to stop, and frankly it grates me too.
  • Half way there

    You need to take it to the second step. <br><br>Remove anything that tempts you to a quick reply. <br>Drop IM. Check your email no more that twice a day. Put the phones on mute and check voice mail when you check email. <br>Set a coffee break with friends at your favorite coffee shop for late afternoon, but set it up at least six hours in advance. Concentrate on the essay. Get a mental flow established with no chance of interruption. <br><br>Once you get the hang of it you may be able to cut back to ten cups a day. Your heart will appreciate that.
  • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

    Good job. Once you're out, you have no reason to go back. Once I killed my Facebook, I felt way more productive.
  • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

    I quit Facebook about 6 months ago and never had a twitter account or any of the other social networking sites. It isn't as easy, especially if you have something you want to tell several people at once without directly messaging them, but I think it this actually makes my friendships stronger and family closer because its way too easy to get lost in the social information overload. Directly communicating with other people has a longer lasting impact.
  • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

    For economic reasons I killed off Internet access at home entirely. It is amazing how much communication has been shifted to the Internet/web. Radio stations are now saying "For a complete list of school closings see our website," and nearly every add has some www reference.

    I understand how the Internet have-nots are being left behind in this society.
  • Good Article

    Way to put yourself out there! There is one truism for the ages: FIGHT THE POWER!
  • Read those messages!!!

    Good response on all fronts...seems like many are saying who needs it! Power to the people...not the virtual people!
  • FacePLANT is doomed... heard it here first kids.
  • Good Luck, Zach

    I'll be praying for you! ;)
  • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

    Commendable as your effort is, you may want to rethink the premise on which you have begun this experiment. Getting off social networking sites is one thing - getting off the Grid - especially in the developed Western and Far Eastern Worlds is quite another. By "the Grid" I mean, the computer/ information networks on which the banking, transportation, logistics, security, utility etc. systems work. I think you will find that you are underestimating the degree of immersion that most of us are currently experiencing. These social networking sites are, in a manner of speaking, epi-phenomena to a much more radical, but subtle, net-centric world that we are creating and increasingly inhabiting.

    I think - of course, I could be wrong - that one of the critical issues involved in this admittedly interesting experiment of yours is whether or not you are able to (1) conceptualize yourself being a critical co-constituent (but only a co-constituent) of the world of machines and networks that you are currently embedded in and, (2) as a consequence of which, if you are able to shed - at least to some discernable degree - the anthropocentrism that more often than not afflicts experiments like yours.

    What I suspect is the case is that you are representative of a fast dying species - the Human - whereas what you are messing around with are aspects of a yet dimly understood world - that of the post-human.

    Disclaimer: Much of the above is tongue-in-cheek!
  • RE: Killing off Facebook: Facing essays and social exclusion head on

    enjoy the peace and quiet. i love not having facebook. virtually nobody I know is on Twitter, i use my account there as an RSS-feed of sorts; keeping up on tech news and happenings and forwarding/"tweeting" about interesting things i find in the industry. Far less of a social thing to me.
  • Regarding my favorite young prolific atheist that uses religious metaphores

    Since the topic of Lent was brought up, I recall a story heard on numerous Sunday sermons about a certain individual's 40 days of desert isolation. At one time or another everyone requires a period of isolation in order to grow, as he did. (The longer the isolation period, the more important you are .. grin! I'm delighted to know that you only chose 7 days for your isolation. That shows a nice touch of humility.)

    The trick to remember, however, is that being isolated (or giving up something) accomplishes nothing, in and of itself. Even prolific atheists having non-existent belief systems can accept that belief.

    Facebook and Twitter are part of your generation's lifestyle, Zack. The only way to eliminate those social interactions is for another technology to render these social networks obsolete. (For example, horse assisted transportation was supplanted by mechanical means.) My advice is not to abandon those social interaction tools for any extended period of time. At least until something better comes along.

    I confess to some curiosity over what you will discover about the world you live in during those seven days. May they prove fruitful.