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Editorials and Opinions

Taking a break from notifications

By Sarah Pincus
Published: December 2009

About a year ago, I deleted my Facebook account in an attempt to stop wasting time on the computer. I figured that if I didn’t have the continuous self-discipline to monitor the amount of time I wasted on it, I ought to at least summon the minimal discipline to delete my account.

Of course, this didn’t work. My drive to put off my homework is as strong as ever, and I’m just as resourceful as I was in terms of finding tools with which to procrastinate. Thus, the time once spent looking at photos is now put to use watching Hulu videos, obsessively e-mailing friends, and listening to ‚ÄúThis American Life.

I kind of knew all along that deleting my Facebook wouldn’t really make me any more productive. However, what I didn’t anticipate was how really enjoyable it would be. I had thought that I would feel as if I were missing out on a lot by deleting my account, but that hasn’t been true at all.

Though I’m sure I’m missing plenty of photo albums and status updates, I don’t feel any less connected with my friends. The important stuff gets to me by other means, and normally, it’s just as fast as it would have been online. In hindsight, that’s a pretty obvious outcome, but it can be hard to remember that when your life is consumed by wall posts.

The great thing about Facebook, as it turns out, is also what it’s so nice to get a break from. It constantly refreshes itself with new gossip in tiny sound bytes, mixed with pictures and videos, which is exhilarating and fun. Everything is instantly gratifying and anonymous. It seems like the perfect escape from homework, school, and responsibility in general.

What I was surprised to find, though, was that it can also be a blessing to remove oneself from everything. It’s been nice for me to be able to go home and cut myself off a bit so that there’s some mental separation between school and home. I love the pace of school, and the same goes for Facebook, but it’s nice to have some contrast.

And it’s not as though I cut myself off from all other people when I go home. I can still call and text friends, send emails, and hang out with people. But it’s been refreshing to separate these spheres of my life.

I’m not saying that everyone should rush out and delete their Facebooks. Facebook is a tool that can be very effective for procrastinating, communicating with friends, finding out what your English assignment was, and a whole host of other things. In fact, I will probably get a new account at the end of the year to keep in touch with high school friends when I go to college.

It’s been nice to realize, though, that it’s just one tool of many. I like knowing that I can change the pace a little, direct my attention to something else, or just disconnect myself from constant interaction for an afternoon.

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