Deactivated: College Students Giving up Facebook…By Choice

By Courtney Crowder

Apr 26, 2010 9:48am

ABC News on Campus reporter Lauren McGaha blogs: You hear it all the time. Social media is the fastest growing technology connecting you to the rest of the world. And if you’re a college student, you know how popular it is. How many people do you know who don’t have a Facebook page? Be honest. How often do you sit through your 90-minute lecture class without updating a status or checking out photos from last Thursday night? Well, it turns out some college students are done with the constant barrage of Facebook e-mails, friend requests and Farmville updates. And no longer do they need learn who is dating and which couples are over via relationship-status newsfeeds. Yes. In a world where everyone has one . . .  they have deactivated. 
   
One such student is Eric Feld, a graduate student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He deactivated his Facebook page in January.
   
“Believe it or not, life is just fine without Facebook,” Feld said. “I have noticed that I have become more productive, and I feel like I am performing better with my classwork.”
   
Feld says Facebook was one of the biggest distractions from school. But that’s not the only reason he decided to stop using the site.
   
“In total, I had maybe 1,000 friends,” he said. “Like everyone else I know, my friend list also had a ton of random people that I'd met maybe one time, people who were friends of an old girlfriend, or that just happened to have the same name as me. No offense to any of them, they just weren't worth the distraction.  I realized that the people I'm really close to already know more about me than I can even list on Facebook.”
   
Sadie Cooke, a junior business major at Clemson University, decided to give up her Facebook account last June after realizing it was the biggest distraction in her life.
   
“I was consumed with it,” Cooke said.  “I checked it too many times every day, to the point where I would lose count.”
   
Cooke says she spent hours on Facebook before deactivating her account, checking it nearly every time she was near a computer. Now she works on cultivating more personal relationships.
   
“All I really knew about people was what they decided to present on Facebook,” Cooke said.  “Rather than calling someone or spending some quality time with a person, I would just write on their wall. Now, I have a lot more time to be intentional about my relationships with other people.”
   
But giving up Facebook isn’t as easy as these students make it seem. In fact, Feld says he felt quite a backlash from his friends at first.
   
“When I told them that I was deactivating, they treated me like I was committing some sort of heinous crime,” Feld said.  “I had at least three friends lobby strongly for me to stay on by offering to take my account password and change it just so that I wouldn't deactivate. Even my mom was upset, because she said that she was going to miss getting to see me every day!”
   
Cooke also had to face her friends about the decision.
   
“They were not very happy and didn't really understand why I did it,” she said.  “I lost touch with certain friends, which showed the depth in those relationships.”
   
For Feld, it’s been nearly five months. But he says he’s happy with his decision.
   
“Honestly, I don't really miss it,” he said.  “Looking back, there was nothing really exciting about Facebook to begin with – nothing more exciting than maintaining meaningful communication in real life at least.  I really feel good knowing that a website isn't a major part of my life and my day-to-day routine.”

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