Life without Facebook: Is it possible?

Once upon a time, people without cell phones were considered the social pariahs of the technological age. Now it’s those without accounts who may be deemed modern-day rebels. With over 120 million active users, the popular social-networking site has attracted people with varying interests.

For students, Facebook accounts began as a convenient way to keep in touch with new friends at a level far less personal than through phone or face-to-face contact.

“Facebook was really useful during freshman and sophomore year … It’s much easier to add new friends on Facebook than asking awkwardly for their numbers,” junior Jessie Schiller said.

But Schiller recently deleted her Facebook account after realizing that she was spending less time with her friends.

“I was wasting a lot of time on [Facebook] and I wanted to force myself to actually hang out with people and call them rather than look at their Facebook profiles,” she said.

While many use the site primarily for keeping track of old friends, Schiller said she does not really miss the high-school connection that Facebook provides.

“I still keep in close contact with four [or] five friends from high school, but I just saw [looking at Facebook profiles] as a waste of time … I don’t talk to these people or see them anymore.”

Junior Teddy Minch feels that Facebook’s value lies in a completely different area. In addition to showing people’s profiles, the Web site also allows members to create groups that provide information and link members. He utilizes this application to update members and fans of his radio show with news and to publicize upcoming events.

“Facebook is a major venue, and it is free, easy to use and easily accessible,” Minch said.

The common consensus among students seems to be that Facebook’s accessibility hampers productivity. With so much class work completed on the computer, it is easy to be lured into taking an indefinite study break that includes perusing friends’ profiles.

“It is a major distraction,” freshman Elliott McCarthy said.

Schiller agrees and believes that since she deleted her account, she has been more efficient.

“I sit [at my computer] and have to do work because I can’t go on Facebook,” she said.

One of Schiller’s main complaints with social networking sites is that they can obscure the larger need to work on maintaining physical rather than virtual ties. She feels this is especially true for people who have a large number of friends on such sites but are close with relatively few of them.

“Social networking sites create weak ties in terms of meeting new people and building a community. Facebook is useful in getting that community started, but it takes away from that community in furthering those relationships,” Schiller said.

On how her friends reacted to her sudden departure from the online social networking world, Schiller believes that nothing has really changed.

“I was the friend with all the pictures, so that’s been the number-one complaint,” she said. “But other than that, nobody has really said anything.”