Life Unofficially: Getting By Without Facebook

February 27, 2008
By Jeff Zalesin, Briarcliff Manor, NY

At my high school, I have no friends. I identify with no particular hobbies or interests, and my birthday never comes. Quite simply, I do not exist. While these statements are thankfully untrue, they might easily be inferred from my one great social failing: a full year into my high school experience, I remain absent from Facebook.

Facebook, of course, has become as essential as cell phones and email as a means of interaction between college and, more recently, high school students. Think of Facebook as a sort of governing body among youths of a certain age; the information contained within the network is to be considered definitive. Thus, to accept a friend request through Facebook is to validate a real-life friendship, while a Facebook “poke” or “hug” is akin to the physical action. Indeed, to sign up for Facebook is to register one’s existence.

As I know firsthand, unofficial existence as a high school student can be a trying endeavor. Attaining a classmate’s birthday might require an actual conversation, and planning an event entails individual emails or (God forbid) phone calls to invitees. And in the brief few years since “Facebook” joined the ranks of “Tivo” and “Google” as a grammatically confused verb, each meeting with an amiable new acquaintance has inevitably concluded with, “Hey! I’ll Facebook you.” Forced to explain that I am unFacebookable, I usually justify my abstinence by saying that “I like my freedom.”

Indeed, to my naïve eyes, it looks as though Facebook can be as much of a burden as it is a savior. Imagine the possible consequences of leaving one’s Facebook unattended for a week: You could miss a friend’s birthday. You could brutally (though inadvertently) ignore a friend request from a new real-life friend. You could miss out on the inside joke of the century. “Sometimes people might have a party or an event in which the main way to alert people is through Facebook invitations,” says Facebook enthusiast Chloe Effron, “and then people don't hear about it until much later, if they don't check.” For one with Facebook, such failings are inexcusable. Tending to a Facebook profile has become a daily responsibility in the life of a typical teen; one I have, thus far, refused to accept.

Like the cell phone and the computer, a Facebook profile may soon be too commonplace to live without. Then, stubborn holdouts like me will have no choice but to put aside their grudges and take a place on digital society’s bandwagon. If I do choose to pull myself out of the Dark Ages and join the legions of teen Facebook dwellers, my decision will be influenced by one indelible memory. On the last day of my teen tour this summer, I watched two of my friends say their final farewell. Caught in a teary embrace, one whispered to the other, “Get a Facebook.”

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This article has 1 comment.

Rock said...
on Feb. 11 2011 at 12:29 pm
most people from middle schools are on facebook so wow

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