BY ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor
From late middle school to early high school, I was quite the angst-ridden teenager individual – a fact my deep poems about my broken heart from the boyfriend I never had will clearly demonstrate.
Luckily for me, the only place that saw the true depth of my tortured teenage soul was my secret green notebook that had “Poems of a Depressed Teenager” written on the front (I am a hundred percent serious). I was not allowed to have a MySpace or a Facebook account, any social media or LiveJournal profile, until the summer before my senior year of high school. Although I thought this was horribly unfair at the time, now I am rather thankful for that parental decision on my part. My parents told me it was for my own safety online, and in a way I believe it was. I am now saved from the resurfacing of these angsty posts whenever I look at my Facebook timeline.
By the time my parents gave me the go-ahead to exist on social media, MySpace had become irrelevant. No one was worried about who’s Top 8 they were in anymore, and everyone was sick of listening to the same song over and over as they scrolled your page. For me, finally being a part of the Facebook community at age seventeen (although I had secretly been on and off there since I was fifteen…) was exciting. I felt like I was finally in the loop. FINALLY, friends could tag me in photos to prove that yes, I do hang out with them! I do have school spirit! I was at that party! I accrued friends like they were chocolate chip cookies, and I was a very hungry caterpillar.
Throughout the remaining year of my short jaunt through secondary education, Facebook continued to play a huge role in my social life. The first thing I did when I got home from school every day, and when I got home from work, and when I woke up, and before I went to bed was…you guessed it. I updated my status frequently. I posted all the pictures I took at football games, Halloween parties, drama club shows, random adventures with my friends. I tagged myself in every photo I was in. Whenever someone had a birthday, I was sure to write a personal message on their wall, even if I didn’t really know them. My profile was set to private, but to those who were in my circle my life was pretty public.
I still had guidelines I set for myself, though. No swearing on Facebook. No posting inappropriate pictures. No posting when my family was on vacation and the house was empty. Just easy-to-follow rules that would keep my profile classy and not get me into trouble in the long run.
Then I entered college. For someone who chose to go to a school where I literally knew no one, Facebook was one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with people I went to high school with. And as I got involved my freshman year, I could add my new friends and start communicating with them off campus. But it was freshman year that things really started to change. As nearly all my friends from high school went away to school, and I stayed home and commuted, I began to spend more time with my close friends whom I worked with. They were all older, in their early 20’s at the time. They had Facebooks, but they rarely posted anything. And when they did, it was usually significant. The same went for some of the new friends I made here on campus that were upperclassmen. I subconsciously took notice of this, and slowly began to alter my ways.
Coincidentally, it was around this time that several studies came out about how employers would not hire certain applicants based on their social media profiles.
The summer before my sophomore year of college, I spent hours “cleaning” my Facebook profile. I was doing an internship at the time, and I realized that even though my profile was pretty unsoiled so to speak, it could be a lot better. I went through all my pictures, untagging some, deleting even more. Some things I deleted were just silly, but others were, to me at least, questionable. I just didn’t want to take a chance.Adios, photos of me dancing in my pajamas.
When it came down to it, I stopped caring about what people my age thought about me. I started caring about how people who were older than me perceived me. Currently, I am friends with high school teachers, people I have interned for, or babysit for, or worked on a dig with. Even some of my professors are on Facebook. These are people who are important to me, and whose opinions I value much higher than that chick I had that one class with junior year – what was her name again? And, as far as my personal reputation is concerned, I didn’t want myself portrayed as someone I am not.
And then there were all the people who were classified as my “friends.” As almost anyone who has graduated high school can tell you, there are very few people who you keep in contact with from those oh-so-formative years. Why was I still connected to them on Facebook when I was never going to see them again, and didn’t really want to either?
Last year, as a studying game for Fall finals, I deleted someone from my Facebook for every physics problem question I got right. I did this until only the people I would call my friend in real life were left. Within a few hours, I had eradicated over 150 people.
So where am I going with this column?
Facebook and I, we’re just not on the same page any longer. I utilize the website in a completely different way than I used to. When I first started using social media it was all about me and how other people thought about me, or how I wanted them to think about me. Now, it’s more about staying in touch with those people, not so much about me and my life. Finally, I got the “networking” part of “social networking”. Facebook is now just another way to communicate with people in my life, rather than being a way for me to showcase myself as someone I wanted to be.
I grew up. And as I grew up, I grew out of Facebook.
And so, it was nice while it lasted Facebook, darling, but you are just not a priority any more.