News Archive 2009-2018

It’s Over! Grace Cheung ’12 Reflects on Month-Long Facebook Mass Deactivation Project Archives

Grace Cheung '12



One month, no Facebook. That was the deal proposed by Tyler Patton ’12 and Ruiqi Tang ’13, whose 30-Day Facebook Mass Deactivation Project landed them on a local morning news program.

Now that it’s over, Grace Cheung ’12 reflects on how it went and what motivated her to participate.

When I first heard about the mass deactivation of Facebook at Bowdoin, it was via e-mail from my friend Tyler over winter break. At first I thought, “Why bother doing this if I’m just going to reactivate it anyway?” But then I thought, “OK, maybe I am a little too addicted to stalking my friends’ photos and playing Words with Friends.”

My problem is that I very easily get addicted to things-just ask my roommates during sophomore year who had to deal with me playing Bejeweled Blitz for three hours each day after my classes ended. I think what convinced me in Tyler’s e-mail was this:

With Facebook, no one quite knows what the effects on our community are. Is it turning our lives into meaningless digital parodies of themselves? Probably not. Is it making our relationships less intimate and less meaningful by providing a disincentive to interact with people face to face? Maybe. Is it qualitatively changing what it means to be a social human being? This seems very likely to me. As the last generation to know a world that existed without parallel online worlds, I think it’s our responsibility to start asking these questions.

That last line with the words, “The last generation,” gives it a doomsday appeal that immediately caught my attention. Our generation is all about social media-Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, even Google+, though not as much as the others, but it is still there-so it’s hard to imagine living without our laptops or smartphones.

As college students and as teenagers, it’s also the easiest way to communicate with others-a quick post on someone’s wall or a mass invite for a party to your 500+ friends. It also, unfortunately, is a great tool for procrastination. I know at least half, if not all, of you reading this right now have gone on Facebook even when you had a final paper due that you weren’t even close to finishing (and if you’re shaking your head no, you are a terrible liar). When I was bored, the automatic reflex was to go on Facebook for hours upon hours of pointless profile hopping.

So what was a month of mass deactivation like for a Bowdoin senior who has had Facebook since her freshman year of high school? Honestly, it was not that bad. Without it, I had a lot more time during the day-even though I ended up spending that time procrastinating on StumbleUpon or on my Tumblr, but it was nice that I found other things to do rather than click through a friend’s photo album or attempt to play a word that hit the triple word block on Words with Friends.

Trust me, the desire to go on the website was still there-especially when a name I didn’t know was mentioned in conversation, but, with confidence, I can say that I have lived and can live without Facebook. I learned that your friends, or at least the ones that want to talk to you, will find a way to do it whether it’s on the phone, through e-mail or in person.