So long, F@€£&*%K

The half-life of social networking?


I deleted my Facebook account 16 days ago, after reading an article about screen time and social networking addiction. I was checking my profile all the time, often sinking into a black hole of scrolling and feeling my phone buzz whether I received a message or push notification or had just imagined it. I felt overexposed, overwhelmed, and more than a little ready to foray away from my computer and out into the sunshine.

The first day I quit, I felt compelled to log into my account a total of 43 times. Occasionally, I realized I’d typed the entirety of the URL by rote — yelping and closing the browser immediately. My thumbs sought the little blue F on my smartphone out of habit, hovering over the hole where the icon used to be. The next day was only a bit better — I tallied a total of 37 compulsions to login. Day three, more improvement. No tally, less desire, several non-sleeping hours where I didn’t think of Facebook once. Just over two weeks later, I don’t need Facebook (and its little reminders that yes, I exist, and yes, people still like me) at all.

I don’t need Facebook, and Facebook probably doesn’t need me. Right? There are about 7 billion people on the planet, and about 955 million have accounts. One seventh of the world’s population has expressed some desire to put up some photos, play some Farmville, friend their dad with a limited profile, and participate in the generation of some browsing habit and personal information research for a company started by an ethically-questionable dude from Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Things for Facebook should be on the up and up. Facebook is now a noun and a verb! Those of us without Facebook run the risk of being considered weirdos, or not being hired by potential employers who distrust an unbrowseable employee! Their brand is probably more recognizable to a kid than a woodpecker or a tomato plant!

Things should be on the up and up, but they’re not. Since Facebook went public in May of this year, shares in the company have fallen 44%, from $38 to $21.20. This week, a lock-up period imposed on early investors and company directors — put in place to prevent volatility during its debut on the market — will end, freeing stockholders to offload up to 271 million shares if they want to. If only it took me two weeks to get over my Facebook break-up, and three months for company shares to decline in value by almost a half, does this mean the smurf-blue giant could be whittled down to manageable size by the end of 2013?