When I first announced my plan to take a month long break from Facebook I was met with shock, dismay and many comments that summed up to: "Oh I could never." It was both more and less difficult than I imagined in would be.
One month is a long time and with a social calendar like mine Facebook is a convenient tool for keeping track of events. I found myself becoming anxious or annoyed when I had to text someone to find out the time or location of an event that I'd seen before I began my Facebook sabbatical, but hadn't written down the information for. It was even more frustrating to fnd out that I'd missed an event that I would have gone to because Facebook was the only vehicle used for inviting people to it.
My work days took a lot longer without Facebook. I always get all of my work done, often finishing it early, and Facebook was always a welcome distraction from the project-less minutes ticking by. Especially because I have an ongoing conversation with several long distance friends.
The nice thing about the lack of Facebook was realizing who I really care enough about to contact directly - and who really cares about me. Facebook makes social interaction so effortless and easy that we can forget how nice it is to call up a friend and ask them how they're doing and what they're up to. Suddenly my phone took on a whole new level of importance for me. I texted and called my friends and family more in January than I've done in months.
What surprised me on my return to Facebook was the amount of people who obviously hadn't realized I wasn't there to receive their messages, event invitations or (most baffling) wall posts. I thought I had done a pretty good job of making it clear that I wasn't around: I posted a status, uploaded my new cover and profile picture and even wrote a short blurb as a tagline to my profile picture that people could read if they were unclear as to what the picture meant.
Facebook allows us fleeting and shallow friendships, it's knowledge without interaction. I can see what my friends are doing, where they are, who they were with last night, without exchanging a single word. Of course it's nice to see that with some of my friends, friends with whom I probably would no longer have any interaction with if it wasn't for Facebook because they have moved away or our schedules are just too different. But for my closest friends, the people I consider my best friends, this past month has taught me that I want to put more effort into our friendships. I want to know what they're thinking that's not posted in their status. Where they were when they weren't checking in. What was happening when there wasn't a camera.
While a wonderful tool for social interaction between acquaintences and distant friends, Facebook is a sorry substitute for interactions with a truly close friend.