I just spent the last 24 hours intentionally without access to Facebook. What struck me was not that I missed it as in fact I did not and to be honest there was a bit of relief that washed over me as I walked away from my computer after disabling my account in protest to SOPA. No, what struck me was how many times I, as a matter of habit, considered opening a Facebook tab during the course of my day. Please don’t confuse this as missing it. Understand it instead as how habitual my use has become that it was just second nature to want to act on this subconscious thought of “I have a moment to spare, so I should fill it with something.” The happy thing was that I easily filled those moments with something else without too much effort or thought.
Overall I was just surprised at how often the thought of visiting Facebook occurred to me. I remember just 5 years ago when it was Livejournal that filled up my pauses in work or school. Over 10 years ago it was a local message board for a club that kept me refreshing Netscape every five minutes as drama exploded online. What about 15 years ago? Well then it would have been my first college issued email account (yes, I’ve been in school a long time!) or my first Hotmail account. Two decades ago I was in high school and I filled all of my spare moments with a book. There was even a joke made about this at my senior assembly where a picture was taken of a woman at a mall reading a book and that was supposed to have been me 10 years later. (Instead it ended up being me on my Palm Treo 300. I like to think I invented mobile Googling to solve arguments almost 10 years ago. But, I digress….)
I suppose the point I am trying to make here is that no, it wasn’t that I missed Facebook itself. Rather, I realized that as of late I have been using Facebook as an escape that 20 years ago was reserved for mystery novels and fantasy books. I believe the reason for this is not that I value Facebook over my books of times past. Instead, it’s that I have so little in between time these days that I fill it with a brain snacks instead of a healthy meal. That said, with work and my PhD classwork I get plenty of high quality brain food. I guess what this all boils down to is that I just miss the brain snacks that were both filling and tasted good.