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Some Students Have Begun To Sign Off Of Facebook For Good

Published: Monday, October 26, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

Despite the increasing number of users joining Facebook, some current users have become wary of the site's intrusive nature and the amount of time that they perceive to be "wasted" on it. For these reasons, a small but noticeable group has been deleting and deactivating their Facebooks.

The greatest cause for profile deactivation has been the growing perception of Facebook as a distraction. "I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook," said Sean Logue, A&S '10. " I love how that it helps me keep in touch with friends, particularly those with whom I have little other contact, but I hate what a time-suck in can be. I easily waste a few hours a week browsing the useless information my friends post to their profiles."

While many say they enjoy the social components of Facebook and ability to communicate with friends, they also point to Facebook as an interference with work. "I am among the many people who have deactivated their accounts at one time or another," Logue said. "A couple of weeks ago, when I was really swamped with work and job applications, Facebook became a distraction that I could no longer afford."

Seung-A 'Annie' Jin, a professor in the communication department, said that Facebook can cause "privacy concerns and deception in online, computer-mediated interpersonal communication." Accordingly, several students have cited the in-depth access into people's personal lives that Facebook gives to others as a turn off of the site.

"Once a friend of a friend who I barely knew found my phone number through a Facebook group and called me," Liying Zhao, LSOE '13, said. "I was disturbed by the fact that someone I barely knew had access to such information."

"The danger, in my mind, is that it lends itself to over-sharing," Logue said. "Your boss does not need to know you got wasted last weekend any more than the rest of us need to know that you're going to the bathroom. Some people just don't know what to keep to themselves."

A few students have noted a loss of interest in the site as a reason for deactivating their profiles. "After the first few months, the novelty of Facebook wore off," Zhao said. "It felt kind of pointless so I deactivated my Facebook for a while. Now I use it strictly to talk to friends."

Jin said that the isolation factor involved with social networking sites also plays a role in the changing face of interpersonal communications. Facebook users have more control over how they appear to others than they would in face-to-face interaction, she said.

"Individuals' positive and desirable impressions are especially important in the early stages of relationships since impressions in these stages may affect future interactions," Jin said, "Thus, with enhanced ability to control and monitor impressions what [Facebook] users want to convey can be easily transformed into more intentional and deliberate self-disclosure."

However, a large majority of Boston College students still use Facebook as a social network. "Previous research has demonstrated that intensive use of online social networking sites among United States college students has been found to be significantly associated with bridging and bonding social capital," Jin said.

"I think the greatest benefit of Facebook is that it enables me to contact lots of people at one through a mass-message, event invitation, status update, etc.," Logue said, "It consolidates all of the people I know into once place and now even allows you to separate them into groups, and, if you need to plan a party or event, Facebook offers free and easy advertising."

In addition, researchers found that students active in social networking sites such as Facebook reported higher satisfaction levels with life in college and felt more engaged with the college community, Jin said.

For the time being, the ability to keep in touch and communicate with friends remains the most popular use of Facebook among BC students. "A time may come when I delete Facebook altogether, as it could present a problem with my job," Logue said. "For now, though, I'm content using Facebook to contact lots of people at once, stay in touch with friends, and occasionally post pictures and updates on my life."

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