I wavered. I bit my lip multiple times. I wandered away from the computer, but then found my hand glued to my iPhone, pressing the small, blue “f” logo with my thumb. The next 20 minutes of my snowy walk were spent swiping through people’s statuses, profile pictures and wall posts; head down, screen wet and spackled with snow. I almost got run over by a car. But, then again, this isn’t out of the norm.

Facebook addiction strikes me often. So often, in fact, that I’ve renamed it our 21st century version of the plague. Most of the time, the FB Plague will bite you at the most inopportune of moments. For example, when I have a 10-page paper to write. Or during that one physics lecture during which my professor just happens to be giving us all the answers on the upcoming exam. Instead of paying attention to the real world, Plague symptoms lash out. I find myself scrolling through statuses, keeping tabs on people’s tagged photos and events to which I wasn’t invited. And Facebook gives us permission to do what our human nature loves best: creep.

I’ll admit it: I’m a Facebook fan-girl. There’s a certain art to constructing your own online profile, to shaping a new status that informs the world: Yes, I’m alive! Yes, I’m eating spicy chicken! Yes, I’m giddy! I want you to “like” me — or a status I constructed, a photo I put up, a comment I wrote — because (I think) I am important. In a sense, I’m asking you to “like” my art. Facebook invites us to dip ourselves into other people and to also allow others to dip back into our own lives. It makes us unforgettable, popping our names on the newsfeeds of “friends,” allowing those “friends” to think of us— even for a second —when we’re online.

Arguably, our generation is a generation of Facebook users — a generation that loves to be given evidence that we’re being paid attention. We navigate our online realms with confidence that, somewhere out there, somebody is paying attention, clicking “like,” giving us red, little notifications.

Which is why Facebook also makes me anxious. Notifications — or lack there of — freak me out. With Facebook, we can shape what parts of us are paid attention to in ways that we can’t in real life. We can also (magically!) reverse our actions. Don’t like something you just typed? Delete it! Don’t “like” a photo anymore? Unlike it! But this creates an anxious mentality that makes for awkward face-to-face interaction. Say something inappropriate? LOL (literally) at the wrong time? Facebook makes for a dangerous playing field. The FB Plague tricks us into thinking we can “delete” our real-life actions, but unfortunately, it’s all a lie.

On Monday night, I deactivated my Facebook. On Tuesday night, 25 hours later, I reactivated it. In between, I had three “accidental” log-ins, when I logged onto Facebook (thereby reactivating my account) out of instinct, forgetting I didn’t exist in the social-media sphere anymore. I also took a walk to the Arb, reveling in my “new found freedom” and wriggling my new hiking boots in the mud. I was free. I could listen to (real) birds tweet live, chirpy sounds. I didn’t have to deal with the constant “10+ New Stories” tab on my screen, forcing me to look up.

But mid-walk, my phone buzzed. A friend had texted: “Hello, missy. Do you still exist?” My mouth dried itself of spit. How many people had already forgotten about me now that I had deleted my Facebook? How many people had already questioned my existence? If I wasn’t on Facebook, did that invalidate my being? After 25 hours of being Finally Facebookless, I succumbed. The FB virus was forever in my system, and no matter how hard I tried to cure myself, I almost didn’t want to entirely heal.

Here’s the hard truth: I couldn’t tear myself away from Facebook for more than a day. Time and time again, I was drawn to the “deactivate your account” button. But the Plague has sharp teeth, reminding you of the entire digital life — now, in our generation, almost a second life — you’re missing out on.

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