I think I live a perfectly healthy life with Facebook. Why should I participate?
We don't preclude the very real possibility that Facebook is a good thing for society. But even if it is a good thing, it still may qualitatively change social interactions. These changes are what we seek to discover and describe.The success of Mass Deactivation largely depends on high participation. That's why we encourage everyone to participate, even if you think Facebook enhances your life.
Why only Facebook? Why not email, texts, skype, etc.?
While it is true that Facebook is not the only form of technology that affects social interactions, we believe that it is uniquely important and salient in society, especially with college-aged people. For example, many of us have "met" people through Facebook, had relationships on Facebook, and even developed crushes on people solely through Facebook. These are all things that are not usually associated with other forms of technology like email or texting. And yes it is true that there are other social networks (Google Plus, Myspace) but none as popular as Facebook. And while the discussion may start with Facebook, our hope is that the dialogue can grow to include technology in general.
Why one month?
To some, one month might seem like way too long to go without Facebook. But we believe that a month is truly necessary to get used to living in a community without Facebook. Obviously, we are working on the honor system here, but we strongly encourage participants to try to stick it out for the entire month. Consider the fact that this month may be the last time for the rest of your life that you are surrounded by people without a Facebook account. A month in that context doesn't seem that long.
What if I don't want to completely lose touch with my friends and family?
While it is true that Facebook is a useful tool for keeping in touch with people, there are definitely alternatives. Email, skype, and even old-fashioned telephones would work just as well. Furthermore, the idea that Facebook is simply a means of communication is not true. Yes, communication through messages and wall posts is a part of Facebook, but can looking at photographs of someone, for example, be considered merely "keeping in touch?"
Why a "mass" deactivation?
I'm sure some of you know people who have already deactivated their accounts for various reasons. While those people may not be directly linked into Facebook, they still exist in a community that is saturated by Facebook. Determining Facebook's effects upon society as a whole requires collective action.
Bowdoin is a small, tight-knit community made up of smart, socially-aware individuals. This is the ideal place for this type of experiment. If Facebook really does change social interactions, and if enough people deactivate their accounts, it would be nearly impossible to not detect differences in everyday life.