Facebook is probably one of the most used social media sites in the entire world. I mean, anytime relatives are on Facebook – including some grandparents – and more active than I am, I’m sure that’s indicative of it’s transition from a social networking site for college students to a site where you can connect with the one person who borrowed your pencil in second grade.

Something about Facebook always felt really shallow to me, to be honest. While I’ve used it and currently still do, there is something quite shallow and slightly narcissistic about it. Think about it. We often use Facebook to share our highs, post our favorite photographs from vacation and connect with old friends. But when you think about it, if we’re not careful, Facebook can very quickly become a place where we often feel the temptation to covet and envy – especially when someone else is gloating about something they we ourselves want.

Story Time: That One Time Facebook Reactivated My Account Without My Consent Click To Tweet
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Honestly, that was one of the reasons why I deactivated my first Facebook profile in 2012. Part of it was motivated in the fact that I felt consumed by Facebook. I overshared and felt compelled to post pictures I otherwise wouldn’t – taking an excessive amount of selfies. I’d post song lyrics and share whatever I felt like sharing, not really realizing the consequences of my words when I’d say things like, “I’m really sad” or other melodramatic posts that most people did not care about.

I’d share personal thoughts forgetting that most of the people on my friends list really didn’t care and simply were friends with me to have something to gossip about over their cups of coffee. They were friends with me simply to spy on me and see what I was doing after all of this years.

Granted I wasn’t doing very well. On Facebook, it’s very easy to put up a facade and I had become really good at appearing I was content, loving life, and sure of myself. In reality, I was insecure, very unhappy, and battling suicidal thoughts. Yet you would never be able to tell from my silly photographs, photos that I was tagged in, and the fact that I rarely had a weekend where I wasn’t doing something. I was miserable, but no one could see it.

After an event occurred that left me questioning everything, I deleted my account and decided to stay away from it for an indefinite amount of time. I left my leadership role in a university group. At that point in my life, Facebook just wasn’t healthy for me and to keep myself from posting something I’d regret, I left. It was a reflection of my shallow projection of happiness to mask the sadness I was truly feeling on that social media site. I just didn’t feel emotionally safe and I was tired of allowing people that really didn’t care about me, my emotional health or anything else about my life to have direct access to the event in it. I didn’t want people having access to those personal parts of me anymore. I figured if anyone cared, they had my number and would keep in touch.

So I deactivated it and in those years that I wasn’t on Facebook, I had never felt freer. I was more in tune with my emotional health, I hung out with peers more and felt more present. I didn’t compare my life to anyone and I began to slowly feel less raw and more grounded in who I was.

In my time away from Facebook, I started going out on dates, met and began seeing my now husband, and later, I officially became a born again Christian. I found a wonderful church that I now call home and began to try to live out my faith more. Good things were happening. I was finally at a place where I could say that I was happy.

While yes, it says that you can reactivate if you change your mind and I was aware that they’d probably hold onto in my information for a while, I thought that the choice to reactivate – if I chose to – would always be mine. I thought that this profile that I hadn’t used for over four years and held so many negative memories for me, would exist no more.

I thought that the choice to reactivate - if I chose to - would always be mine. Click To Tweet
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About a year or more into my relationship with my now husband, I created a new one. I decided that I would get back on Facebook for the sole purpose of interacting with peers and sharing my faith. I wasn’t going to get wrapped up in feeling the pressure to post or make “compelling” Facebook statuses. I wasn’t going to allow myself to feel forced to publicly speak out on social media about things I would rather be actively doing something to change in private. I wasn’t going to feel pressured to broadcast every emotion, every thought, every moment on social media like I used to. This profile is way more of a reflection of who I am now and the work God has been doing in my life.

Not too long ago as I was browsing on a friend’s Facebook page to make sure she was okay since I hadn’t seen her posts pop up in a while (as a result of the Facebook algorithm),  I noticed my full name (something I currently do not have on my new one) showing up as a friend on her friend’s list. I thought maybe it was a glitch, but when I clicked it on it, it not only showed our mutual friends, but showed my old profile pictures, friends, and mutual friends.

I was shocked. I definitely did not reactive my Facebook page and had no intention to, considering I created a new one. Not only that, but that Facebook profile held so many negative memories for me of a time where I was really unhappy, that I didn’t even want to just keep the page I had, delete former friends and keep the ones I was close to. I wanted it gone and didn’t want to be reminded of my previous struggles.

I called out to my husband and asked him for advice regarding what I should do. Originally, I considered contacting Facebook directly to ask them to delete it since I honestly started panicking about the thought of it being up there and all of those people still having direct access to me. I didn’t even want to sign on and even see any signs of my old self on there. He told me that I would probably have to sign on and deactivate it again, because let’s face it, Facebook probably wouldn’t have done anything about it. Of all the technical difficulty inquiries they’re faced with, why would they answer mine?

There was nothing left for me to do, but to sign on and deactivate again. The moment I typed in my log in, realizing that my Facebook page had been reactivated for who knows how long, I was mortified.

Some people deactivate Facebook for safety reasons and while there wasn’t anyone on there stalking me (thank God), there were a lot of people that at the time were really unhealthy for my emotional health that I needed to break free from. They weren’t bad people, but it was more so the affect they had and what they represented for me – a time where I was unhappy and suicidal. Now, thanks to Facebook, that access was given all over again. I was still getting game requests on that profile page as recently as April 26th of this year from people I haven’t associated with in years.

My wonderful, supportive husband, ended up Googling a link to officially delete my Facebook account, since they don’t exactly make it easier for you to do so, and I did it.

For me, it wasn’t so much that my old Facebook profile still has enough data that it can be reactivated. It wasn’t even so much that people I no longer associated with had access to me and were sending me messages and game invitations. It was the fact that Facebook reactivates old profiles without the owner’s consent. It’s the fact that even if you deactivate it, with the intent of not returning, the choice is no longer yours. They decide.

What if someone deactivated it because they were escaping an abuser or someone was stalking or harassing them online? Even if not, reactivating it should be the decision of the owner, NOT Facebook to decide whether you’ve been off of it too long. In any case, if a person hasn’t been on it in a while they should delete it, not decide to open the account up, again. Realizing that this happens often, infuriated me and honestly, almost made want to delete the one I currently own. It’s an invasion of privacy and a disrespect for an individual’s right to choose whether or not they decide to use the site anymore.

Reactivating it should be the decision of the owner, NOT the website. Click To Tweet
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I appreciate Facebook’s site and I love that it’s a medium that can connect you to so many people. It’s one that as a result, I continue to use. I appreciate that it’s another way you can stay updated with what’s going on with your friend’s lives. I love that I can, if I choose to, celebrate a Facebook friendship anniversary or reflect on a memory with a friend. However, I strongly believe that the right to reactivate an account should be up to that individual – not the site to decide. I hope this site recognizes it and gives the choice of reactivation to it’s users.

I share this as a cautionary tale to anyone who has deactivated their Facebook profile years ago. If you intend to return, by all means, keep it as is. If you are intending to delete it, click the following link to ensure that it won’t pop up five years from now when you least expect it.

Here’s to hoping and praying they respect that it’s my choice.

 

Has this ever happened to you or someone you know? If so, how did they respond to it? What are your thoughts about this?


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