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Column: Saying goodbye to Facebook for good

I felt like I was standing on the world's edge and looking down as I stared at the screen in front of me.

If you are sure you no longer wish to use Facebook and would like to delete your account, we can do this for you.

Underneath this message -- which filled me with sad guilt and all kinds of doubtful thoughts -- were two buttons: Proceed and Cancel. I didn't consider the weight of the action I was about to take, didn't wait two weeks or pray on it or even talk the issue over with my parents, who would have discouraged me.

Because I knew that if I hesitated, I would turn back.

So now I've quietly stepped back from the spotlight of social networking which shines so harshly on the civilized world, and chosen to live in the shadows for a while. Maybe I've met you once and now you'll never be able to find me or Friend me or send me an Inbox. I'm sorry. But that's how life is, I hate to say.

We meet new people all the time, and our society's protocol is to maintain the friendship on Facebook through pictures and Wall posts and friendly online Chat, just like you never parted ways. I was Friends with people from Sweden and Texas and the Czech Republic, foreign exchange students and friends of distant cousins and people I had met on a lovely day in a busy place and, for a short time, connected with.

The greatest pain in leaving Facebook came with the knowledge that I was breaking off the only tie with all the folks I've known and will never see again. They're just happy memories now, people I think about every now and then when I lie awake at night sentimental and alone.

And maybe, that's the way it should be.

Facebook, at least how I used it, is a sort of denial of the basic progression of life, a way to avoid having to move on from any given stage or put anyone behind you. When I first joined -- some two years ago -- all the memories and revelations with each visit to the computer blew my mind like a drug.

Kindergarten friends who moved away over summer suddenly wanted to make up for lost time, as did I. Relatives scattered all over America appeared in an unbroken list, all waiting for me to strike up a Chat. The whole happy family was in one place on my computer screen!

That never happened in real life.

Girls I had walked into once -- sometimes literally -- and vowed to never forget, suddenly wanted to be my friend. It was the most beautiful thing in the world.

But now I'm beginning to accept, if not appreciate, the fact that everything passes and we might as well not try to relive what's already gone or strike up old friendships that no longer mean anything. There are six billion folks out there, most of which you and I have never met. There isn't anything keeping us from getting to know at least some of them.

Someday, we'll likely circle back to old acquaintances through new ones, not by tracking them down on some dating website for people who aren't dating, but simply because it's a small world and even if you stick to unfamiliar roads you're bound to run into one you know eventually.

And when that happens, you'll know you should be friends again.

Nathan Kitzmann is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.