Earlier I read this article on Jonathan Pizarro’s blog: Radio Free Mister Pizarro. In it he describes why he left Facebook recently. Some of his story mirrors my own, in how networks like these
I deleted my account about six weeks ago, but like Jonathan, my discontent and disinterest in the platform began much earlier. I removed all of my interests, likes, friends, and non-essential groups and pages about two years ago, around the same time that I unlinked my Twitter account from Facebook, which removed around 95% of the content that I’d previously been posting to the platform.
Why was I ever on Facebook?
Honestly it was never really something that interested me. I’m generally behind the curve on social media, though I enjoy the fact that cultures can exist online. I never paid much mind to Myspace, and I only signed up for Facebook in the Fall of 2005 due to school. It was my first semester at UCF, and a classmate on a group project told us that she’d post info for our project to her Facebook page.
I assumed that it functioned the same as Myspace, where visitors who weren’t logged in would still be able to see what was posted, but from the start Facebook was a highly walled garden. I created an account because I didn’t give much thought to the bargain that I was striking, one that I don’t think many of us do.
That bargain is one that many people have taken to discussing over the past few months, but I’ve not seen many accounts of people actually changing behavior due to any scandal that hits the company. Indeed, while there may have been temporary drop-off, there’s proof that the Facebook app is addicting based on download numbers in March of this year, as news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal was becoming widely reported.
How much does it provide me?
Right now it’s providing minor headaches, at best. But they are small compared to the larger headaches that I was feeling beforehand. If you’ve ever seen that South Park episode about Facebook, you know some of those headaches too. The social obligation and freemium gaming ones, not the Tronesque nightmare. Or maybe you do, and if so fine, live your own life.
Seriously, I’ve lived the above almost verbatim.
I no longer have access to the WordPress Orlando Facebook group that I started, but the group already had several administrators. I handed off ownership to other organizers, and not only trust that they will do a good job managing it, but won’t be personally affected if they don’t.
I no longer get to use my business pages, but I’ll be totally honest and say that I never used them, and the bit that I did was mainly out of the exhortations that if I didn’t have them my business wasn’t going to thrive. I can’t say that having a Facebook page would hurt my business, but I certainly never used it to get any leads.
I don’t see event invites, but for the events that I would be going to, I’ll know about them in other ways. If I don’t hear about an event, then in a solipsistic view, did it ever really happen?
So why did I leave?
I’m already used to the conversation with others that I missed something that they or someone else posted since I’m not following them, but that’s one area that I’ve been able to avoid FOMO for years. I have the privilege of not relying on someone else’s news to define how I act, and if it directly relates to me, they would know other ways to contact me. If they don’t find another way to contact me I consider it just as much on them. I don’t think that it’s an unacceptable burden to have someone who wants to contact me have to look at a second source, many of which are readily available and searchable.
But still, none of those are the real reason that I deleted my account. I quit years ago due to the disgust at myself for the enchantment with a feed that can be called toxic at the best of times even when solely populated by a friends list.
The real reason for deletion had as much to do with making a statement and sticking to ideals as anything else. While I’m not a first-class builder or user of decentralized and Indieweb technologies (though I’m actively working to change that), I agree with the idea that we should have viable alternatives to handing over all of our stuff to one company. I did write last week about running an Alternative to Twitter, which right now is more of a testbed and experiment than anything else. I don’t think that services like Mastodon will get widespread adoption without an as-yet-unseen killer app, but they are a starting point for a conversation that is gaining ground.
I don’t want to worry about what a company will do with my data. Or as I described on Saturday, whether I can even request that data be deleted when I’m done with the service. I want to be part of that idealized world where we get to have a say in what we do on the internet. It seems like more and more is already technically feasible, and it’s just the will of creators and consumers (and hopefully more overlap of the two) to put decentralized systems to use. I want to be a part of that solution.
Deleting Facebook doesn’t directly help with that in my case. But it doesn’t hurt either. And it’s only personally doing me good.