Leaving Facebook

August 29th at 7:48pm Jordan Finnigan

I did it: I deleted Facebook.

Well, not the company, just my profile on it. Not a soft delete, either, but a full-blown, balls-to-walls delete that will no doubt make Zuckerberg cry softly into the night.

I had been contemplating this move for quite a while and finally took a step forward by putting up a status detailing that I would be unavailable via Facebook and logging out. That was two months ago.

Eh, I think I'm done with Facebook for a while. If you need me, you can reach me via https://t.me/jadojodo.

The motivation for this “drastic” move was two-fold:

First, I don't trust Facebook as a company. This mistrust isn't unfounded, nor uncommon. In fact, I've always wanted to run a survey to find out just how many people do or do not trust Facebook. If you're interested, you can do so here. I may post the results at some point in the future.

My second motivation came about when I was browsing my feed and I realized that 99% of the things that I was seeing were irrelevent to me. While it's true that I do keep a diverse set of Facebook friends (and by comparison to some, very conservative in number: 200 max) I just didn't see much value in using it any longer. Sorry friends!

I've come to realize that Facebook (and a lot of social media) is a bit like standing at a party attended by your friends/acquaintances and (LOUDLY) stating things like “I GOT A NEW MOTORCYCLE” and “I JUST BROKE UP WITH MY GIRLFRIEND” to no one in particular. All of this with the hope that your musing will catch the ear of some passersby and garner a number of thumbs-up gestures.

To be sure: I am as guilty as anyone; Many-a-time have I conjured something (I thought was) pithy and clever only to race to my phone or computer (Just kidding! I'd never be without one or the other…), post it to my wall, and stand back in anticipation of the likes and comments it would surely receive.

But in this analogy, everyone else is also at their own party with their friends and acquaintances loudly stating “LOOK AT THIS PICTURE OF MY FOOD” or “I THINK THIS CAT PICTURE IS FUNNY AND I WANT NO ONE IN PARTICULAR TO SEE IT AS WELL”. I've decided that I don't want to fish and be fished for attention anymore. I want to see pictures of your food because YOU want me to see it. I want to tell you something pithy and clever because I want YOU to laugh.

It has been thirteen days since I scheduled my account for permanent deletion (Facebook gives you a fourteen day window to change your mind. wink wink). It has been 2 months since I stopped visiting Facebook. In that time, I've noted a few things happening:

The first is that Facebook started sending me more frequent notification emails, like the following:

Subject line: “Joe has shared a picture”. I open the email and there's no picture included, I have to visit the website. No thanks.

Next email…

Subject line: "Sarah has sent you a message”. I open the email. "Click to see this message and one-hundred thirty-nine other notifications”. Hmm, seems pretty click-bait-y. Is this Facebook or BuzzFeed?

The second thing I noticed is about me and how I feel less… aware. I still text frequently with the people most important to me, but those with whom I only passively engaged previously I've essentially lost contact. Those ex co-workers I don't see anymore? Not sure what they're up to. Friends from my childhood with whom I was really only friends on Facebook? I'll have to grab their numbers from my archive.

I see this as both a good and a bad thing. Good in that I'm forcing myself to engage in a more personal way with the people about whom I care but bad in that I'll very likely lose contact with a number of others. And I'm OK with that! I think this is just the result of pursuing more focused, intimate relationships with people.

The mindset Facebook (the service, not the company) has cultivated in people seems to be one of passivity and listlessness. I'll think:

“I don't need to keep up with Joe; I see his updates on Facebook”

“It's been a while since I had a conversation with that friend, but that's OK; They commented on my post the other day.”

I've decided I don't want to live like that anymore. I want to be purposeful in my relationships and engage with the people I know on a personal level. I want my interactions with them to be intimate and private, not on display for all my other friends to see (unless I want them to be).

There are no doubt great use-cases for Facebook, but it has become the toolbox, when it should just be a tool. One of many.

Jordan Finnigan