So, I finally deleted my Facebook account. This was something I’ve been batting around for what seems like years, but after about 6 months of having my account deactivated, I pressed the button earlier today and it felt good. So, why did I pull the plug?
In my opinion, Facebook is bad for our society and I didn’t feel comfortable remaining on the site any longer. My departure probably won’t keep Mr. Zuckerberg awake at night but getting out of that ecosystem makes me feel better, and it’s far more productive than scrolling through misinformation, arguments and conspiracy theories every day. Groups of Americans have always disagreed and argued about politics but typically you’d find ways to discuss issues or focus on things that you mutually wanted to discuss. Now people shout their craziest beliefs into the void with no regard for what it might cause or who might read it, all the while demonizing people who don’t agree with them. Fun fact: folks agree on far more than we think we do, but our time on social media pushes us further into camps while demonizing those who are different than we are on the edges.
There’s little we can do to change folks minds on social platforms that feed people more and more polarized and inflammatory content, but by leaving we might be able to further marginalize Facebook as a place people want to spend their time. It’s important to think about what you put in and what you get out of a site like Facebook or Twitter and what it’s doing to our society and relationships. We’ll all land at different conclusions there and that’s fine, but hopefully you’re using it because it makes you happy and is the best way to connect with friends. But honestly, I doubt that’s happening.
About 6 months ago, I deactivated my Facebook account. I wanted to take stock of what things I’d be missing before dramatically pressing the delete button, so I did a quick audit of what I’d be missing out on:
- Facebook Messenger. I scanned the conversations I’d had on the messenger app in the past 6 months and I had everyone’s phone number with the exception of one. I messaged that person and let them know I’d be leaving and exchanged numbers. Easy.
- My neighborhood Facebook group. While 99% of it is folks complaining or arguing, there are some occasional announcements or useful tidbits that emerge from the neighborhood group. That said, I was spending less than a few minutes a week looking at those posts and usually had a lesser opinion of my neighbors than I did going in. I’ll take the risk here. Plus, I can always ask my wife to post on there if need be!
- Staying connected with friends and seeing their posts. I wasn’t really looking at those anyway, so things won’t be any different than they were before. I’ll just try harder to reach out to folks via other methods like text, FaceTime etc.
- The traffic Facebook sends to my site via the (now closed) Facebook page for this site. Since shutting that page down, I’ve seen about a 15% drop in traffic. I’ll live without it.
The one thing I didn’t mention above was Instagram. I still maintain an account there for now and the reason is that I view Instagram as a generally positive place that doesn’t have many of the same echo chamber & argumentative problems that Facebook has. That said, they have the same leadership and it’s entirely possible I’ll have to revisit that decision if (when?) they make changes that turn that place into a cesspool of humanity as well.
I’m hopeful that over time we can continue to move to smaller-scale sharing of content with family and friends. Things like iCloud photo sharing, text message groups and Slack groups bring me much more happiness than social media ever has. Even if you do stay on Facebook, I’d encourage you to unfollow brands™, political news sites, meme accounts and the like. You’ll be a lot happier if you do.