I used to love Facebook. When I first signed up back in 2004, I was all about it. I could find old classmates, quickly share a funny link with my buddies, and generally stay connected in a way I’d never experienced before. It only got better when they rolled out the mobile version. Then something happened. It started to make me slightly depressed. It got strangely political. It started to creep me out. Last year, I deleted my Facebook account. And I’m never going back.
It’s not a privacy or advertising thing for me. If you want your personal info hidden from advertisers then don’t put it on the web or be willing to pay for it. As long as Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter are free, there will be brands trying to sell you their stuff.
I’ve got nothing against social networking. Twitter is the new CNN. Give me #WinterIsComing and #TexasForever all day. I can filter any mundane object in the universe and make it look like art on Instagram. I’m just not that into Facebook anymore.
It’s just not realistic to have that many friends. It started to get a little creepy thinking about all those people just lurking around. The smart people at Facebook attempted to combat this problem by offering different privacy filter settings so you can categorize your “friends” and who can see what. But if someone is my “friend” then why should I try to prevent them from seeing a picture of me? Isn’t that the entire point of a social network in the first place?
I wasn’t about to start un-friending people. It is still socially acceptable to un-follow someone on Twitter for over-tweeting but it’s not cool to unfriend someone that went to the same high school as you no matter what they post. Even if you never liked them in the first place.
FOMO is (sort of) a real thing. I’m a 32 year old father. My weekend evenings generally consist of trying to watch enough stuff off my DVR so that I don’t run out of space. But when you have over 800 Facebook friends it’s safe to say that at least 5 per cent of them at any given time are doing something epic and posting about it. That’s over 40 people taking a trip of a lifetime, getting married, partying with ex-Real World cast members, and eating a fancy dinner on a square plate. It’s mathematically impossible for any person to ever compete with that. Accept the fact that if you are on the couch and check Facebook you will see people having more fun than you and it might make you very sad.
One of the best (and worst) things since going Facebook free was I could no longer just mass broadcast information. No more easy way out on sharing birthday wishes or letting people know I was coming to town. I was forced to go back to much more personal forms of communication (group texting). At first it was slightly annoying but it’s helped me keep in touch much better. Sometimes I actually talk on the phone. Last week I had a 45 minute conversation with my Grandma using our land line telephones. There was something beautifully analogue about it. More proof that mankind’s best days are behind us.
You: I’m so glad we’re finally hanging out. It’s been too long.
Friend: I know! What have you been up to?
You: I went on this amazing trip to Barcelona…
Friend: Oh yeah, saw that on Facebook.
You: I ran into the heavy set Kardashian girl at the White Castle…
Friend: Yup, saw that on Facebook.
You: I chugged a bunch of this green ooze and the next thing I remember I was down in the sewer and this huge ninja rat man was teaching me how to use nunchucks….
Friend: Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook.
When you try to delete your account they give your about a dozen different chances to back out of it. Imagine if every time you tried to kick your crack habit you got a 14 day window to reconsider if that was what you really wanted to do. The first 14 days will be tough. After that there is no going back.
Facebook prevents you from living in the present. If it’s not worth sharing, checking in, and documenting then why bother with it in the first place right? I love that musicians have recently started asking people to leave their phones in their pockets at shows. I don’t blame them. Who wants to sing to a bunch of phones? I miss when you just saved a ticket stub from a show. Don’t be those people.
During my Facebook cleanse I’ve found that when you have one less tool at your disposal to instantly share your latest activity with 800 of your closest friends, you feel less compelled to capture it. Your phone magically stays in your pocket and all of the sudden realise you are at an concert with great friends and it’s pretty sweet.
Getting rid of Facebook will make you acutely aware of your usage habits. The second I found myself standing in line at the airport, during commercials, or all those little breaks at work where you really didn’t want to start a new task but had between 6 and 8 minutes to kill. That’s when you reach for your pocket and get your fix. The terrorists couldn’t have designed a better anti-social productivity killer.
I’ve un-scientifically concluded the new favourite pastime of middle class white women between ages 25 to 35 is reading status updates from people they haven’t seen in several years and live at least two states away. When I became a Dad, I kept telling myself I didn’t want to become one of those parents at the park absently checking Facebook while their kid is playing. Getting rid of Facebook helped make this dream a reality. And it didn’t end there, I took it one step further and have determined the two acceptable instances where I can flat out ignore my child’s (and wife’s) every need and focus all my attention on my iPhone.
1) I’m using my phone for work to make money so I can buy baby Air Jordan’s.
2) It’s fantasy football season and my team needs me.
Everyone (even me) breaks the rules. It’s tough to not want to capture every little moment of an adorable little toddler’s life, put a filter on it, and post it on the internet. We should not do that. Kids should have the opportunity to decide what picture of them gets put on the internet just like you did. Every single image in your 100+ photo album of Baby Lakynn’s first 8 hours alive are on being stored in top secret Google warehouses until the end of the world.
You shouldn’t post about politics. I couldn’t end without talking about one of the main factors that led to my ultimate break up with Facebook.
During the last few elections my newsfeed became overwhelmed political chatter. At first it was kind of cool. People should care about this stuff. Back in the day, you had to stick a cardboard sign in your yard. Now every man, woman, and child with an internet connection could throw a powerpoint pie chart or article up and reach the masses. The possibility that every “Like” could swing the election grew and grew. Social media was going to affect the outcome of the election and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
I’ve never been one to bite my tongue so I dove right in. Somehow felt like it was my job to educate all 824 of my Facebook about their political candidates so they didn’t botch the election for the rest of us. Facebook turned everyone into their own nightly news anchor and empowered them to attack at the first sign of injustice or un-truthiness.
Don’t be like me. Remember that at least 25 per cent of your friends will feel the exact opposite of whatever you believe. Probably more if you watch TV shows about singing or dancing competitions. Your post will not make anyone change their mind about machine guns, political affiliation, same sex marriage, or the Katy Perry situation. It’s still OK to post about how terrible the BCS is. That needs to stop.
Now that I’m Facebook free, I have to look other places for my news. It’s great. You start going to actual websites, reading actual articles, and like they used to say “surfing the web”. There’s a lot of great stuff out there not getting spread by the masses. I used to foolishly think that if something was worth checking out, I could just wait for the Facebook army to post it for me. But the new trend isn’t about posting stuff because you enjoyed it, it’s about posting content because you are trying to make a statement or inspire some sort of grassroots social change.
Maybe this is what Facebook was always destined to be. Maybe the era of LOL Cats is over forever. Maybe Facebook is just the hot nightclub (remember MySpace?) of the moment and a new bigger better platform will come along. Let’s hope so.
Go ahead and post this on Facebook. I hope you get a lot of “Likes”.