I did it. I permanently deleted my Facebook account yesterday.
In early summer, I got fed up with Facebook and decided to take a break from it. I deactivated my account (which meant I didn’t show up in searches anymore or on anyone’s lists), and for two months I didn’t miss it at all.
Then an old friend told me that he’d gone to Burning Man and posted his photos on Facebook and nowhere else. I wanted to see them, so I logged back into Facebook and found that my wall looked pretty much the same as it had when I last saw it. The same announcements of accomplishments in games, the same passive-aggressive status updates, the same everything. I quickly found my friend’s photos, clicked through them (looks like he had an awesome time), and got the hell out of Dodge.
I know that a lot of people (a lot of people–including many readers here) use and enjoy Facebook. Good for them (and you). But I’ve realized that it’s just not my thing, and I’ve decided to stop wasting my time and energy on it.
I took a few minutes to send notes to people who use only Facebook to communicate with me and with whom I’d still like to keep in touch. Interestingly, this was a fairly small group on both counts: most people know how to reach me through other means (phone, Twitter, e-mail, snail mail, even–gasp!–face to face contact), and I’ve noticed that most of my Facebook “friends” aren’t really friends in the sense that contact with them is something I actively want.*
A few of the people I wrote to have asked why I left (my note just said I was deleting my account and provided my contact information), and a surprising number replied with some form of “Good for you!” Kind of makes me wonder if a mass exodus from Facebook is on the horizon…**
And of course there are the privacy and marketing concerns. Whatever meager benefit I might derive from using Facebook is obliterated by my unhappiness about how that organization handles my information. Need more convincing on this point? Take a look at Gizmodo’s excellent articles on the subject: “Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook” and its followup, “More Reasons Why You Should Still Quit Facebook.
“Wired’s UK editor is off Facebook, too, and spells out his reasons here. A few interesting tidbits from his article:
- “Some day you should take time to read those 5,830 words: it’s Facebook that owns the rights to do as it pleases with your data, and to sell access to it to whoever is willing to pay.”
I know that the simple act of using the Internet and living in a society with other people means I can’t live a life that’s 100% private. And I’m totally okay with that. What I’m not okay with, though, is willingly handing my personal information over for free to someone who I know will use it any way he can to make money. (I trust Mark Zuckerberg about as far as I can throw him. Take a look at the current New Yorker profile of him, and maybe you’ll see why.)
So what am I going to do with all the time I used to spend on Facebook? Lots of stuff. Hopefully some of it will be interesting enough to write about here!
* I hope that doesn’t come across as snotty. It’s just that, for all that my “friends” list had a few hundred names on it, most of those people were acquaintances at best, and I’m sure that neither they nor I will miss our interactions on Facebook. I suspect that this situation is true for most Facebook users, actually.
** If you’re interested in deleting your own Facebook account, take a look at this article to learn how to do it. It’s easy to find the link for “deactivation” (making your account dormant) on your Facebook page, but in order to find the “deletion” link you have to go something like five links deep into their “help” files. And even after you say, “Yes, I want to delete it,” your account is actually only dormant for the next fourteen days (then it’s deleted) and goes back to live status if you log in during that time. Jerks.