Social media

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:

  • “Facebook has made it harder for users to understand exactly what they’re giving away…for instance, its privacy policy has grown from 1,004 words in 2005 to 5,830 words today (by comparison, as the New York Times has pointed out, the U.S. Constitution is 4,543).”
  • “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.

15 Responses to “Social media”

  1. Chrison 21 Sep 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I have not regretted never joining Facebook and I’m happy to keep it that way. Why would I want the people who were jerks and idiots in high school to get in touch with me to crow about their achievements?

  2. Vayaon 21 Sep 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I bet you have so much more time for yourself now, enjoy! xxx

  3. Frankon 22 Sep 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Marsha, I feel like I should comment since you were one of several of people who encouraged me to join Facebook, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since. It has been an effective way to reconnect with some people and all of our extended family events are planned via Facebook now.

    That said, I agree that their policies stink and I completely understand why you’d want to leave. I’ve modified what I share and do on Facebook and I’ve taken advantage of what privacy protections are available.

    I’ll see you on Twitter!

  4. Marshaon 23 Sep 2010 at 5:16 pm

    @Chris: I know what you mean. I joined FB to keep up with current friends and people I’d lost touch with but wish I hadn’t. I have maintained (semi)regular contact with only a handful of people from high school–I figure there’s a reason why I’m not in touch with most of my 600 classmates. :) When I reconnected with them on FB, it was kind of interesting to get the “where are they now?” look, but beyond that we didn’t have anything in common and nothing to talk about it, really.
    @Vaya: Thanks!
    @Frank: It’s been similarly effective for me, too (except for the extended family part–mine isn’t that big). I’ve just decided to use other means to keep in touch with people I want in my life. And if someone out there is looking for me, good ol’ Google will surely show them the way. :)

  5. One Tall Robon 24 Sep 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I had hoped that Diaspora would be a silver bullet for Facebook, but apparently its code is just riddled with security holes. Sadface.
    I chuckled at this New Yorker’s attempt at old-fashioned social networking:

  6. Marshaon 24 Sep 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Oh, what a fun article, Rob! Thanks for sharing it! I wonder how something like that would go over on the R5. Hmmm…

  7. Marshaon 28 Sep 2010 at 10:56 am

    FYI: The current issue of Business Week has an article on this subject. The title is “Facebook Sells Yours Friends.” Take a look at it here:

  8. Deborahon 01 Oct 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I’m getting caught up on my blog reading and just wanted to say “Hooray for you”. I know a few people that have deleted their accounts for various reasons in the past few months.

    I myself enjoy FB because it gives me the opportunity to stay in touch with my family and reconnect with friends from high school and even junior high. If it wasn’t for FB I probably would have not “found” these people again.

    My boyfriend has been one of those people who have refrained from joining FB. A couple of weeks ago he told me he was thinking about joining. I asked him why. We talked. He didn’t join. FB is not for everyone and as with all things (i.e. tv, computer games, etc.) if you indulge, it needs to be in moderation. Life goes on outside of our homes. Too short not to live it.

    So again, “Hooray” for doing what it right for you!

  9. Tiffanyon 01 Oct 2010 at 5:48 pm

    HEY! So that is where you went! I came across something last week that made me think of you (now I’ve totally forgotten what that was), and when I tried to go to your wall, it was gone.

    Thank goodness for google. :)

    BTW, I *still* have those photos from the newspaper of Sylvia and your mom. I’ll have to remember to put them with our holiday card.


  10. Marshaon 04 Oct 2010 at 2:57 pm

    @Deborah: FB was a good thing for me for a while (e.g., it helped me reconnect with a handful of people I’d missed), but I’ve exhausted whatever benefit it offered me, so closing my account was right for me. You’re right that it’s not for everyone.
    @Tiffany: Actually, I was HERE long before I was on FB. :) No hurry on the photos–whenever you get to it is fine.

  11. Kenon 06 Oct 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Well I must say that I’d gotten away from reading your blog, but since you’ve bailed from FB (I don’t blame you at all) I’m back to reading the blog again and realized that’s a heck of a lot more interesting that the drivel that is often posted on FB. However it does help me out here in AZ to connect with my fellow yoga teachers and keep in touch with them. So I guess for now I’m going to continue to be VERY selective about who I “friend” so that it remains the useful tool that I intended it to be.

  12. Marshaon 08 Oct 2010 at 2:20 pm

    And here is yet another reason to avoid FB. Me, personally, I’d rather not be “force joined” to a FB group for NAMBLA.

  13. Marshaon 09 Oct 2010 at 1:44 pm

    @Ken: Thanks! Now that we aren’t keeping in touch via FB, I hope you’ll pop in here from time to time. I’ll try to keep the drivel content low. :)

  14. MrGrooveon 26 Dec 2010 at 2:51 am

    Hey, I’m glad you liked my article! I had a lot of fun writing it although it was quite the rabbit hole….

    So what are you doing with all your free time now that you quite facebook? Blogging I take it! ;)

  15. Marshaon 27 Dec 2010 at 3:02 pm

    @MrGroove: A little blogging here, a little tweeting there…and more offline stuff, now that I’m no longer worried about “keeping up” with Facebook!