I Was Off Facebook For Two Years and This Is What I Discovered When I Came Back
My Facebook experience started in 2007 shortly after the doors were open to those outside of college. Following Friendster and MySpace, it was the hot new thing for me and my friends - that is, young professionals in our mid to late 20’s looking for ways to share information about our lives.
At the same time, smartphones started to replaced flip phones for most of us — I, having a Treo, because I worked in IT and some finance friends having Blackberries- but apps were unimaginable because iPhone was born later that year. The economy was also awesome, but that’s another story.
I jumped on Facebook with the same enthusiasm as other social networks: perfecting my profile, adding albums of vacations, stalking people and sharing immature comments about anything with what now seems like a tiny group of friends. This was before my parents were on Facebook or the Chairman of my company or my high school gym teacher; and certainly before any of those were my Facebook friends!
And I saw Facebook evolve throughout the years, from changing the nature of the timeline to introducing the “Like” button to having an app. I remember when posting an update was at most once-a-day and being disgusted when people started posting updates on mundane things, like look at this omelette I made. I was soon guilty of posting too much too with the birth of my first daughter (but it’s okay because she’s so cute).
But at the end of 2013 I was sick of Facebook — really sick of it. It was becoming a waste of time for me, providing me with little worthwhile information outside seeing what my friends were up to. And do I really care that Doug, who was only in 2nd grade with me, just bought an Acura? More than that, I was angry at Facebook. Yes, angry at Zuck & Co.!
At that time I was in my early 30’s and looked back at my mid 20’s as a period that did not need to live online forever. I did not want new colleagues to see me doing snow angels outside on the sidewalk in New York City in the summer after drinking 12 beers. And certainly I did I want them seeing the comments that followed! So I went to delete the old stuff and I discovered Facebook would not let me.
It became impossible, to keep it short. Old images would reappear days later, for example. Facebook made it exceptionally difficult. I was reminded of how folks would have difficulty quitting AOL. No thanks, so I deleted my profile. I wouldn’t say it was liberating; I just moved on.
I quickly realized that Facebook, above all, was a phenominal contact manager. Everyone I knew was on it, so being an IT professional I was smart enough to backup my friend list by taking screen shots prior to deleting the account. I created a new account some months later and refriended pretty much everyone.
Then two years went by without Facebooking. While I kept Messenger active on my phone to contact friends through Facebook (which was rare), I did not have the Facebook app on my phone or tablet. First thing I noticed was that my battery life seemed to double! I did not miss Facebook — there’s so much else out there on the Internet.
Towards the end of 2015 I sensed I was not aware of the innovations Facebook was pioneering and decided to jump back into Facebook. And this is what I noticed almost immediately:
Facebook recommends a lot of people I don’t know
I was constantly bombarded with people I may know. I know I don’t know them, but after some time I friended all of them. I now have 2000+ friends and know probably 300 of time. Good part is that I see interesting posts from them.
I’m added to groups and I hate it
And most of the groups were in Spanish and I was seeing updates from them! In the old days, you would be asked to join a group before being added to it. (Note: I don’t speak Spanish).
Facebook could be a robot for all I know
I had a hard time telling the difference between my friends’ content and ads, and because the timeline is curated I only see a small slice of what was going on. If all humans disappear tomorrow, I bet my timeline would continue to generate content just for me.
Way more ads
While ads are necessary, there seemed to be way more and placed everywhere. I remember when my timeline was absent of click-bait such as You Won’t Believe What I Found In My Kitchen Sink.
Facebook is a high maintenance girlfriend
I am constantly being asked every possible question: what’s my favorite movie, my favorite book, where I’m going, which Bieber song is my favorite, if I voted, what kind of animal I may be, where did I go to middle school, when did I buy my first home, and so on. And for a moment I feel obligated to answer it. Sorry Facebook, you’ll just never know that I went to Tenafly Middle School.
Some people spend all day on it
This hasn’t changed since 2013, but I was surprised to see the same folks from 2013 on Facebook constantly and consistently.
Home page is the same
Hasn’t changed a bit!
Cooler content mixed with mindless content
A lot of interesting content. I particularly like world politics and technology, and Facebook does not disappoint presenting me interesting articles. However, there’s so much garbage out there as well.
It has a huge audience
I’ll tell you this, if I post on one of my blogs, Boundless Technology or Preoteasa.com, it gets no where near the attention of posting on Facebook. And the fantastic community in New Jersey I live in is hyper connected to Facebook, making it easy to stay tuned into interesting events and discussions.
The technology is amazing
Facebook reigns supreme when it comes to innovation. So much thought on every front. Two years ago a video would not stop if you scrolled the timeline, for example.
It’s still the best contact manager
2015 is no different than 2013 insofar as everyone being on Facebook, so anytime I need to reach someone I know where to go.
It’s still a waste of time in a good way
I say this with a grin on my face, as I do enjoy wasting time on Facebook. While I go to TechCrunch for tech news, BBC and The Economist for global news, everything else comes from Facebook. Like watching TV, it’s an entertainable waste of time and sometimes that’s what I need.
It’s totally addictive
I noticed myself checking Facebook throughout the day for no reason, perhaps out of habit. Similar to checking my email a few minutes apart or Google News constantly.
Facebook is amazing — there’s no doubt about it. They are an incredible American company doing truly amazing innovating things through the world. I respect Mark Zuckerberg and the direction he has taken the company. As a shareholder I am in the company I am betting long. My view is that Facebook will be a massive and profitable force for at least the next 20 years. Unlike past Internet giants like AOL and Yahoo, Facebook’s culture is different because it constantly, relentlessly, passionately and annoying innovates.