This isn’t the first time I’ve quit Facebook, but it is the last.
I’ve gone through the 5 stages of grief with Facebook:
- Nah, Facebook is totally useful to me
- Facebook changed its algorithm again?!
- If only I was more active on my timeline…
- My data will be mined regardless, what’s the point?
- There’s a more meaningful platform out there for me
Facebook and I have danced this tango before, though many of the reactions I received then seem almost comical now.
Relationship Status: in a relationship
I joined the Facebook movement in 2007–2009. I actually don’t remember exactly when, but at the very least, in college. I was a late arrival compared to my peers, but once I joined, I could not have been happier.
It was no MySpace, but Facebook quickly replaced email in how I communicated with everyone in my life. I even linked my Friend List to my phone’s contact list, so I could sync the profile pictures of my friends and families to their respective contact card. Oh how I loved seeing their Facebook pictures pop up when they called or texted!
In 2012, I left the US to travel. Living abroad, backpacking around foreign countries, and making friends along the way cemented Facebook in my life. This is was by far the most efficient way to keep up with international relationships and simultaneously stalk hometown acquaintances in a single wine-filled Wednesday evening.
I turned back to emailing and texting to keep in touch with the people that mattered most. By doing so, Facebook became obsolete.
The first time I deactivated Facebook was in August of 2014. Even though I had returned to the US and promptly moved across the country from all of my friends and family, I didn’t need Facebook. I was already connected to everyone I cared about in other ways; I was ready to move on. Deleting my account was simply a formality.
Relationship Status: it’s complicated
I grudgingly reactivated my Facebook account in September of 2015. After happily abstaining for over a year, I felt compelled to return in a professional capacity. I had transitioned from employee to freelancer, and I was helping clients with their online presence – Facebook included.
I used my account for what I considered to be purely business reasons, rarely posting on my own timeline or even viewing the news feed. I’d log straight into business manager to access the accounts and pages clients had granted me access to.
I spent about a year in this muted version of social networking. In October of 2016, I decided as a true entrepreneur, I needed to market myself and grow my own online presence. I set up my own business pages and accounts.
There was a really uncomfortable problem with this new approach to Facebook, one that I grappled with for over 6 months: I didn’t want clients or potential clients scrolling through my college or post-grad years of posts, photos, or check-ins. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing!
I was hesitant to accept friend requests from colleagues and clients, because my Facebook profile didn’t read as a professional portfolio, which is exactly how I wanted to use it now.
So, in May of 2017 I quietly deleted my Facebook account. And immediately created a new, improved and more professional one.
The “Networking” Facebook Profile
My new Facebook profile was a networking cliche: devoid of all true personality or flaws, superficially interesting, and oh so professional.
I would post and comment in waves of interest, sometimes forgetting about my profile (and business pages) for weeks at a time, before returning in a flurry of participation and engagement. The response was nonplussed at best.
My Facebook Friend List was mostly filled with acquaintances that I’d met once or twice at networking events, so-and-sos that somebody thought I should totally connect with, and people that I can’t remember ever meeting, but their names certainly look familiar.
In short, a Friend List made up of almost-friendships that never took off and other superficial Facebook users like me.
It was the lust and lure of “networking” that brought me back to Facebook.
At the time of this writing (Deleted Facebook on 4/1/18 – no joke) my news feed is filled with solopreneurs selling their services, personal brands telling their story, and individuals asking the world to weigh in on their daily decisions – and ads, of course.
There is nothing on Facebook that adds value to my day or meaning to my life. And it is completely of my own making.
I could have created a new profile that was authentic and honest, but I didn’t believe the environment Facebook had created was either of those things. I chose to create something that would blend in, and I was disappointed when it did.
Then, of course, Facebook ruined all hope of reconciliation.
The Data Scandal Heard ‘Round The World
When I heard about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, I wasn’t even surprised.
Facebook has had a decade-long, scandalous affair with data. Now, I am not a data expert or even an amateur internet privacy sleuth, but I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that Facebook takes a cavalier approach to user privacy.
No, Facebook is not the only company doing this.
Yes, much of Facebook’s data handling policies are outlined in the fine print.
But I still don’t believe in Facebook. I don’t believe that they will learn from these lessons, or see these scandals as anything more than PR nightmares. I don’t believe that Facebook cares about user data enough to protect it.
I do believe in people, and I hope that this most recent scandal encourages many of them to take an interest in their own internet privacy in order to protect themselves.
For me, however, this wasn’t the last straw. This was a reminder to call the vet and ask how my camel’s back is doing; it‘s been broken for months… maybe years.
I was already tired of the inauthenticity, the algorithm changes, and constant manual work required from me to repeatedly reset my privacy settings from the default of take-it-all! to No-I’m-not-sharing.
This time the solution to the Facebook problem isn’t to start over. The solution is to move on.
Quitting with Style
When I deactivated and quit Facebook in the past, I did so quietly.
While I’m not going to the other extreme now, I am being mindful of how I leave. My intention is that I will not return, so I need to put my affairs in order.
I contacted my clients to let them know I am leaving Facebook, so they could take back the reigns to their business accounts and pages.
I messaged everyone that I’ve been recently or regularly talking with in Messenger to tell them I’m leaving Facebook, to ensure we have each other’s real contact details.
I chose not to post an update on my leaving, to start a debate about the future of Facebook, or to invite my Friend List to follow me onto other platforms, because I’m not looking to recreate that experience anywhere else.
I’ve accepted that there are more meaningful platforms for me to genuinely connect with people I find interesting, keep up to date on the lives of those I care about, and share a bit of my own life with the world.