My Year Without Facebook

I’ve been off Facebook for a year and it’s had a larger impact on my life than I ever thought possible.

My Year Without Facebook

Just over a year ago I permanently deleted all my data from Facebook. After reading a few posts from other users who were getting tired of maintaining the online profile, I decided that I was tired of endless Buzzfeed articles, political shouting from my extended family members, and an endless timeline of photos from people who I didn’t really care about.

So without any warning to my wife, family, or friends, I deleted my account. Looking back over this last year I can see the influence this decision has made, not only on me, but on my wife as well. The impact of the choice I made to leave the network had a much larger impact than I was ready to admit.

Note: I am a millennial. My wife is a millennial. Most of our friends are as well. Facebook has been involved in my adult life since I enrolled in college 10 years ago. Facebook is a key part in most of our lives and I often feel like a leper for not having an account anymore.

I was amazed at the amount of parties, hang outs, or event planning my friends did on Facebook. Most of our friends don’t text, or email when they want to do something, they send an event invite on Facebook. Unfortunately for my wife, that means she has to now has to take the invite information and send me an invite via email to see if I can make it. It’s turned her into my event planning assistant, a role I never meant for her to have to fill.

In addition to the additional work my wife is having to do now, planning an event is pretty difficult without Facebook. Shortly after leaving Facebook my wife’s birthday was coming up. So being the great husband I am, I wanted to throw her a big bash at our house. There was only one problem, I had no one’s email address to send them the invite. So I had to spend extra time calling, texting, or running down my wife’s friends so I can could them an invite to her birthday. I then, had to send out an Evite, which allowed people to confirm if they were coming, but since I didn’t have a Facebook account all communication had to happen over email, which a lot of our friends just didn’t do.

Facebook currently controls a large amount of event planning in our lives, I had no idea.

A Window Back Home
I live in Asia most of the year and staying connected with family and friends back home is a challenge. Because of the time difference it’s very hard to call and connect with people. Facebook provides an easy way for me to see the highlights of my family. Most important for me is seeing photos from family gatherings, my nieces & nephews, and my friend’s children. I really enjoy seeing their updates.

Sharing Family Photos
Since we live abroad, I love seeing my extended family’s photos and I know they love to see what we are up to. Now that I am off Facebook, it has become my wife’s job to share our photos with my family members.

Before I left Facebook, this was not an issue. I would just upload the image and tag my wife. Now we have to deal with a combination of Dropbox syncing or Airdrop from our iPhones so I can send the images over to her to upload to Facebook. It’s an annoying process to simply get my images over to my family.

“I’ll Facebook You”
Lately, I’ve noticed an interesting social interaction. I’ll be at a meet-up, or some other event and I’ll exchange my business card with someone only to have them tell me that they’ll “find me on Facebook.”

I then have to explain that I am not on Facebook, which is usually followed by strange looks. I don’t know when this transition happened, but it appears that a lot people want to Facebook me rather than send me an email. Is this normal?

Unintentional Personal Assistant
This has been the biggest issue for me. Since I didn’t involve my wife in my decision to leave Facebook, I never had the chance to prepare her for the increased amount of messages she would receive on my behalf. I really never thought that people, once they realized I wasn’t on Facebook, would try to contact me through my wife.

Unfortunately, my wife now has to act as a go-between for people who want to contact me. She usually responds with a simple, send him an email response, but sometimes people actually continue to message her despite giving them my email address. I’m not really sure how to prevent people from doing this, it seems like social faux pas to me.

What’s Next?

I am not sure if I’ll come back to Facebook yet. I’m still using Twitter (@jesseorndorff), which I love. I think Facebook does provide some value, but I think if I did come back, I would need to be a better curator of how I use the site. I don’t want to offend people if I don’t accept their friend requests, but honestly for most people, I don’t want to be your Facebook friend.

This is where I think Google got it right with circles. Circles provided a great way to separate out content and who see that content. It’s just too bad no one uses Google+.

As I said above, for my group of friends, Facebook has been in our lives since we were in high school. So leaving the network has had actual real life consequences on how I interact with people. It seems I have to do a lot of work arounds in order to simply not have a Facebook account.

I’m not sure what this means for our society, but it worries me that one company has such a core impact on our lives. I wonder what the next platform we jump to will be?

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