Cut the plug: Deleting Facebook and Instagram

In the past, I used Medium for personal life updates separate from my blog. So I decided to write this announcement here too.

tl;dr

I’m permanently deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts on November 5th, 2017.

If you want to know how to keep in touch with me or why I decided on this, read below.

Time to let it go. Image from Unsplash.

Where to find me

I’m limiting my social media presence to a minimum and using other platforms for sharing my life. The best places to keep up with me are…

You can also ask for my phone number (although for various reasons, Telegram is still a better way to reach me than by phone number).

Why?

I’ve wanted to delete my Facebook and Instagram for a long time, but like many others, it seemed so difficult. In a world where everything (from information to people) is accessible with a quick tap, how do you connect with friends new and old? How do you keep in touch with friends a mile or eight thousand miles away? I thought about this all for a while, then I read this article (thanks Don Watkins for sharing).

The article helps resolve doubts about committing to this decision. But still… why?

“How to: Social media”

Social media is helpful and uplifting when used correctly, or draining and depressing when used incorrectly. But really, what is the right way or not to use social media? When you’re down, it’s easy to fill holes in your life with someone else’s life adventures. When you feel stuck, your lens changes from observation to comparison. When you’re sad, it’s easy to become more sad from reading the articles someone shares (since most mainstream news sites only report the negative anyways, regardless of bias). If you’re down, stuck, or sad, the last thing you’re thinking is whether you’re using social media “correctly”.

My social media accounts started to feel like crutches instead of a tool. It felt like a lazy way to keep up with friends… by only reading, but never interacting. That one-way communication is like getting a friend request from “harsh self-criticism” or even “ isolation”. Yet I was always too timid and worried of “missing something” to reject this imaginary friend request.

Then I decided I was tired of feeling this way.

Moment of realization

My turning point happened when someone told me they were envious of a past adventure from a picture I took somewhere I visited. Their tone implied that my life was more exciting and happy than theirs. You hear someone say this, and you instantly think of the mornings where you wake up with crippling depression and getting out of bed feels like the biggest accomplish you’ll make all day. And then you wonder…

What sort of picture was I painting for myself? Suddenly I was acutely aware of this and how I share my life with others. I prefer honesty over vanity, yet I felt complacent with the same problem for others that sometimes plagued me. It felt dirty, like someone was using me to do harm without my knowledge.

Then, when I read the article on how to quit Facebook, I decided this was the time for both Facebook and Instagram.

Social media in 2017

In addition to my personal dilemma with social media, the growing criticism and skepticism of how information (propaganda, news, or otherwise) is shared concerned me. What algorithm decides what I see or don’t see? How is that decision made? How has an algorithm decided to “profile” me to decide what to show me?

This raises another question… how is my data used? How has my personality made someone else money in ad revenue and “market research” data? When I created my Facebook account at 13, I never read the terms of service or privacy policy. I was never notified to accept changes to the policies, but they were changed and I was notified, with the expectation to remain complicit with the changes.

I was tired of being complicit with a service whose interests viewed me as a metric instead of a person — and I doubt those interests will ever change.

Why not Twitter?

I plan to delete my Facebook and Instagram accounts, but not my Twitter account? What’s with the double standard? Why is Twitter different?

For now, I still use Twitter for both personal and professional interactions (where the others were mostly personal). I still use it in a way that I find productive and effective for me personally.

Does this mean I’ll always use Twitter? No, but for now, I’m still there.

Stay open

I spend a lot of time in open source communities and one of the things you hear often is open leadership, open organizations, and open practices. We spend a lot of time equating the idea of “openness” with professional values and practices. And from my time in open source… it works!

But it’s not just professional. Openness is important at a personal level too. Our hearts should default to open, to share love instead of hate. For every word of hate, it takes thrice in words of love to compensate. My challenge to others is to live with an open heart and make your personal habits remain true to who you are.

Good luck to us all.