One day, after Christmas in 2016 I deleted the Facebook app from my smartphone. I can’t say that I’ve never looked back, but I do feel that my life, in general, has been better since that day.
I then began to access it less and less via desktop while I was working. I deleted the app from my tablet. I have since bought an iPad and have never even installed it at all. I don’t remember my password any more.
I feel very please with myself that…
- I don’t waste time scrolling through the newsfeed and then feeling guilty about wasting my time.
- I don’t get feelings of jealousy about things other people are doing.
- I don’t spend time wondering about the ‘meaning’ of the posts of people I know.
- I don’t start to prepare a post, or share a link and then delete it because I have reflected on what I am doing and thought ‘who needs to know about that’?
- I don’t get anxious about trying to regulate the compartmentalisation of my personal and professional lives online.
I’m also not reflecting so much on questions such as:
- What are they trying to achieve by posting that?
- What would possess anyone to tell anyone about that?
- Do you ever consider that posting photos of your children might not be such a great idea?
- My word, don’t you have any kind of filter?
- Wow. Someone really would be able to find out a whole load of personal information about you if they wanted. Do you have absolutely no idea?
And then I would reflect on whether it’s me who’s weird for being so critical of other people’s behaviour on Facebook. Should I be less judgmental? Probably.
All sharing has a meaning. It’s usually ‘look at me’, see what I know, marvel at my success and wonderful life. It’s often ‘woe is me’, please give me sympathy. Or ‘agree with me’ — I need someone to support me on this to make me feel vindicated in my vehement disagreement / outspoken support of XYZ.
I used to be different. I used to share stuff on Facebook. Often related to ‘look at the great weather here you British people, I live in a country where the sun shines’. Or ‘check out what I’m doing in this amazing foreign country. Look at my amazing travel photos’. Or towards the ‘end’ — ‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit… man, I need people to know I’m in the NO tribe… I AM ONE OF THE 48%! I AM NOT STUPID!’
Of course, I wasn’t really reflecting on this so much at the time. But it built up very quickly.
I had always been aware of the psychology of online behaviour and had vaguely thought about it, but the deeper that thinking got, the more I thought about my online identity, what other people thought of me, what the whole thing meant. Once I stared working freelance I came across people talking about ‘personal branding’ and maintaining a consistent and professional present online.
So I thought about it some more.
I like Twitter. I’ve always preferred Twitter. But then Twitter has always been 95% professional to me, whereas Facebook became a mixture of personal and professional that I could never really cope well with.
I don’t miss Facebook, but I resent the fact that there is a lot of useful professional development opportunities in my field, discussions in groups and on pages that are actually worth spending time participating in and networks that it is professionally beneficial to be a part of. I resent that a lot.
It really fits in with the whole ‘Facebook IS the internet’ scenario. For many of the groups and communities I’m thinking of, all or most of their information, activities or discussions take place on Facebook and there is very little thought (it seems to me) about the fact that some people would prefer not to use Facebook, or simply don’t have an account. I get that in terms of it’s design and functionality it’s a superb for these interactions, but it’s still annoying and thoughtless.
I have left and I’m not thinking about going back, but I haven’t deleted my account. Not yet. Perhaps never. Just in case. Maybe I should? Maybe I’m just bottling it? But hey, I don’t really care.
All in all, the benefits I perceive from not using Facebook seem to be outweighing any sadness or frustration I may have about things I’m missing out on. There are countless friends and former colleagues I now have no interaction with; family members who only do their sharing on Facebook, or Instagram (not using that either). There are many things I miss.
And then this makes me hate Facebook more. For what they’ve done by persuading billions of people to spend so much of their time on this one platform, carry out the majority of their online interactions there and make people who don’t use Facebook seem like the weirdos.
I did go and look a few weeks ago and people were just carrying on the same. I don’t get it. Pictures of kids. Checking in to a restaurant. The exact route of where someone went running. Someone’s travel timetable for the next week. Some really argumentative political comments. Some new app people are now using.
The backlash is great. People are leaving Facebook. Finally, some people are looking at alternatives. At least I’m not the only one. But I still can’t understand why so many people are just carrying on like there’s nothing to think about.
Hey reader, make me feel vindicated and all that. Cheers.