Quitting Facebook is a lot like quitting smoking
I’m trying to quit Facebook, but it’s not easy.
I regularly get that craving to see how people reacted to something I posted. I surf over to facebook.com for that little endorphin rush I get when I see that somebody has liked a post, laughed at a post, gotten angered by a post, or (best of all) commented on a post. I miss hanging out with my facebook friends shooting the breeze back forth while we refreshed our screens waiting for that next rush of acceptance, of confirmation that our ideas matter and that people are interested in us.
Quitting Facebook must be a lot like quitting smoking in the 1960s: We’ve been warned, but everyone else is still doing it, we can’t really see the full extent of the harm, and, besides, it’s enjoyable. And also like smoking, it’s almost impossible to quit if your significant other is still doing it. When your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner is on FaceBook, asking them “how was your day” seems redundant. They’ve posted that online. They’ve shared photos of their lunch. They’ve shared the articles they think are most interesting. They’ve shared their happiness and outrage. You should already be briefed and ready to discuss, not have them rehash it all again.
Of course that can happen, but because those messages are not personalized to you, supposedly their most intimate confidant, but instead to a general audience of “friends,” the conversations are never the same than if they have to explain everything to you personally.
My wife and I now use Flipboard to share interesting articles, and, if we come across one we think the other will be particularly interested in, we send it through SMS or, even more intimately, read it to each other. We laugh together, discuss together, and experience together.
I am no Luddite. I have been a tech trailblazer since the 1980s when I was one of the first students to take computer programming classes. I was also one of the earliest non-college students to get onto FaceBook over ten years ago, and have rekindled friendships long forgotten.
But my knowledge of technology has made me credulous, not naive. I have never wanted a “smart watch”, for example, because it can’t do anything my phone or iPad can do, and are actually less convenient than a simple watch and the disadvantages (expense, battery life, information overload, etc…) all outweighed any advnatages.
Facebook long ago reached the point of disadvantages outweighing advantages, but, still I persisted. Fortunately, both my wife and I have been gradually drifting away from the social media behemoth. She has now left completely, while i still check in a couple of times a week. I’ll give the occasional comment or thumbs up, check and see if anyone has left messages, but, quite frankly, I no longer know why.
One huge problem is that I have no idea why I see what I see. A process that should be transparent is opaque. As we have learned since the last election, Facebook is easily gamed. Another thing I have noticed is that as I interact less and less with Facebook, it interacts less and less with me. I still have posts automatically sent to Facebook from this blog and using a service called Buffer — which I can send an article I’m reading to and have it cross posted on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Yet, as much as a I post, fewer and fewer people interact with those posts. My suspicion is that, as I interact less with others on Facebook, Facebook surfaces my public posts less. I can’t prove that, of course, but the positive is I check less and less.
And now, I won’t be checking in at all. Instead, I’ll share my thoughts with my own personal blog (jason.cranfordteague.org), which I’ll still have posted on Facebook — as well as Google+ and Twitter — automatically, with with the invitation to come and respond directly on the blog article page if you want to say something to me.
I wish all of my friends the best, and hope to stay in contact through other means. But for me, I’ll now go silent on Facebook.
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Originally published at jason.cranfordteague.org on January 1, 2018.