My first visit to Facebook in over a year was also my last. On to the next.

Alex Rainert
Mar 24, 2016 · 3 min read

I hadn’t logged onto Facebook since December 2014. Back then, I decided the effort — and data, oh that sweet sweet data — I was putting into the service wasn’t coming close to being matched by the value I was getting out of it. This was in stark contrast to the two products I used the most — Twitter and Instagram — where that balance was much more rewarding.

Facebook also became a place where being yourself, and sharing/standing by what you believe in, would often cause more trouble than it was worth so I found myself “toning down” the things I cared about in a way I didn’t have to on Twitter. Of course all this isn’t a surprise as Facebook is like being at a party with everyone you’ve ever met through every (often very different) stage and facet of your life. It wasn’t worth it. Life is too short.

I was also doing just fine finding interesting things to read and discuss (thanks to Twitter) and keeping up with the people I cared about most (using Instagram like I used to use Facebook ages ago) that using another product that did those things less well, plus 100 other things that I mostly didn’t need, didn’t make sense anymore.

In January 2015, I decided to deactivate my account for 3 months to see if I’d miss it from my daily life. It was an experiment. The 3 months came and went. Once that unconscious, instinctual habit was broken, there was honestly never a time where I wanted to go back.

While I think Facebook has done some great work over the past few years around the core product (most recently, the addition of reactions beyond Likes was really interesting), the ship has sailed for me when it comes to using Facebook proper. That said, what’s happening with Messenger is fascinating and I’d love to be able to see how it evolves firsthand.

This past week I thought I’d try and log back in to facebook.com and I felt like the kid in Room when he first gets out into the world. So many different things, barely distinct from one another, vying for my attention!

I absolutely believe my brain has subtly re-wired itself during those 15 months away from Facebook and that feels like a really good thing. The apps I use the most now (Instagram, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Day One, Spotify, Instapaper) feel almost serene in comparison. I do also love Slack but I often worry that it’s also trending towards a similar state of information overload. However, between Stewart’s leadership and the fact that they’re pulling together many of the smartest, most thoughtful, product people I know, gives me confidence that they’ll do the right thing(s) for the long run.

So with all that, I’m finally ready to close to book on the first era of Facebook for me and move onto the next one. On Monday, I stepped it up from deactivation to full deletion. Of course the process still takes 14 days but once the deletion is complete, I’m excited to pop on over to Messenger (and sign up with my phone number) and see how that product evolves.

Alex Rainert

Head of Product & Design @NYTimes. Husband to @superkb, father of 2, vizsla owner, introvert, runner, LFC supporter, easy laugh. Past: @foursquare @google @itp

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