The whole world is not on Facebook, though it may feel that way. I know. I used to. But that was before I deactivated my account, for good.
It was easier to quit than I thought. Why did I think it would be difficult?
Because when I first toyed with the idea, I deactivated my account for a month. I created a new account solely for the purpose of keeping up with a book group, where I friended no one, but followed several newspapers to read what was happening in the world, in one place.
When The New York Times posted a really cool picture, I immediately hovered my mouse over ‘Share,’ reacting as quickly and obediently as Pavlov’s dog. I then remembered I had no one to share it with. Facebook has people thinking they really want to share information, photos, etc. But what people subconsciously want is the buzz that might come from someone clicking ‘Like.’
That confirmed I needed to get off that platform. So I did.
There have been studies, about social media addiction in general and about Facebook in particular. This Reader’s Digest article lists 9 signs to know you spend too much time on the site, including “Facebook is your main news source” (a whole other issue for another day). A Forbes article runs down 46 things myriad studies have found, including links to depression and the disturbing manipulation of the site, stating “We are programmable” (see Pavlov, above).
I grew to dislike the site because of how much information they requested, that people offer freely, not realizing (or not caring) where that information ends up (read Facebook Should Pay All Of Us in The New Yorker). Then, they started using facial recognition technology. Then I was done. (Thankfully, I left before Facebook live, and the site being used to spread fake news.)
So what have I missed being Facebook-free for two years? I mostly have no idea. Occasionally, someone will try to read their Facebook feed to me. I politely tell them to stop, that if I wanted to know what people or entities there were up to – at least according to that which they present as themselves on Facebook – I’d be on the site. I remind that it’s possible to keep in touch with people and entities in other ways, as I do (email, e-newsletters, in-person visits, and the phone). I also reveal what week of my being Facebook-free it is.
This is week 104. I’m sure if I was on Facebook there wouldn’t be a revisit-this-memory pop up for that occasion. It’s one I celebrate, though, if for no other reason than I missed the entire presidential election cycle there (I can only imagine the vitriol, the false headlines, the rude discourse). I’m sure there wouldn’t be a notification either. Imagine: “Tara’s been off Facebook for 2 years! Wish her continued solace and sanity away from this place.”
A friend told me about a notification he received this week, which is super creepy: “We care about you and your Facebook memories. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 2 years ago.”
Oh, sweet manipulation! Facebook claims to care about your memories, but really just wants people sharing personal information, sharing posts that reveal more personal information, all to be sold to… who is buying the information? That’s more than enough to keep me off the site, forever.
It’s a good thing I have my blog, or some of you would never know that. Some still think we’re Facebook friends. I went to a party last year and a woman said she’s been keeping up with me there. I smiled. “Actually, I deactivated my account last year.” If our acquaintance wasn’t deactivated then, it certainly was at that particular moment. Just think – I didn’t even have to click ‘unfriend’ to get that done.
I think I’ll stop counting the weeks. And not being on Facebook means I won’t inadvertently be reminded of my Facebook-free anniversary or of other memories or anniversaries that perhaps I don’t want to remember (like when Facebook admitted they manipulated people’s news feeds to show sad information/memories as part of a study. Good times).
1-0-4 — Facebook no more. No one else might, but that’s something I most definitely ‘Like.’