Quitting Facebook

Posted February 7, 2019 in social media  |  2 Comments so far

Quitting Facebook wasn’t that hard.

It started almost by accident, in November last year, with a busy period at work leaving me no time to see what was happening on the blue forum. Once the busy period ended, I realised that it had been around two weeks since my last login. So I decided not to look at Facebook for a little while longer.

Christmas came and went, and still no Facebook. New Year also passed without Facebook.

You have to bear in mind that this wasn’t like quitting cigarettes where abstention is an act of conscious will. When I write about it here it might give the impression that I was sitting in a cold sweat, rocking back and forth in the twilight, gritting my teeth and staring at the clock as hour after after Facebook-free hour dragged past. It wasn’t like that. Life was just going on.

January also came and went. By the end of January I was beginning to get a bit anxious, not because I missed the blue forum, but because I thought people who knew me might be drawing the wrong inferences from my inactivity: that I was ignoring them, that I had died. That’s what made me decide it would be better to delete my account rather than leave it there, present but mute.

To delete my account I had to log in. 57-odd notifications were waiting for me. I had a quick look at them. Maybe something in there could have changed my mind. But all I learned from my quick glance at the notifications was that Facebook was doing OK in my absence. People had liked other people’s posts, some people had posted some things, yet others had shared content from the wider world: the wheel in the sky was still turning.

So I went through the deletion process, which I had expected to be a showcase of just how clingy and dark-pattern-y UI design can be when the best-paid minds in Silicon Valley really don’t want you to do something. In reality, though, it was quite clean and straightforward, other than the slightly sneaky way that Facebook tried to guide me towards deactivation rather than deletion.

As part of the process I also downloaded my data. There wasn’t too much as I only started going to Mark Zuckerberg’s website in 2013 and was never its heaviest user. If you’re a heavy user, of course, your download will be much bigger than my paltry 157Mb ZIP file. And even if you don’t plan on deleting your account I recommend you download and read through the data – it’s certainly an interesting experience, diverting and nostalgic on one hand, mildly paranoia-inducing on the other. The files you end up with on your hard drive are a lot easier to read than you might expect.

And that’s that, no more Facebook. I partly feel like being able to delete Facebook is down to privilege, something that’s easier for me to do than it would be for various others, so I’m not going to nag you or disapprove of you for not deleting Facebook yourself. But if you want to join me in the world beyond the blue forum, you’re more than welcome.

2 comments so far.  Post a comment

  1. February 9, 2019 at 3:41 pm [ Permalink

    Good for you! So, it’s been a couple months since you’ve actively used Facebook, do you feel disconnected from people at all?

  2. February 14, 2019 at 9:41 pm [ Permalink

    Not really, but I think the sunset period of my engagement with Facebook began a long time ago, and unconsciously as well. I removed the app from my iPad over a year ago and around the same time I stopped letting my browser save the Facebook password: that small piece of friction, having to type it for every login, cut my usage down a lot. So by the time I stopped using it the effect wasn’t all that noticeable.

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