A little while ago, I deleted my Facebook account. I know that it will take 30 days for it to be truly gone, but I'm done and I'm so, so glad.
The last straw for me came earlier this week, when I read two articles about various shenanigans undertaken by the odious Mark Zuckerberg and all of the unethical practices of the company. Nothing in it was particularly new and it's not like I didn't know it before. But something about that particular moment caused my mind to come into sharp focus and I thought, 'It's time to go.' I'd been growing increasingly uneasy about being on the site, knowing that I was monetised and that my presence was supporting the unethical business practices and greed of those at the top and causing harm in everyday people's lives all around the world. I'd considered leaving before, but for various reasons, I didn't do so. But this time, I was thinking about the fact that while it is true that we live in an imperfect world and often have to make imperfect choices, it's all the more important to make choices that align perfectly with our own ethical standards when we can. This is one such situation for me (it's also one reason why I do not even have an Amazon account). I know that google also has issues, but given that I need an email address to function in daily life, for example, I can't just dump that. Facebook was an easy one to get rid of. Once I made the decision to leave, I felt happy and relieved. I'd been finding it a hassle for a long time now and not just because of the ethical shortcomings of the company.and its founder.
It used to be OK for various things. I could keep in touch with people who were far away, if they were on the site, although still today almost all of the people I keep in contact with on more than a superficial level are not even on Facebook. I joined a few groups, liked art and cute animal pages, and used it to collect news in one place. I would click on the 'most recent' setting so I could see posts that way. It always reverted back to 'top stories' because that was better for their bottom line, but I always clicked it back. I never used the site as they hope people will. I did not click on ads, I did not send out friend requests or even accept them from most people. I did not last long in groups, because I never found anything in them worth interacting with and they were only cluttering up my page. I left all of them. I never used chat and kept it turned off. I rarely used Messenger.
Then they decided they were going to focus on groups and started trying to push me into them. Then the 'most recent' setting stopped working. It was still there, but I would click on it and see a post from 2 minutes ago next to a post from 3 days earlier. I sent a message about this a couple of times and each time, it worked for a while, but then stopped working. I'd end up seeing a lot of sponsored content or suggested pages and not see posts from pages I wanted to see. I'd see that so-and-so made a comment on some post that had nothing to do with me. And the memes and the virtue-signalling post sharing started to grate on my nerves. Some memes were funny the first time I saw them, but honestly, after the gazillionth share of the same meme, I was no longer laughing! Recently, I was scrolling through my timeline and two or three people had shared the same meme from different pages, so it was just there three times in a row.
So there I was scrolling through repetitive memes posted days before with the occasional old news story thrown in just to break things up. Not much point trying to follow news if it's days old so I stopped using the page for news and went to websites instead. I started subscribing to art blogs via email and seeing them that way instead of on my FB feed. Cute animal videos abound on youtube. In short, I simply spent less time on the site.
At the same time, I was thinking about how with Facebook, 'relationships' that would otherwise run their natural course and end, could sort of drag on long past their benefit to either person. There were some people on my page that I was either friends with at one time when I lived in the US, that I used to work with, or that I was acquainted with and maybe only saw once or twice in person. I still enjoyed seeing the pictures and other things some of these people would post, but for others, it wasn't that way. It's not that I thought these were bad people or that I actively disliked them, but rather that whatever interests we had in common when we met were no longer at the forefront of our lives. We'd grown in different directions, as people do. Not all relationships are meant to last a long time. But with Facebook, there we were. I unfollowed people. I snoozed people. But I always felt hypocritical, because if I don't want to see what someone is posting, then why continue the pretence of being 'friends.' I would not want to see them in real life or meet for coffee or anything like that, so why pretend online? By the time I saw the articles that made me decide to leave, I was thinking about how I could broach the subject of unfriending with these people. I felt awkward about it, because I know people have a tendency to take things personally, but part of me thought that maybe they would be relieved to get rid of me, too. When I removed people from my page because of their racist. misogynist, or homophobic views/posts, it was not a problem and I was perfectly comfortable telling them why we were not compatible. I didn't care what they thought about it. But this is different. These are perfectly nice people and I wish them well. I just didn't want to hang around with them anymore, even online, but I didn't want to hurt their feelings, either.
So all of that left me avoiding the page for days at a time. I would not go there and I would ignore notifications. I found that I enjoyed not being on the site. I had more free time. When I would force myself back on to respond to a message or something, I would scroll through my timeline and think, 'Well that was a waste of time.' Maybe that's why reading those articles earlier this week served as a catalyst. I was ready anyway and when I was reminded of the harm the company is doing all around the world I asked myself, 'Why are you supporting this by your presence when not only do you dislike being there, but you have been actively trying to avoid it? Delete, already!' So I did.
I told people I was going to leave and left things for a few days, because I wasn't sure whether the posts would be visible once I went through the steps to delete. I know it won't be truly deleted for 30 days, but I wasn't sure if things stayed up during that time. I wanted to say good-bye to a few people who I won't be in contact with anymore and I exchanged email addresses with some others so we could stay in touch in a different way. I was a bit surprised at the number of people who told me that they also actively dislike Facebook and are uncomfortable still using the site, but they have reasons for staying on. Some people love social media in general and Facebook in particular. That's cool and I hope they all continue to be happy. I'm not a very social person in real life and apparently that is also the case online. I don't have (or want) a smartphone, so anything I do online is on a computer. Facebook was my only social media account and now that's gone. I briefly tried Twitter years ago, but it was just a spamfest. I was on Pinterest for about 5 minutes when I realised that it would only be a waste of my time, so I got off of that as fast as I could. I don't even get on with Ravelry, which is a social media for yarn people. Nope, not for me. I have the radio, my podcasts, books and art/craft supplies. And now I have more time to enjoy them. Yay!