A few weeks ago, I deactivated my Facebook account.
The funny thing is that although I had 350+ “Friends,” I’m pretty sure that not one person noticed my absence.
Not even my husband. (Thanks, hun!)
While the whole prospect made me a bit sad — because this essentially meant that something horrible could’ve happened to me and no one would know or even care — I began to realize that my life as a whole was better because I’ve cut Facebook out of my life.
Too Big, Too Much
I was probably among the first 10,000 to join Facebook in 2002 2004 (thanks Sherry for the correction). My university was only the second or third to have a Facebook network (remember when you were required to have an .edu email address to open a Facebook account?), and when I received the invite I obligingly accepted.
I played around with it a bit, but soon abandoned it for the more-popular Friendster.
Fast-forward to 2006. By this time, Facebook had gained quite some ground among university students. But it wanted more. So it made its boldest move yet: it opened its doors to anyone who wanted to join.
Soon, everyone seemed to be talking about Facebook. It had been so long since I had last logged on that I couldn’t remember my password — I had to log back into my jhu.edu account (whose password took a while for me to remember too) and retrieve the darn thing just to be able to log back into my account.
Now, Facebook has over 350 million users worldwide. Not only are practically all my friends on Facebook, but so are corporations, marketers, and small businesses. There are fanpages for practically everything you can think of, including obscure products and mundane concepts.
Sure, my friends would regularly update me on the going-ons in their lives, post pictures and videos, and share interesting tidbits they’ve found on the web. And I did enjoy these things…
…but only for a while.
Soon, it just became too much.
The Corporatization of Facebook
Facebook first began to lose its appeal to me when at my old company, my employers decided to hire a “Facebook consultant” to publicize and monetize our brand.
The price of this consultant? A staggering $25,000.
As part of the marketing team, I was required to attend these sessions where the consultant would teach us the ins and outs of Facebook. How to create an account. How to create a fanpage. How to add friends. How to share links. How to—
I already knew how to do all this stuff. And what’s more, I knew it better than this schmuck who was charging us $25,000.
When did Facebook become so essential as to necessitate the hiring of overpriced consultants?
It only got worse from there.
The not-so-private privacy settings. Products being hawked at me left and right. The incessant, unnecessary chatter.
And there’s the fact that Facebook owns all the information I’ve unloaded onto its servers. Even though I’ve quit, all the details of my account are still stored in its database. Pictures. Status updates. Wall posts. Everything. So there is no way to really quit.
As if that didn’t make me uncomfortable enough…
High School, Part Deux
When did Facebook become such a popularity contest?
Comparing numbers of friends/fans. Checking to see how many people “liked” your status update. Looking to garner as many comments as possible.
There are also those who create fanpages for themselves or their friends. No, not the kind where you develop a fanpage for your business or brand. The kind where the sole purpose of the page is to shout, “Hey! I’m awesome! Won’t you please acknowledge that fact?”
Gossiping. Cliques. Peer pressure.
I, for one, hated my high school experience and I have no plans to return.
How Eliminating Facebook Changed My Life
I no longer feel the urge to check my Facebook page every 10 minutes.
I no longer feel pressured into becoming fans of, or joining groups in which I have no interest.
I no longer wonder why certain people de-friended me on Facebook.
I now have more time. Time to read, work, and find new sources of entertainment.
I am now using more traditional methods of communication to reach out to my loved ones.
And I now comment more frequently on friends’ blogs — as opposed to hitting the “like” button or commenting directly on Facebook — which I believe to be more personal and better appreciated.
Am I missing out by quitting Facebook? Sure, I may miss minor announcements and daily updates from friends. But I figure that if it is something important, I will hear about it through alternate means.
Because Facebook is not the only form of communication or being “in the loop.” I just hadn’t realized how much I, like many others, have made it so.
Will I ever return? Perhaps. But for now, I am content sans Facebook.
This post makes me think….stop that. 🙂
whatever, you didn’t notice i deactivated my account too, so we’re even!
The only reason I’m still on Facebook is so I can play Farmville, otherwise I would be so out of there. Agree 100% with this post.
Thank you for posting this! I remember the good ‘ol days of Facebook. I wasn’t as early to join as you, but I still remember when everyone was linked through their university. I kinda liked it that way. Months ago, my husband and I went on a "facebook cleanse". We didn’t close our accounts, but we agreed not to login. I actually really enjoyed being away from FB, as tough as it was. Now here we are five or six months later. I have reverted back to checking it daily. He hasn’t checked it once. Very interesting post!!
I actually did notice but I thought you were just taking a break. We’ll miss you there, but I am glad to see that you’re blogging and doing well. Be sure to keep in touch outside of the Big Book! 🙂
I noticed, in fact I was just wondering what you’ve been up to the other day. Good for you on getting rid of facebook. I’m too weak to do that for now. lol. But I’m glad you’re blogging. 🙂
I feel similarly. I haven’t quit (yet) but I’ve turned off my wall and stopped using it. It creeps me out. I had no idea corporations were spending so much to flood us with those ads!
I often think about getting rid of facebook, I just don’t think I could do it. I have so many friends and family in far away places and the only way I get to see their photos is through facebook. . . I would be so lonely if I ever quit!
What a great post. Very courageous of you. I don’t think I could do that, as I’m in the same boat as Debt Free Girl with lots of family ties on Facebook. Although, to your point, it’s kind of depressing that I keep up with them via Facebook instead of writing or calling them, which I still try to do sometimes.
I remember signing up in 2004, and was still an avid Myspace user. Slowly, I switched to Facebook and canceled my Myspace. Now, I really only read up on close friends and my relatives and take all the other crap out of my feed. But reading this totally makes me want to do a "friend cleanse."
Debt Free Girl & Ashley — although the majority of my cousins are on Facebook, most of them don’t update much, so I think I got lucky in that respect. Even when I was addicted to Facebook, I would find out most family news through my parents.
Actually, I think FB started in early 2004. I only remember that because I had just graduated from college a semester early and then this FB tool appeared at the same time. I thought it was a great way to keep connected to people I wouldn’t have stayed in touch with otherwise. You meet so many great people throughout your life and it’d be next to impossible to keep in touch with everyone if not for mass social networking platforms. Plus, it’s such a convenient way to stalk my sisters. 😉
I’m 100% with you on being wary of FB’s ownership of whatever I upload onto FB. That’s why I limit what I share with FB and have never uploaded any albums.
But I have to disagree with your perception of FB as a revisit of a high school popularity contest. I don’t think it’s that way at all. Do people really compare numbers of friends or comments? That’s … silly. Maybe there are some people who care about those numbers, but I doubt that most adults do. Besides, those numbers mean very little. I know that people use FB in different ways. Some people have a high number of "friends" because they’re in a field that requires them to constantly meet new people and network extensively. Others have a lower amount of virtual friends because they’re just more selective in who they invite/ accept. The numbers are in no way correlated to the quantity or quality of their relationships in real life.
Great post. There are moments when I think about deactivating my account, but I just don’t have the guts to do it. Oh how I remember the .edu days.
Love this post. I want so badly to deactivate my Facebook account. It makes me hate people I think of as my friends. Their inane updates, the showy-ness: I have X, I am doing Y, I just birthed Z, and here are all the pictures OMG I am so blessed/amazing/etc. Ugh, I just hate it! I’m so sick of hearing other people’s thoughts I could scream. BUT I made the mistake of creating a Facebook page for my Department (where’s my $25,000 surcharge?!?) so as I’m sure you know, if I delete ME, I delete IT. ::sigh::
You know what’s funny? I still prefer MySpace and quite enjoy housing my pictures there. These days, it’s like a deserted coastal landscape in there.
Hi, as much as I admire your effort to regain control of your life and remove unhealthy attachments such as facebook, I think it’s right that you are blaming facebook for your choices.
Facebook is only a medium. You let it become a popularity contest, a manifestation of high school, an addiction. It’s like saying that cars are evil because people die in car crashes. Facebook exists as a way for people to maintain connections, make new connections and learn about new friends in a non-confrontational low threshold environment. As with anything, people abuse it, creating more drama around things. There is a way to have a facebook page and not get sucked into abusive addictive behavior. You just weren’t able to control your own actions.
I know i’m being harsh, and i’m sorry to be a bearer of criticism. I just want to make you aware that you are the only one who is responsible for your own behavior.
Sherry – your’re correct; Facebook started in 2004, not 2002 (oops!). And I completely agree that many people use Facebook for different purposes. However, a large number of my friends were using the platform as a big popularity contest. Maybe it’s because the majority of my Facebook friends are younger? I’m not that discriminate when it comes to accepting friendship invitations (if I know you, I accept) and so this is probably more my fault.
Skeptic – I think you took my post the wrong way, but I have to say that I agree with you. I never blamed Facebook for the negative points I’ve listed, nor would I say that it is evil. I tend to have an addictive personality and I know I myself am to blame for letting it get to me so personally (and that’s why I’ve chosen to distance myself from it). Like I said to Sherry above, I blame it on the users who are using it immaturely in ways that I believe promote narcissism and self-adoration/promotion, in addition to the media and the large corporations who are declaring that not using Facebook is "social suicide." Facebook is a great idea and a great platform; it is only select users who are ruining it for me.
nahh i don’t think hopkins was the 2nd or 3rd school to have facebook. i remember back in college talking to people i knew from harvard/stanford/UCs about this "facebook" thing and wondering why we didn’t have it yet.
jwl — I remember that when I received my invitation, Facebook was still in beta mode and that the invitation specifically said that we were one of the very first schools to get it. Maybe the beta version was available to some people via invitation before it became public?
i totally noticed that you left and thought that you were taking a break from. glad that you’re happy from it and finding more time to do things you want to do! i personally have to use it for work and networking. hopefully nobody takes it as self adoration at least from my page because it’s mostly work stuff for me.
I hate when people use facebook like a twitter update… posting their every move by the minute in their status. I love how you’re so tactful with your words. Thanks for the friendly reminder of how FB and it’s stupid farmville application ruined my social skills BAH!
Pearl and I noticed you weren’t posting any more but I didn’t figure out you left completely until today! Now I’ll be forced to add a blog with the word "heels" to my Reader. Let it be the last one.
Ok i’m a bit late for comments but have to tell ya that my point of view totally agrees with your post here.
As you said the most ridiculous things are business side with "Social Media" consultans and social side with people who creates a fan page for themselves, this makes me laught a lot.
I quitted facebook too, despide i know no one gave a damn – i wanted anyway to stay out of that crazy human processes 🙂
Facebook is only what you make it. You choose how many friends you have, you choose who your friends are, you choose the time you spend, you choose what you share, you choose who can see it, and you choose what you do. Facebook only becomes a "problem" for those who are addicted to it, and are dependent upon it. I have a Facebook account. I check it daily, or every other day. I do not feel the urge to check my Facebook page every 10 minutes, feel pressured into becoming fans of, or joining groups in which I have no interest, wonder why certain people de-friended me, or feel like I have no time. It's not like Facebook shackles your wrists to the computer and punches you in the face when you ignore it.