This post was originally from the blog site Binary Girls that my friends Abbey, Sarah, and I started. I’m saving it here for archival reasons.
Back in August I deleted my Facebook account. They have made me incredibly frustrated over the years, but they finally made me mad enough to just get rid of it.
I was an early adopter of Facebook. I created my account back in 2005, within a year of their starting. Back then only college students could sign up, and after some pressure from some friends I finally caved in. (After all, I had MySpace, why would I need a Facebook?) But as more friends joined Facebook and MySpace seemed to drift away, I ended up drifting to that as my main source of social contact.
One of the largest frustrations I had was their thoughts on privacy. I tend to think that my information is generally mine, and posting it to a website offers them permission to post this to my friends. However, as I saw things like the Facebook API get created, which allowed sharing your information with games, plugins, and other third-party software, information that you expected not to be shared with anyone could all of a sudden be shared. Why should some game that I join be able to see information about my friends? It’s not right. In addition, they constantly would change their settings to be public by default (and generally an opt-out instead of an opt-in system) and so unless you knew about these changes, you were just stuck accepting some settings you set once but changed back to something else for you.
In between when I started the account and now, a lot changed in my life. I dealt with a lot of depression, I had some personal issues to deal with, and I did eventually drop out of school. And of course Facebook reflected a lot of these things if you scrolled back through the feed far enough. Over time I managed to get back into college, life improved dramatically, and I didn’t want my Facebook to reflect a lot of those unhappy things. I “deleted” a ton of stuff. (And by “deleted” I mean it appeared to be deleted by their terminology, but really ended up just hidden.) However, when the time came to convert my profile to the timeline profile (a move I resisted as long as they allowed it), all of my “deleted” posts came back. I saw them all. And from all the evidence I could tell, it was also now publicly visible.
After getting back into college, I tried to keep up with Facebook, but it was just hard. Part of the issue was that it tried to intelligently guess what information people posted should show up on my news feed. So if you post a status update, you might expect it to go to all of your friends, however, there’s a chance it would only go to a select few if it doesn’t meet the criteria of their mysterious algorithm. I had one friend that would often ask me “Did you see what I posted on Facebook?” If I said now, he would reply with, “Well, can you go look?” After finally telling him that Facebook doesn’t share everything with everyone, but also that it was hard to keep up with everyone, he quit doing this and resumed talking to me like normal friends. But the other problem was that people post a lot of stuff, and if you multiply that by a lot of friends, you end up with a TON of information to try to read through. One of the biggest distractions was all the articles, pictures, videos, and more that people posted. I would end up opening these things up in other browser tabs, and it was pretty easy to get 20 or more tabs open in one session of Facebook. I had to quit that because I didn’t need the distraction from homework.
With the combination of the bad algorithm of choosing what I saw from my friends, the distractions from being productive at school, the privacy issues, and (probably the largest issue) undeleting what I thought was deleted, I purged my Facebook account. I use Twitter now, as it seems to alleviate most of the issues I had before (well, except the large amount of data and some interesting articles) but it still lets me connect with friends but without the weird unpredictable things and uncertainties that Facebook provided. Oh, and I’m WAY more productive without it.
Do I miss it? Not at all! It was weird the first couple of days, but after that it was like a breath of fresh air. Some friends have tried to tell me to come back, saying things like “I don’t know what’s going on with you anymore!” or “You can’t look at any of my pictures!” But they can always post on any of the other dozen photo sharing websites, or Twitter, or even email. And after assuring some friends that I didn’t hate them because they thought I blocked them, email, phone calls, texts, and Twitter have all worked great at continuing to connect with people. You know, the ways we used to do things (and, really, still do).
Have you had any issues with a service and decided to just delete them despite their popular use? Let me know in the comments below!