I Hate Facebook. So I Did Something About It
I recently received an email from Facebook congratulating me on my 10 year anniversary on the network. While I’m sure they had a heavily researched intention behind the email, I found it to be both striking and frightening. In the first place, I found it striking how in such a fickle market, they’ve endured for so long. While others have come and gone, Facebook remains. In the second place, I found it frightening when I considered just how much of my life I’ve lost to Facebook.
There are two ways of looking at social networks. The first way is that they’re a geographically agnostic way of connecting people. The opposing view is that social media is destroying human communication and relationships. I do acknowledge the great good that social networking has done. As a military child growing up in the time before the internet was mainstream, I lost many friendships with each move. Although it did not adversely affect me, it would’ve been nice to carry on at least a few of those friendships. At the same time, I’ve found social media has trended from authentic connection to sheer vanity. It’s a classic case of diminishing returns.
So I deactivated my Facebook account.
Certainly there have been a number of evolutions and iterations in how Facebook handles its timeline feature. Lately, so much of the news that was appearing was wholly uninteresting. It was nothing more than a plethora of articles, images, and status updates liked by people in my network that had no relevance to my own life. That was annoying, but not my impetus for leaving. Instead, I evaluated how I was using the network and hated what I found.
I was just being vain. I was pushing out updates that were only self-serving. I was sharing a heavily curated set of stories, updates, and photos, meant to impress. Like someone preparing for their high school reunion, I was editing my story in order to cater to the expectations of others. The further I fell into this trap, the less that I shared. Instead of sharing an unfiltered and authentic view into my life to my connections, I was only sharing that which I believed made me more likable.
Then there was the “default.” Any time I had a lull in my day, I would default to checking social media. So many precious minutes and opportunities lost that could have been used writing, designing, reading, or learning, were sent out into the nothingness of social media updates. Instead of defaulting to something worthwhile that I could walk away from feeling satisfied, I defaulted to reading the same updates that I’d already seen.
Facebook was designed to meet the human desire to connect, but all that it has ended up doing is creating the most tentative of connections. We get into fights instead of getting into conversations. We troll instead of building up. In my estimation, it was no longer worth my time.
I’ve left my Facebook page up so that I can continue to share my work, but I no longer use Facebook for personal reasons. I understand that others have found Facebook to be of great use, and so I want to still make my content available to those that wish to grab links from there.
Social networks have largely failed to achieve their stated purpose because they are, in the end, a business. We are the product, sold to marketers, leaving this attempt at human connection hijacked by advertisements and noise. Communication is one area in our lives that we could all work to improve.