By Jonathan Timar 23 Comments

Why I Quit Facebook Forever

I first joined Facebook way back in 2007 or so, I can’t remember exactly when. Back then it was innocent and unassuming. There were no ads, and there were very few people on it, and fewer still who knew what it was. Heck, I was on it and I barely knew what it was. I had only one or two friends and we’d poke each other back and forth for no good reason, and that was the extent of my participation for a long time. But then something happened. Facebook exploded; the sweet innocent mogwai was transformed into the gremlin it has become today.

Facebook Then and Now

Facebook Then and Now

Without most of us being aware of it, Facebook took over our lives. Suddenly everyone was on Facebook. Even our moms were on Facebook. What started as just another online ‘profile’ became the online profile. Everything started happening through the centralized and very controlled Facebook Empire. Photo albums moved to Facebook. Email was, at least partially, replaced by Facebook. It wasn’t an event until it was on Facebook…

Over time I came to realize that Facebook was no longer just my online profile, it was Facebook’s online profile of me. Over time it became more and more clear that the only healthy, smart thing to do would be to quit Facebook forever. So here are the reasons that I did just that.

Facebook wants to know everything about you.

Facebook isn’t content with you sharing only what you want to share, they do everything they can to make sure you share everything whether you want to or not.

Never was this more evident than when Facebook started badgering me to fill in parts of my profile I had intentionally left out. I’d log in and it would ask me where I went to school. Not content with that it would ask me to fill in the dates. It wanted to know each and every book I’d read, movie I’d watched, place I’d travelled to, or band I’d listened to, what my political views are. Well, I am sorry Facebook, but that’s none of your business, nor is it the business of your advertisers.

Even if you manage to resist Facebook’s constant attempt to get you to part with more and more info, you’ll still probably end up sharing more than you’d like. This is because Facebook makes their privacy controls intentionally complex and hard to understand. And even if you do figure it out, they also designed it to make it easy for you to “accidently” set everything back to public because the control is not just a simple setting in one place; it appears on every post you make. If you change it once, it changes it for all future posts. No big deal you say? Then try uploading a new cover photo (cover photos are always public) and then watch as all of your future posts are mysteriously public again.

Facebook really doesn’t want you to quit.

More than once I have considered quitting Facebook, and each time I have failed to do it. Facebook intentionally makes it hard to quit. If you try to deactivate your account it presents you with a random sampling of your “friends” who are supposedly going to “miss” you. Yeah right. But it makes sure you know that you can come back at any time and your profile will reappear just were you left it.

Of course that’s not the real way you quit Facebook. That only hides your profile, it doesn’t delete it. The real way to quit his hidden deep in Facebook’s help docs, and the only way you’re likely to find it is through Google. If you choose this option it warns you ahead of time that what you are doing is permanent and that there is no going back, ever! Except that’s a lie because after you push the big red button they send you an email letting you know you have two weeks to change your mind. All you have to do is log in again and it will be like none of this ever happened.

It’s like a couple having a fight where one partner says, “if you walk out that door you aren’t ever coming back in!”, and as soon as the other one calls the bluff and walks out the door they get a phone call begging them to come home.

Facebook doesn’t want you or your data to leave them, and they’ll do everything they can to suck you back in if you try to leave.

Facebook is bad for your relationships.

Contrary to bringing people together and helping them communicate, Facebook is destructive to friendships and relationships.

Facebook causes you to know too much about your friends. In the real world we have filters on our speech, and we are aided by body language when we communicate. If you’re around a certain person and a topic comes up that they aren’t comfortable with, you’ll get an instant reaction from them and you’ll know not to go there with that person. Certain people don’t need to know certain things about you, and vice versa. Some friendships are shallow and it’s best if they stay that way.

In Facebook land this doesn’t happen. If you post something that upsets someone you won’t know until it’s too late. And sure Facebook gives you some control in regards to sorting between friends and acquaintances, but again they make it hard to use and hard to maintain. And even if it were all super simple and easy you can never escape the fact that textual communication is inherently prone to misunderstandings because without being able to see someone’s face and body language you can’t always be sure of their meaning. It’s just an unhealthy way to communicate. I had more than a few “battles” on Facebook which caused nothing but stress and anxiety because of a difference of opinion.

And what about the stuff other people post? I can’t tell you how many “friends” I lost all respect for because their actions on Facebook betrayed their stupidity, complete lack of integrity, poor reasoning skills, or just general un-likability. It kinds of sucks, sometimes it’s just better not to know.

The other thing Facebook makes difficult is the ending of friendships. We all grow in this life, some of us at different speeds than others, and all of us in different directions. Sometimes we discover that certain people in our lives no longer fit. In the real world you’d just stop seeing these people and they would gradually drift from your life, maybe without them even being aware of it. In Facebook land this doesn’t work because one way or the other they are going to realize something’s up. If you de-friend them they’ll know, and if you don’t they’ll continue to see your status updates and images of you spending time with other people and so on. And I don’t even think I need to mention the trouble that can develop if you keep your ex on Facebook. It results in messy, unhealthy relationships and even messier ends to them.

But what about your real world relationships with the people you do see? The people you know and love? Well those suffer too. I can’t even tell you how many times my fiancée and I have been lying in bed checking Facebook on our phones instead of interacting with each other or otherwise doing something healthy and useful like reading a book.

Facebook is about being shallow and lazy.

Let’s be honest. Facebook is the ultimate reflection of the banality and superficiality of our modern society. The Facebook audience wants a constant supply of cute kitten pictures and lame memes. And nothing else. If you dare to post anything that requires someone to use their brains or question their narrow minded viewpoints in any way or worse have to click through and spend a few minutes of their life reading or watching something enlightening instead of wasting their life on Facebook, prepare to have your posts ignored in the future at best, or at worst you might have a “well-meaning” friend try to talk some sense into you.

So if you have interests beyond cute kittens and celebrity gossip, and you aren’t particularly interested in shallowly and artificially “liking” the vacation and baby photos of people you barely know then there really isn’t much for you on Facebook.

Facebook has no purpose, for you anyway.

I know what you’re thinking: But Facebook helps me stay in touch with my friends!

No it doesn’t.

It helps you “stay in touch” with strangers who you would otherwise forget all about and not miss one bit. If they were really your friends you’d be keeping in touch with them by phone, text messages or even good ol’ fashioned email. If they were your friends you would be in possession of this contact info. Liking their photos and status updates and occasionally sending a message asking how they are and pretending you’re going to get together “sometime” is not friendship. It’s bullshit. I recently heard that the average person has only four real friends. That’s the average person! That means that some people have fewer real friends than that, maybe only one or two (which bring up another point, how many people end up feeling really bad about themselves because Facebook made them think they don’t have as many “friends” as other people?).

So if Facebook’s purpose isn’t to help you stay in touch with friends, then what is it?

To sell you stuff of course. But before that it’s to collect all your data and sell that to the people who want to see you stuff. It’s really quite sick if you actually stop and think about it.

Remember, if you aren’t paying for it, you’re the product not the customer.

Facebook can be dangerous to your employment.

It’s not as big a danger here in Canada where employers have to have a good, performance related reason to fire you, but in the U.S. where you can be fired at will for no reason whatsoever Facebook presents a real danger.

Did you go out to a party and act a little silly? Did you post something political and overly controversial? Did you complain about your boss or your company? Bam! Fired. Even if you maintain your privacy controls you still don’t really have control, and you have no way of knowing for sure what those controls do because Facebook changes them at will all the time.

What if you are looking for a job? Almost every employer will search for you on Google and dig through your social media profiles. What will they find? The problem is you don’t know because even if you are very careful, your still can’t control what others can post and then tag you in. Some employers even demand that you hand over your passwords. It’s heinous and disgusting, but it’s reality. The only way to fully avoid the problem is to just not be on Facebook at all, a choice more and more people are making.

Facebook is a huge waste of time, and it’s addictive.

It is, admit it. There is no bigger waste of time on this planet than Facebook. You log-on, you scroll through your feeds and discover all of the banal activities your “friends” are up to. You check your notifications to learn who liked what, or what stranger friend of a friend also commented on so-and-so’s status update that you didn’t really care about but absent-mindedly liked a few hours ago.

And you do this several times a day, every day, for no reason whatsoever. You do it first thing when you wake up. You do it on the bus ride to work. You do it on each and every one of your breaks. You do it when you get home, and you do it when you’re in bed at night.

It’s downright disgusting.

Facebook steals from you.

Have you read Facebook’s terms of service lately. I didn’t think so. Which is probably why you didn’t know that Facebook gave themselves the right to use any of those photos you have uploaded for whatever they want without any compensation to you? What if they don’t stop there? What if they decide they have the rights to use the words in your status updates too? It’s not out of the question that they might.

Before I decided to quit Facebook completely my plan was to just go through and delete everything I had on there. Except that’s impossible. Facebook only lets you delete items one by one.  When you have six years’ worth of stuff on there that’s several days’ worth of work. And even then you can’t be perfectly sure it’s a clean slate because there are so many different kinds of “items”, status updates, “likes”, photos you have been tagged in, etc.

Various people have developed tools to automate the deletion process, but none of the ones I tried worked very well, if at all. Facebook continuously updates to make sure these tools stop working.

Their system is designed to lock you in and make it impossible for you to control your own data. It’s repugnant.

Facebook is anti-social.

Before smartphones became ubiquitous, Facebook was relatively benign. Now however it’s a different story.

By staring down at your smartphone it is now possible to avoid any and all social interactions. Granted this is an issue with smartphones more than it is with Facebook as there are certainly many other activities I do on my smartphone when I could be social instead. But given that Facebook’s purported purpose it to encourage socialization, it seems particularly perverse to be checking Facebook while I am in line at Starbucks instead of making conversation with the barista and you know, being a human being.

Facebook is useless for business.

I know that some people will disagree with me, and certainly there are exceptions. Certain kinds of businesses can find their audience on Facebook. Lifestyle type business, bands, and other’s that are “fun” seem to do okay.

But I am going to go out on a limb and say they for most businesses Facebook is nothing more than a big, time-sucking joke and it’s only getting more so over time.

This was important for me to realize because one of the few reasons I was staying on Facebook was because I didn’t want to lose my business pages. As a web designer this was an especially tricky point for me as I know that a lot of my customers will expect a Facebook page, and if I don’t have a personal account I can’t admin business pages due to the design of Facebook’s system (lock-in, remember?).

But then I started reading up on the subject.  I learned that for every 200 “likes” your Facebook Page has only one of those people will actually interact with your page. Now when you consider how difficult it is to acquire “likes” for your page, combined with the fact that Facebook now only shows your pages updates to about 15% of the people who like it (unless you pay them lots of money) that means that to reliably have just one person interact with your page’s updates you need to have about 700 people who like your page. And that’s assuming having them interact with your page actually did anything, but it probably doesn’t.

But let’s just say you disagree and you think the time it took you to earn those 700 likes was all worthwhile. What do you to the next time Facebook changes the rules about how you can interact with them? What if they change the entire format of pages again and you finally decide it’s just not for you and decide to shut it down. Well good luck getting all those “likes” to follow you to wherever you go next. Facebook owns them, not you. Just like they own your entire page and get to dictate what you can do with it.

This is why I am astounded when so many small business people think they can get away with having just a Facebook page and no website. It’s a poor supplement to a website, but it’s an outrageously bad substitute for one.

All of the above are the major reasons why I ultimately decided to quit Facebook for good, but the number one reason why I quit Facebook is:

It was ruining my life.

Knowing too much about the people in my life wasn’t healthy. Discovering that people you know are feeble-minded dumb-asses and then getting into arguments with them isn’t healthy. Not interacting enough with the people who you do like and care about and who like and care about you because you’re busy checking Facebook on your smartphone is not healthy.

Facebook is not healthy.

Now please, if you’re still part of the matrix, take a moment to share this article on Facebook…

….because I can’t.

23 Comments

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23 Comments:

  • I agree 100%.

    I deleted my FB account about a year ago and have not looked back.

    Though it is annoying very occasionally when you come across a blog that you cannnot comment on unless you have a FB account! WTF? Facebook is not the internet people!

    Having said all that, Google are going very much in the same (evil) direction, but I can’t delete my Google account as I need that to make a living (AdWords management for clients)..

    :-)

    • I’m with you on Google! I maintain a Google+ account purely to take advantage of authorship (not that I’m convinced it’s actually useful…) But I have never made a post and don’t actively build my “circles”. And I don’t expect I ever will do either of these things.

      Luckily it seems most everyone else takes exactly the same approach to it.

  • Very good information and persuasive take on Facebook.

    I use it a lot and I do relate to using it to vent, which I also agree distorts my image to people. Most are surprised at the vast difference between my FB personality and the real me. I think it’s because they’re only seeing the joking and/or venting, not the bulk of my life. So your comments have resonated with me.

    Yes, it’s a big waste of time but it’s also a lot of fun, too.

    I’m not going to delete my account, but I am ready for a break too.

    • Everybody does things on their own time, or sometimes not at all. I contemplated quitting Facebook many times over but could never bring myself to do it.

      The again, I never really found it “fun”. Addictive? Entertaining? Yes, and sometimes, but never fun. Just a big waste of time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere doing more interesting and productive things.

      Cheers.

  • A few years ago I signed up on Facebook (with a different site) and I found it so intrusive, I never went back. Your statement about Facebook being all about selling is on target. The more Facebook knows about you, the more products they can push in your face. They’re sneaky too, making it impossible it seems to keep any info private. And using members in ads (without their knowledge) and without compensation.

    Plus I don’t like the idea of being tracked. From what I’ve been reading lately looks like Facebook is starting to lose steam…

      • I believe Facebook is losing steam and people are beginning to get fed up with it.

        Like all cool things – popularity is fleeting and ephemeral.

        I am not ready to delete my Facebook. But before I do, I imagine I’ll get contact information of my most important friends and acquaintances.

        Wald

        • I downloaded my archive before I shut it down, so I guess if I ever need to go digging for contact info that might help. I highly doubt I am going to need it though. I can’t think of a single person I ever legitimately interacted with on Facebook that I didn’t have real world connections with already.

  • Great post Jonathan! I agree “sometimes it’s just better not to know.” I’m staying on Facebook for now anyway because my real life and my online life are very interconnected. My tri team, my skeptics group, spoken word poetry community – they all post events and interesting info all the time – content that I want to keep up with. So for me, at least for now, FB has value. I will admit though, it’s hard not to get drawn into arguments and sometimes the views of friends and acquaintances throw me for a loop. I’m learning to just hit the “Hide this post” button and go on with my day. But I don’t fault you in the least for just tossing the whole dang thing.

    • Thanks Tori.

      I think the biggest problem with Facebook is that the medium is simply not conducive to real discussion. People consume Facebook in short bursts, and often, at least in my case, interact with it the same way. Behind every opinion/view there is usually an experience but Facebook isn’t a good place to share on that level. So we end up with these robotic and often intense discussions without the buffering effect of real face to face interaction. I think it’s a real mess.

      But I sympathize with wanting to stay on it too. I do worry I might miss out on things because of my decision to leave. On the other hand I think too many people actually end up isolated from their real friends because they get their “fix” on Facebook.

  • Hi Jonathan :)

    Yes this is an interesting Post of yours. I always take a break from FB every now and again as I think it is healthy for me. I am off FB at present. But I now think this time… unless FB changes a lot of “things” ….I too will not return. I have had no issues with friends or with posting except that I have discovered more and more … and I think it must be at least 3/4 of my friends…. have become paranoid as to what to put their name to. I am a very bland FB poster even among my friends ?? I think it is is because it is now too open, anything shared or thereby commented on leaves one wondering who or where the comments are going or being viewed by. I had one friend tell me “that they are very “clean on FB” Heck !! it is supposed to be social page among friends we should not have to think of silly things like being “clean” among friends. Quite honestly I have “picked up” lasting friends at airports :) and from Holidays abroad and we have become firm friends with loads in common. If I do not think I have much in common with someone than I do not share my FB with them. I do get a bit “fed up” with all the little religious posts and the moralising ones that tell you how to be or act tut ! this puts me off but that is not enough to make me leave. I view them as being my friends views so leave it at that and respect them with their views and just don’t respond. I used to have many likes and comments on my posts but no longer is the case as people on my page are just too paranoid about it being too out in the open and viewed publically. This is my feeling… FB has become boring for me because of this very thing .. I guess., as no one interacts any more as they used to . So this is my take on FB at present

    Regards, Dawn

    • I think that’s very insightful, Dawn. Facebook’s relentless chase after almighty buck has transformed it from a place to share and connect with friends to a place where every post has to be carefully considered.

      I don’t miss it, but the ubiquitous nature of Facebook is leaving me feeling a little left out! Most people act a little strange when they discover I’m not on FB anymore…

      ;-)

  • Excellent article on the reasons to leave Facebook (or as I call it, CrapBook) and very detailed! If only more people would realize this service is doing more harm than good, then we’d actually be getting somewhere. Facebook is fake, a pretend fairyland environment made to make us dumber! And, as for the “friends” I had on their, I’m sure none of them have noticed I left it. Why would they? I’ve never met anyone of them in real life, they were more like ‘acquaintances’.

    I also disliked how many people posted about their personal lives, this one guy I was “friends” with was always rambling on about his divorce. Seriously? Unbelievable.

    Facebook needs to go away.

    • I did have a couple of people notice that I left Facebook, one was a close “real” friend, and the other one was my mom.

      I don’t necessarily fault people for sharing their personal lives on Facebook, after all it is the supposed purpose of it. I did it myself on occasion. I think it demonstrates the human need to be able to share and connect with other people and how unavailable that is to a large number of people in our modern society. Facebook is a poor substitute by any measure but sadly, for many, it’s all they have.

      We need to do a major reversal here. The increasingly disconnected relationships between people, friends and strangers alike, likely has long term consequences that won’t be fully evident for many years.

      • I would like to point out that I also noticed you had left Facebook, but initially thought it was just a break. After realising there was a lack of intelligent posts, and I couldn’t handle another cat meme, I thought I’d find out where you were…

        Reading your post reminds me of why I take breaks from Lamebook, and makes me wonder why I come back. I’ve thought pretty much the same thing on most of your points, and sadly, not many others seem to understand.

        In your months away, have you experienced the judgemental reactions of ‘friends’ or acquaintances who are unable to understand why anyone would leave Facebook? Whenever I take breaks I get similar reactions to ‘I’m not on Facebook’ as I do to ‘I’m a vegetarian’. It’s odd.

        I think I’m due for a break from Facebook… Another step closer to maybe leaving for good. We’ll see…

        • Hey Ali!

          I saw your comment the day you posted it, but I was on my way to the Airport to catch a flight to Mexico so I didn’t have time to approve it and respond.

          I definitely get strange reactions from people when they find out I’m not on Facebook. Nothing major, just an incredulous look usually, or sometimes they ask why and I tell them straight up, no sugar-coating that I think Facebook is destructive to society and normal human relationships. Then they look at me like I’m crazy.

          A few people are positively happy that I’m not on Facebook anymore. They didn’t much appreciate my tendency to call out bullshit when I saw it and share politically incorrect truth that required them to use their brains (assuming they have them, which I seriously doubt they do).

          Jonathan

  • I’d say that’s the best post I’ve ever read on why one should leave Facebook.

    The timing was good as coincidentally, I deleted my account yesterday for good (well, except for the insane two-week waiting period).

    I did deactivate for two months to see what life was like and then came back for one month to see how it felt with fresh eyes. That month back ended yesterday.

    I can’t say it’s completely useless for me but my experience has been that only about 10% of posts and conversations there were good/worthwhile. 50% were pointless and a waste of time and 40% were downright stupid and brought out the worst in people.

    I agree with almost all your points but the addictive and time-wasting nature of FB is by far the strongest reason to leave.

    • Thanks John.

      I have seen many people mention that because people only show the best of themselves on Facebook it can cause you to feel bad in comparison.

      For me, it was the opposite. I found very frequently people showed the worst of themselves on Facebook. Myself included, in fact, because I had a bad habit of only using Facebook as a place to rant and vent about things that bothered me, whether mundane or political or otherwise. I realized it was creating an inaccurate and damaging image of who I was.

      The flip side of that is that Facebook caused me to learn things about some of my friends that caused me to lose respect for them completely, but not before causing me a great deal of unnecessary aggravation.

      • I appreciate your transparency. I have quit Facebook two or three times, but have been sucked back in again. (once was when my son went into Army basic training and they shared photos and updates ONLY on a facebook group) How could I not? For me, there are many reasons and one of them is a friend just committed suicide and by all accounts, she was “fine” by her activity on fb for the past month or so. It robs my time and I know part of that is a self-control issue on my part. For ME, its not God’s best in my life. There is good, better, and best in life. I want the best and being sucked in fb, mindlessly, is not the best. Anyway, great post and wanted to say people are still reading. Now, to start the process of getting my info off and deleted as much as possible off of fb. I do believe I will go through a “detox period”, but life will go on! Warm greetings from The South

        • The “detox period” is very real, and relapses are common, as you have experienced for yourself.

          But once you make it over that hump…

          Glorious freedom! And you wonder why the heck you ever cared about it.

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