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Why I Quit Facebook

Source: Commentary

Date: Sep 04, 2012

why i quit facebookIt’s now been one year since I closed my personal Facebook account and quit using that company’s service.  In other words, I’ve been Facebook-free for over a year. Ironically, I still have to maintain a single FB account placeholder that allows me to keep the JSN Facebook business page. I may be closing that as well one of these days.  I’ve already removed the links and references to it away from JSN.  But, for kicks and giggles (and for old time’s sake), I’ll broadcast this article on the JSN Facebook account as well.

Looking back, and having a year to reflect on being Facebook-free, I must tell you that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  Like eliminating smoking or heroin, you won’t realize how much better you are without Facebook until you’ve had it out of your life for a while. 

Here’s what you can expect if you no longer use Facebook:

  1. You get your time back.  This is a big one.  You don’t realize just how much of a time-suck Facebook is.  According to recent data, the U.S. population collectively spends an average of 6 hours and 33 minutes on the site monthly. And what a waste of time that is when you think about it and/or reflect on all the minutes you spent checking all the wall updates. The proliferation of mobile devices and intermediate random payoffs (like aimlessly pulling the lever on a slot machine over and over) are responsible for this behavior.  The minutes you spend ‘checking Facebook’ start to add up to hours.  Hours add up to days, and before you know it, you look back and wonder where all your time went.  Time that you’ll never get back.
  2. You feel better about yourself.  Facebook is nothing more than a ‘best-of’ or ‘highlights’ compilation reel of people’s lives.  The very nature of it breeds narcissism more than any other invention in human history.  Of that, I am absolutely positive.  It’s especially sad what it’s doing to children these days.  There is something very Orwellian 1984 when I see someone’s Facebook profile page.  They all look the same, with the standard-issue profile photo area, snapshot info, interests, and timeline.  Even down to the silly ‘Born’ info at the bottom.  Everyone is reduced and consolidated into to a single online identity page----with all their thoughts, memories, locations, and photos stored and managed by a single U.S. corporation.  Man, that creeps me out.
  3. You’ll have better interaction with people that you actually care about.  When people do see you (as in, like, um, in person), they will not have already pre-read the highlights reel of your life.  You’ll have great stories and experiences to share with them.  You’ll be interested in how they are doing.  In short, you will notice that you plug in to fewer people, but they are the people who matter most to you.  Facebook can, and often does, represent the bare minimum effort one can bother to make to still be 'friends' with someone.  No thanks.
  4. You’ll sleep better.  No more privacy concerns.  No more wondering why Person X unfriended you and if Person X is still friends with so-and-so.  And no more convergence of work and personal life into your ‘wall’.  You’ll have the two nicely separated, as they should be.

Quitting Facebook is not an easy task to do these days.  In fact, it’s quite a challenge. However, once you get past that first week, it does get a lot easier and you won’t feel like you are missing out on so much.  Actually, if you really think about it, if something becomes so difficult to quit, then that’s a problem in and of itself.

Let me be clear: I still use and enjoy social media.  I just dislike Facebook.  I still interact on social media a lot, but in a much different way now.  I share articles on my own web site (yeah, I love getting familiar with my own www space again, imagine that!).  Instead of one big mega-Facebook account, I choose to participate in smaller, but more targeted and specialized social media interest accounts, blogs, discussion groups, and photo sharing.  But they are kept separate and distinct from my personal life.  I’m totally into photography and am able to interact with photographers all over the world.  It’s very cool for that.  I think the problem with social media lies with how personal you let it become.  Keep social media at arm’s length and away from interactions with close friends and family, and you’ll find a good balance.  And keep it away from work.  Nothing is more demeaning and silly than seeing work colleagues bickering back and forth amongst each other on a Facebook page like idiots.

One thing I did that helped myself become Facebook-free was to set up a Picasa account to share photo albums with family.  Not being able to share photos on Facebook was one of the biggest deterrents to my wanting to leave their service.  Problem solved.  And I like the features much better on Picasa anyhow.

Last year, people told me I was nuts for leaving Facebook. They actually got upset.  It was the same emotional reaction as if I said that I'm packing my family up and moving to Mogadishu. 

Looking back now (a year later), I can honestly say that I had no idea what a good decision it turned out to be.  Or just how right I was.


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