May 9 is a special day for all Americans. That is in part because I, a great defender of American liberty, was born on May 9th.
Beyond being my day of birth, May 9, 2016 will have a special place in my heart as the day I (basically) left Facebook for good. It was a bit of a last minute decision, I sat at my laptop along with my morning coffee, ready to start a day of bike rides and relaxation, and reflexively found myself clicking, “Privacy,” “Account,” “Deactivate my account.” (or whatever combination of menus leads to deactivation.
What does deactivation mean?
My photos are still on Facebook. My friends are still on Facebook. I can still use Facebook messenger to keep in touch with my friends. I can still use Instagram.
Doesn’t sound like I’m missing a lot.
What is Facebook Good For?
I kept asking myself that exact question. Day after day I would go online and read about some of my, at least on Facebook, friends complain about Donald Trump, or fraternity men, or make some sort of snide remark about how they would unfriend anyone who wasn’t “open-minded” or respectful.
I tried to remember back to when I started my Facebook account, back when it was still predominantly college students and some high schoolers about to enter college. What was great about this thing in the first place?
Well it was the place to see pictures from the previous night’s festivities or an award ceremony you attended. The first real venue to share increasingly popular digital photos (R.I.P. Kodak).
It was the place to share silly notes with friends on their walls, or to make some sort of major life announcement. . . then people got carried away.
Little by little, Facebook began to creep me out.
First, there are tons of privacy concerns. Facebook literally maintains entire biographies of people’s day to day lives, beliefs, likes, families and friends without any of us really realizing it. That’s just the conspiracy theorist in me, why did I really hate Facebook?
A Place For Friends, Now a Place For Fights
It seems now as if Facebook is all about news (or news that it deems relevant). Friends are sharing news, and there is a constant battle to one-up another.
“Happy to announce my new job” – “So excited to present at XYZ school of the arts this Monday” – “Yoga has made me such a better person than you” – “I’m cool because I don’t care about the world, I just post pictures of coffee mugs”
It was like all of my friends were trying to formalize a brand on Facebook, and none of those brands resembled anything that I knew those friends to be. It was depressing, and studies say that Facebook can be depressing for this very reason.
I noticed far too many, “I’m unfriending people who. . . ” posts, which goes entirely against the point of Facebook, sharing photos and love with friends.
Facebook has become this terrible place of public scrutiny, where people openly tear apart people they know personally because of differing beliefs. I mean, I’m no fool to know that some things I post on this website offend a select group of highly sensitive crusaders, but when did disagreement mean that all someone has to offer as a retort is a “this guy is stupid” post on Facebook? (thanks for sharing the link though!)
Life After Facebook
Interestingly, everyone “can’t” quit Facebook. They need it for work, or to stay in touch with their friends, or to see pictures. But most of us don’t need it for work, it simply adds a layer of convenience once you get through all of the “Make America Great Again”/”America is Already Great” posts.
I think Instagram is a far less B.S. way of building a brand around pictures of and with friends than Facebook.
Better yet, the friends who want to stay in touch with me can still do so via Facebook messenger. Suddenly I’m hearing less from people I don’t care about, and who wouldn’t really care about me were it not for some status update that upset or excited them.
I don’t have to pretend to care about people’s day-to-day accomplishments. But best of all?
Quitting Facebook Makes You a More Genuine Friend
You may be able to tell from this tribute to Fountainhead, but I hate chumminess. I hate when people use others to get ahead. That includes utilizing another’s life events to make conversations or implying that you have a deeper connection or understanding with or of someone than you genuinely do.
My conversations have improved, because I need to ask people about what’s happening in their life. I’m not expected to have read it on Facebook. I’m either curious enough to ask or those image-boosting life events are removed from my conversation. Everything I have to share about myself (which isn’t much), is news.
The amount of gossip I can take part in is reduced, and conversations suck way less.
“Oh, what have you been up to?”
“Didn’t you see my post about my new job on Facebook?”
“I don’t have a Facebook, how do you like your new job?”
See. . . social excellence at its best.
On a related note, I also quit my personal Twitter account on that day, which means that I only need to tweet through the lenses of FraternityMan.com (@FraternityReads) and another account geared toward politics. No friends, just news.
Maybe life is better communicating only with people you care about, and about things you care about, than the sensory overload that is Facebook.com.
P.S. You can still “like” Fraternity Man on Facebook 😉