How I gave up Facebook and why I don’t regret it.

Roughly a month ago I gave up Facebook.  Let me clarify: I did not delete my account.  I deactivated it.  The difference is important to help understand my actions and for anyone that is considering taking a break from FB but may not want to delete the Facebook world entirely (or “commit facebook suicide” as others have called it).  the difference is explained in decent detail here.

Flash back to early 2005.  I was working at a .edu and signed up for Facebook to help check out and evaluate student employee applicants (yes, people actually do this). After that, the account mostly sat idle until around 2007 when others started adding me.  From there it just snowballed into an unwieldy free-for-all  social quagmire.  It became time consuming.  It became far too much like work to troll through everything that was there.

I will fully admit that some of this was my fault.  I blindly added pretty much everyone that sent me a friend request.  Before I knew it, I had FB friends that were not even really casual acquaintances in high school….and I’d been out of high school for 15 years at the time.  I had “friends” that were people that I did not even know.

Essentially, it became work. But it was an addictive kind of work.  It was far more addictive than I had realized, actually.  I would habitually check it to “see what was up” with a group of people, a large percentage of whom I did not really even know.  Sure, there was family on “the book” as well as many close friends.  The thing about that is, I can find out what is going on with them or what they’re doing by actually seeing them.ThumbsDown  Or calling them on the phone.  Or via email.  And will by far more personal.  …it just won’t be as convenient and condensed into a single place.

I tried pruning the list but it was just too out of control.  It needed a controlled burn, but I was never really able to come to terms with that.  So I let it continue to grow out of control.

I came fairly close to giving up on it a few years ago, I was far too busy with work and family to spend any time on it but I never deleted, deactivated tended to it in any way.  After a while without it I found myself looking more and more at it again.  I made a vain attempt at controlling the visibility of stuff to a select few.  That half worked.

Then facebook decided to change the way it displayed things.  This was very annoying to me (and many others) and was more or less the last straw for me.  Playing with the security controls led me to the elephant in the room.  Facebook’s privacy policy.  Have you ever read it?  Probably not.  The words “transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” are no fun.  I believe there are ways to opt out, but honestly, I didn’t feel I should have to do that.  Now it really was work.  I don’t feel comfortable dealing with a service that I don’t read the privacy policy for.  Yes, I’m that guy.

* Yes, I use google products.  Yes, I read their policy

I let it go.

And now we arrive at a month ago.  I was traveling for work and did a facebook update.  I got a few emails from them indicating abnormal behavior, I had been changing attributes of my account while coming from different address space (which I believe is very good security policy, actually).  I did not want to deal with it, so, on a whim, I decided to deactivate the account.

Done. Easy. Gone(ish).

It’s now been a month and I cannot express how different it is.  No updates.  No checking in on people I don’t need to see and barely know.  No time vortex or compulsive facebook app phone checking.  No hearing about people’s politics, religion, weird ailments or plans for the weekend.  No hearing about random sports team and a play that happened that I don’t care about.

Free.

In a month, though, I’ve noticed a few things.  Facebook auth is everywhere.  Of course it is.  They want to know (just like google and twitter) where you go online, what you do, etc.  It makes sense.  I actually like the OAuth stuff.  It makes things convenient.  I no longer have that option with a FB account.

Many, many, many companies make product announcements on facebook.  I can not see those, either.  I can clearly live without them, but they are convenient.

I don’t get to see updates from family.  This part is a bummer but my wife is still on there so I get them by proxy.  I could probably do without and force email correspondence if I really wanted to.

Overall, I can say that I really don’t care to turn it back on.  If I ever do, a purging of pretty much everyone but family will directly follow, but I find it unlikely that I’ll even do that.

Only time will tell if I enable it again, but I have no current plans to do so.

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