You’ve probably seen a growing number of people tweeting #DeleteFB or #DeleteFacebook since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018. And they all have their own reasons. I’ll cover a few I understand here in hopes that it will help you make the best decision for yourself.
Digital minimalism and intentional expenditure of time
We’re a trend-chasing society. Someone comes out with something cool and fun (TikTok, for example). We sign up to be a part of the hype. But we still have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. And before you know it, you’re spending 80% of your screen time switching between social media apps and different online communities, many of which have overlap in membership.
Then you fall behind in responses. You switch from app to app just to stay up-to-date on each feed. And as your time is stretched to its limit, your mental health is strained and what started as fun begins to feel more like an obligation. An obligation that creates profit for others (see “Advertising”). You’re at work, on the subway, in your car and have to check your notifications.
In business, it’s good practice that you don’t add more tools unless you’re also getting rid of something or adding resources to manage that new tool. Why not apply that to your personal life? Could just two social networks provide you with valuable connections and add to, not detract from, your daily life?
Consider new parents about to welcome their first child into their family. They decide to delete Facebook to invest more in the “actual moment” and less in the “virtual moment.” And heck, their parents might actually visit their grandchild instead of just liking the photos they post.
What would your life be like with less social media? What if you spent half the time you spend on Facebook writing a book? Having lunch with a friend or taking a walk with your spouse? Exercising more? Taking a moment to meditate and just “be” before your start your day?
Social media takes the work out of being a good friend. We don’t have to ask how someone is, or express interest in their lives because an algorithm distributes updates on which we can simply click upon to express sentiment. We feel a sense of accomplishment by having “interacted with” so many people in a short period of time.
But virtual clicks, badges, stickers, likes, frowns, etc. are not tangible products, just as e-cards can never carry the same sentiment as a hand-written card that took time and intention to select, write out and mail.
Disliking a political post does not write or call your representatives to affect change.
Liking a post does not let someone know you’ve been there too, and they’re not alone.
Your text comment is kind, but your voice and its inflection and the time you intentionally took to call is remembered.
Have we forgotten how to be genuine friends because algorithms make us feel connected and concerned? Have “likes” replaced our feeling of human connection? How were people friends before Facebook?
One more question: What if you deleted Facebook?
Get to know YOU again. #DeleteFacebook
Addiction and Anxiety
- You get in bed for the night and unlock your phone.
- Ah, Jerry got a new car. Like.
- This cat is CRAZY! Lol. Like.
- You pull your phone out at lunch.
- You glance at it at stoplights. Or while driving (stop that, by the way).
- At family gatherings
- During commercials
- At meals
- In the bathroom
- Waiting in line at a store
You go to lunch with a friend, and you know everything they’ve been up to already. “Saw you got a new car, Jerry! Looks cool!” But remember when Jerry could have rolled up to lunch in his new ride and surprised you in person? Before we stole those special moments from one another and dulled real-life reactions because we decided instead to blast every bit of news to a general channel?
Jerry doesn’t get a real “first-time” reaction, and you don’t get to share that moment with him. Nothing is “news” anymore, and discussion about “what’s up” becomes discussion of what you see on social media. Perhaps this contributes to seeing less of each other in person because you “have nothing to talk about.”
Nothing is 'news' anymore, and discussion about 'what's up' becomes discussion of what you see on social media. Perhaps this contributes to seeing less of our friends in person because we have nothing new left to talk about.… Tweet This
To stay in touch with friends from afar, you don’t have a lot of options. Social media does, at least, allow us to stay up-to-date with those we may not see again. I’m suggesting, however, that you don’t let social media become a 100% replacement for being a genuine friend.
Intentionally take time to call someone, send a real card (not a “Happy Birthday”-because-Facebook-said-so message), take a road trip to visit, go to their kids’ concert or invite them to meet up at the state fair.
Social media is a real addiction. Not just in consuming, but in posting as well. We feel we have to share a picture of EVERY meal we consume. All the cats. Throw in the kids, the trees, the new shirt, etc. and before you know if you’re pulling out your phone on vacation to take a picture of the mountains, snap the pic, get back in the car and drive away.
Wait – did you really get to see the mountains? Did you take a moment to breathe and really appreciate the majestic beauty?
Social media takes the wonder out of natural and non-virtual life. We begin to care more about sharing updates than living in the moment. We want those likes, not those memories. We irrationally fear that if it wasn’t posted on social media, it didn’t happen. Or that if it’s not included in our “end-of-year” wrap up photo collage, the year somehow had less value.
Try capturing moments and memories in new ways. Scrapbooking, real photo albums, framed photos on the wall. Heck, get a digital picture frame that changes occasionally so that you can share moments with real-life visitors. Take up drawing, writing, journaling, painting, blogging, etc. There are a number of ways to capture inspiration and memories, and then many mediums through which you can express and share those with others.
Facebook, and social media in general, is an anxiety-inducing concept we voluntarily subscribe to. We invite pressure into our lives.
- The pressure we feel in having to accept a friend request from someone we went to high school with.
- The anxiety brought on by games with timed missions, or deals that expire
- That we pressure ourselves to always have our phone on us to capture whatever might come up.
- The anxiety of messages you haven’t responded to, or feel guilty about.
- The feelings of inadequacy for not being skinny enough, pretty enough, etc. when all we see are “happy,” healthy people posting pictures of themselves in optimal lighting at the best time of their day.
- The feeling that we aren’t normal, because while others have these “happy” lives we’re inundated with on the newsfeed, we’re struggling with depression, anxiety, weight gain, aging, disease, surgeries, legal trouble, etc.
- When we do post something happy, we let that joy be diminished by the response the post gets. If we only get 2 likes, or if a certain individual only liked but didn’t comment. We experience a joy in “real life” and submit it to social media to then be decreased in value
- The pressure we feel in having to post content for friends and followers, or to share an update before it’s irrelevant
These anxieties and problems are not exclusive to Facebook – but they’re multiplied by the number of networks to which you belong.
Advertising and user privacy
As a blogger, I get it. Ads are necessary for survival. It costs money to control a domain, mailing lists, run promotions, create graphics, etc.
But Facebook makes money when users pay attention to data. Their company centers around profiting from putting ads in front of you, not about providing a “free service.” So an opportunity to get, and keep, you in front of their app or website is an opportunity to make you a revenue-generating employee.
But when your personal data, reactions to post, sentiment of content, etc. is being used regularly to better-target ads, it gets to be a bit much.
Every quiz you take, every game you play, every article you post is data.
Every photo you like, every page you follow, every life event you share is data.
Oh, you’re engaged? Here, have a healthy slew of wedding ads. You can get your tux, caterer, venue, invites and all the decorations from the ads Facebook serves you in response to the data you provide simply by using the platform.
Had to know which Backstreet Boy you were and took that quiz? Many of those quizzes require an email address or access to your account before you can take said quiz. If I may be a bit dramatic, was it worth selling your soul to find out if you’re AJ McLean?
If you play Facebook games, you probably get to see ads all the time before, during, and after playing. You’re making money for others while harvesting your digital crops and building that steel mill you need to complete the final task for that mission that ends at 11:59pm tonight or allthoseothertasksyoudidwerefornothing! These games have gotten you to come back on a regular basis by implementing timed missions and opportunities that expire for intangible rewards that will definitely not pay for your groceries this week.
Facebook is not alone in ads based on your behaviors. Ad targeting is used by Google, Amazon, Twitter, etc. and is based on either your demographics (you’re over 40) or your behaviors (visited a certain site). These targeted ads can change the way we feel about and see ourselves. With all ad-targeting, if you’re signed into a service, they have more data from which to extrapolate relevant ads to you. If you’re not signed in (like Google), it’s based on as much information they can get on you based on your location and behaviors. So if you find targeted ads unsettling, consider how much data you’re freely providing to various platforms.
Now let’s talk about risk of breach. Consider all the times you clicked “Allow” when an app, quiz or game asked for your permission to access your data. Any one of them could suffer a data breach. The more times you click “allow,” the more you increase your risk of being involved in data theft. Facebook proved through its Cambridge scandal that it not only won’t protect you, but will neglect to even alert you that you’ve been affected if your data does get stolen or misused.
It’s one thing to allow a service to use your data, but quite another to have it stolen and used to impersonate you in loan applications, purchases, emails, illegal activity, etc.
It gets to the point where it’s better to pay actual money for services than to sell your personal information in exchange for using a service. Perhaps we’re approaching a time where “Terms of Service” will be taken more seriously.
Value and protect your data. #DeleteFacebook
Some people, including myself, made a self-care choice to leave what had become a toxic digital environment. I was regularly electing to participate in or scan threads where my friends were being insulted, attacked, bullied, etc. for their opinions. Sometimes it was targeted at me, but nothing irritated me more than when someone came after a loved one. This hit its peak around the 2016 election, and I deleted Facebook soon after.
- You grow personally when you seek to understand others’ points of view
- You should surround yourself with people who are different from you
But draw the line when that desire to grow from others becomes a drain on your mental health and energy. You have nothing to learn from bullies and bigots, and will be better off without their rattling.
Why not just unfriend the bad apples, Nate?
Even if you’re not friends with these kinds of people, they show up in comments. And screenshots. And news articles. Hatred gets great digital real estate. I was tired of letting it rent mine.
But they’re on Twitter too, Nate
Yes, they’re everywhere. But I feel better about my ability to actually mute and block on Twitter than I did on Facebook.
Ultimately, I made a decision that allowed me to check one less app, spend literal days less each year on social media, get back into blogging more regularly and enjoy the “now.” I’ve been able to focus more on my personal and professional development and even wrote a book. I use only Twitter and LinkedIn regularly and am content with the relationship I have with the services.
In the end, Facebook is just like someone with whom you share a relationship. They take advantage of you, they don’t stand up for you when you’re wronged, and they manipulate what information you get and influence how you feel daily. Is that a relationship you wish to maintain?
Re-invest in your mental health. #DeleteFacebook
Don’t fear reclaiming your life and investing in your well-being. You owe no apologies to anyone for leaving. You owe no explanation.
You owe nothing to nobody, except self-love and acceptance to yourself.
Don't fear reclaiming your life and investing in your well-being. You owe no apologies to anyone for leaving. You owe no explanation. You owe nothing to nobody, except self-love and acceptance to yourself. #DeleteFacebook Tweet This