The hashtag DeleteFacebook has been trending all week, in the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. I deleted Facebook in 2013. Here's what I found:
- I never once missed out on an opportunity. When friends saw that they couldn't 'invite' me to an event through Facebook, they invited me IRL.
- I never once missed out on the milestones that friends shared. When all of my friends started getting married and having kids, I was there. I didn't settle for pictures—I wanted to be right there with them in their special moment. I've spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms.
- No one ever thought I was crazy for doing it, in fact, people admired my decision. Many, many people told me they want to delete Facebook but feel they can't.
- I no longer feel the need to craft a carefully planned picture of my life via the News Feed. I don't have to show off for people—my life, like everyone else's, is a mixture of gorgeous and mundane moments.
- My brain feels less cluttered. Om Malik shared this article yesterday, quoting Dave Morrow, "I would always have a bunch of background static, or conversations going in my head." I felt the same way.
- I found kindred spirit with others who have deleted Facebook.
- I learned many valuable lessons about addiction.
- I'm no longer a target of the massive surveillance machine.
- In many ways, regrettably, I replaced Facebook with Instagram. I've since deleted Instagram as well, and began enjoying all of the above once more.
If you need more convincing, read "The Case Against Facebook." I think Vox lays out a decent argument for ditching the platform. Read Derek Siver's post about deleting Facebook, found here. It really put things into perspective for me, that Facebook is simply going the way of MySpace.
Facebook’s DNA is that of a social platform addicted to growth and engagement. At its very core, every policy, every decision, every strategy is based on growth (at any cost) and engagement (at any cost). More growth and more engagement means more data — which means the company can make more advertising dollars, which gives it a nosebleed valuation on the stock market...
Jon Gruber of Daring Fireball said:
It’s the same reason why Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are overrun with state-backed troll accounts from Russia. Engagement leads to growth, growth is all that matters, and if the trolls and fake news are engaging, better not to look for them. The oft-quoted Upton Sinclair quote fits perfectly: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
They have to keep us engaged at any cost. They have to keep us addicted. We're losing our agency, our humanity to them as they get better and better at hypnotizing us with the glowing screen.
This idea of becoming human again… I've been thinking about it so much in recent weeks.
When you introduce yourself, what's the first thing that you say? What's in your Twitter bio? When people ask you what you do, do you have a one-word answer? "Doctor," "Lawyer," "Manager," "Architect," "Foreman," "Sculptor," "Baker."
Let's all drop the titles and become people again. Human.
Instead of "What do you do?" let's resolve to ask, "What are you passionate about?" or "What makes you tick?" or "What do you think about first thing in the morning, what keeps you up at night?" These are questions that humanize us, while "What do you do?" is a question that categorizes us, sorts us by our usefulness to the world (resigns us to the status of a tool), and sometimes polarizes us.
Facebook, too, categorizes us, sorts us, and polarizes us by segregating us into groups that become our echo chambers, fragmenting our communities.
Conscious removal of ourselves from social media, along with fasts from technology, will humanize us. Jaron Lanier, the father of virtual reality, said, "I am unhappy with the way that digital technology is influencing the world, and I think the solution is to double down on being human."