This week I finally did it: I cancelled my Facebook account. I was very late in joining the FB legion, but – once in – I was in completely. I collected friends, groups, pages and events. I was fully enjoying virtual life. But somewhere deep inside it didn’t feel right. Why did I stop doing all these things I used to do? I used to make jewellery, work in my garden, write an awful lot, spend a lot time outside both on my own and with my horse. It seemed that it took me a lot of effort to get myself to do these things nowadays. I found myself more and more behind my screen, peering at the world as it was presented to me.
Honestly, I was doing quite okay, still had plenty of downtime. I didn’t have Facebook on my phone (on purpose) and when the computer was turned off I managed to steer clear of social media. Maybe it was also the amount of time I saw others spend on social media, which really made me realise the damage it does. It made me see how addicting Facebook is. It is made to be that way, consciously, to get people to return as often as possible. To make them feel like they need it.
Plenty of excuses
I felt the same way…
‘I can’t leave Facebook, most of the kids’ appointments are made via that medium’
‘I can’t leave Facebook, because then I won’t see all these events anymore.’
And there were plenty more excuses similar to those. Time passed and nothing changed. Until the newspapers confronted me with the consequences that my apparently innocent addiction had for my privacy. Sure, I knew most of it already. I never linked any apps to my account, except for Instagram – and that was already Facebook anyway. These namegames I would not play and I never used my Facebook account to log onto any other sites, because I do read the small print. But I started noticing that my homepage would display ads for stuff I had searched for outside of Facebook. Apparently they were keeping track even though I was using tracker blockers. How was that possible? Honestly, I am pretty dim when it comes to these kinds of technical issues, but I imagine that there apparently are ways to go around these tools, which makes honouring someone’s wishes to not be followed a kind of gentlemen’s agreement. And in that case it goes to show that Facebook is not exactly a gentleman.
Off with its head
I had enough, time to call it a day. And I did. It took me three days to cut all the virtual lines to myself and in the meantime I have deactivated myself. I now have to wait several weeks until Facebook really removes my virtual self. Which is annoying really, since it once again shows me that my wishes are not really important to this company.
You know what’s funny? It felt so GOOD to delete all that stuff. Almost as if I was cutting myself loose from restraining tethers. I am already looking forward to all the free time I will have to do loads of real, hands on stuff. And it altogether it will matter, because I right away binned the whole damn lot: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the works. I think life after Facebook will very productive. At the moment it is a bit weird that there is nothing to check on my computer. I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough. And if I do get a bit bored that might even be a good thing.
Room for quality time
I do wonder whether there are people missing me out there. People who are saying: ‘Gosh, shame that Emma’s no longer here. She always used to write such fun posts.’ I’ll only know from the people who I still see regularly in real life. I estimate that those include 10% of my virtual friends, tops. When it comes to that Facebook was one of these large parties that one would look forward to for weeks and that would turn out to be a bummer on the night itself, cos one would hardly really know any of the guests. I choose a cosy night around the kitchen table with a small group of friends, some snacks and a good glass of wine anytime. I have plenty of time now, so give me a shout if you’re up for it! Leave the social media at home, though. Now is the time for real contact.
Update: in the meantime – half a year down the road – I am back on Facebook. Turns out that it does have a lot of advantages as well, at least for an introvert like myself. I did manage to keep the upsides of my Facebook free life. I have become more selective in what I post and am very strict with myself when it comes to online time. For now that seems to work. What I do find annoying is that I only seem to see a small number of my friends on my timeline. If anyone has any advice on how to change that, please let me know…
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