Escape Facebook

Renegade freak that I am, I deactivated my Facebook account last week.

Life is better without it. Already I feel calmer, happier, no longer irritable or twitchy. I bloody knew coffee and tea were nothing to do with that! Sorry I doubted you, oh lovely cuppa.

You’re all your own bosses, but I’d urge you to leave Facebook too. Read our happiness editor’s thoughts on the subject if need a further nudge.

Rather pathetically, I hesitated for about three weeks before finding the courage to click “deactivate.” I kept turning the possible consequences over and over. Would I become a full-on social outcast? Would I lose precious connections to the past? Is there actually something transcendent to be said for participating in the social network, even if it really is a glorified advertising scam?

I made sure I had alternative contact details for people I didn’t want to lose touch with. In doing so, I was strict about who I’d take with me: part of my reason for leaving Facebook was to shed the 250 people I don’t have any meaningful relationship with. I was only in touch with those people in the hopes that they were “potential future friends” or as egotistical social trophies, neither of which is healthy or right. Maybe I’ll reconnect with these people again one day, but in deliberate and organic circumstances.

I also downloaded my “information” before leaving. I only wanted my photographs but the download also contains old messages and posts. I had a quick look at these and, oddly enough, the first to catch my eye was a friend’s public declaration that he’s “winding up his Facebook account.” This message was about seven years old and the fellow in question is still on Facebook today, posting embarrassing status updates around the clock. This was the final nudge I needed!

Doubtless, it’ll be a pain in the arse for a while because almost everyone’s on Facebook, making it a super-convenient directory of humanoids (a “Face Book” even), but ubiquity is just another thing to dislike about it. Facebook is humongous while small is beautiful.

Not that it’s essential to be on a social network at all, but an appealing Facebook replacement might be Ello, a burgeoning ad-free, neatly-designed alternative. It doesn’t come from greedy, world-dominating Silicon Valley but from a bike shop in friendly Burlington: a town I’ve been to and which struck me as lovely.

Ello seems fated to become the betamax of social media: superior to its competitor but failing to win popular traction. But it doesn’t matter. It’ll work for the people who use it. A social network doesn’t need approval from everyone to work. Invite your ten best friends to Ello–the people you actually want to hear from instead of the 300-strong rolodex your Facebook has become–and it’ll work for you. It doesn’t matter what the majority are up to.

In any event, escaping Facebook has been an end in itself. It feels good to have let go. I feel like I’ve passed a gallstone or something.

I’ll now get news from less-dubious reliable sources, accidentally click fewer Daily Mail links, expose myself to less anxiety-producing litter, and talk to friends in more personal ways.

Here’s Tom Hodgkinson on the subject:

Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money out of friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries and then sell [crap] to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

14 Responses to “Escape Facebook”

  1. I too left Facebook. I’d already read Tom Hodgkinson’s ‘We want everyone’ when I made the decision. It was a wrench to begin with as it almost felt like I was excluding myself from something important. If i can liken it to smoking, it was tough to give up but i’m now reaping the benefits. I don ‘t miss it, i’m enjoying my privacy and i’ve thrown my not inconsiderable weight into real relationships rather than the fake ‘see how many friends I have’ culture of Facebook. I hope others also see the light and leave this ghastly greedy monster just as I dis.

  2. What-Ho Stevyn. Good essay of Tom’s eh? It weighed on my mind for ages before I actually did anything about it — exactly for the reason you just said, fear of missing out on something big. In a way, Facebook is the new smoking but, strangely, far more boring.

    Just added you at Ello!

  3. Stevyn Colgan says:

    Indeed it is. I’ve always been pretty careful about putting details of my nearest and dearest online. Terrifies me to see the way that people are handing over their right to privacy with no thought for the future. How can we argue against prying and information gathering if we’re voluntarily handing it over on a plate? I’m told it’s already common practice among some employers to check out someone’s Facebook page before job interviews. Suddenly those off-duty drunken moments that have no relation to the job whatsoever become an issue. I’m no conspiracy theorist … but this can’t end well.

  4. kate says:

    just found your site through one of those rambling google searches that led down paths so delightfully twisty that who knows where they started and it doesn’t appear to matter 🙂

    you had me at “deactivated my Facebook account”. . .

  5. Welcome! Stay! Take off your shoes! Hey, take off your pants!

  6. Arthur says:

    Haha good stuff Robert! In my opinion FB is becoming less relevant, twitter and instagram seem to be getting more important. Along with snapchat.

  7. chrisBo says:

    I’m not on FB, left 5 years ago and I love how people find it odd and strange that i’m not willing to divulge all and sundry on a global data mining experiment.

    Not sure how Twitter, instagram etc..are getting more important! why are they important?

  8. Drew Gagne says:

    Having recently replaced my credit card due to fraudulent charges (mattresses in Florida and jewelry in Toronto), and having received yesterday an invoice of $1,103 from FedEx for the nefarious activities of my evil twin (someone pretending to be me is sending who-knows-what from Toronto and Salt Lake to Hong Kong), I’m once again reconsidering my online exposure. I applaud all people who buck the trend and turn their backs on the “must have” technological SHITE that is being peddled to us.

    2015: email, Skype, Paypal, cash.

  9. Deactivation for now, yes.

  10. Briony says:

    Still an addict if you keep an emergency fag in the kitchen drawer…

    Put your Big Boy Pants on and permanently delete it!

  11. I know, I know! It’s not that kind of situation though, I promise. I was never addicted to Facebook.

    Not deleting the account immediately is simple caution. I don’t yet know all the effects of quitting. For example, there could be websites or applications I could be locked out of if I used Facebook authentication to sign up. I’ll go in for permanent deletion eventually but only after some months of ascertaining that it’s safe to do so.

  12. Xaime says:

    I left Facebook years ago, before it became what it is now. I never liked it really, first I thought it was a nice idea, I mean, in theory it’s nice to get in touch with old friends and colleagues… But soon enough I realize that in practice this thing didn’t work for me at all. One day some guy from my past adds me as a friend and said “hello, it’s been a long time” and I reply, “yes, indeed, how are you?” He says “fine” and that’s it, nothing more to say… That type of things made me think that if you don’t call or write to someone from your past, maybe it’s because you just don’t need them in your life, neither they need you of course. I try to be in touch with people I care about, the other ones, well I don’t really care, if we didn’t get a strong friendship when we first meet it must be that we aren’t really friends,and that’s ok, I don’t really need 200 “fiends” I couldn’t manage my time to care about all of them besides my family and myself!. I also definitely don’t need to know where are they right now or who is his new girlfriend, I only want to know this information about my closest friends and family and for that I don’t need Facebook. And then there’s the commercial unethical part of the monster… That’s just scary dudes.

  13. […] with the founders of the company (both on and offline) is an added bonus. My thoughts eco that of The New Escapologist when discussing their own disconnect from […]

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