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.
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.