After months of trying to decide if and how I wanted to leave Facebook, I finally pulled the plug last night. I didn't even bother to download my 10 years of data. I will add that you don't just quit Facebook when you click that button to delete the account. You get a grace period of about a month so I can come crawling back and reopen the account and not lose everything.

I figured I would run into an issue with Spotify because my login was through Facebook. I decided to delete the Spotify account and start over. It's no big deal. I don't follow, don't have followers, and don't have playlists. I'm a casual user that listens while I work. It feels good to have a clean slate now. Other than Spotify, I'm curious about what else will break. Maybe nothing. It's possible I'm fretting over nothing.

One thing I didn't think about was I am supposed to meet with a friend in Peoria this weekend and we were communicating through Facebook. Whoops. However, this morning she texted me to make sure she still had my phone number. So that will work out fine.

I've been worried about quitting because there are still things I like about Facebook. I like the events and groups feature. However, I did it anyway and I'll have to figure out some alternatives.

The Road to Quitting

I can't say it was one thing that made me want to quit. I had sort of a love/hate and unhealthy relationship with the site. I liked to vent about problems I was having for a long time. For the most part, I gave that up. Firstly, I feel I have an unhealthy relationship with the site and probably default to scrolling through when bored. Secondly, many of the people I'm "friends" are not really friends. My boyfriend is on it but I see him every day. Many are people I went to high school or college with. I honestly just don't communicate with them much these days. Some were fans of my art and photography but other than that I have no real connection to them. Some people I do like don't use Facebook anymore. All in all, I can think of maybe a handful of people I'd like to stay in touch with.

A big reason why I quit is I don't trust Facebook and I don't like them as a company. I think they are unethical and generally, I think social media is a cesspool of negativity, trolls, toxic politics, cons, fake news, and is a waste of my time. It's a monster that is out of control and I don't think it can be fixed. I don't think Facebook is about some idealistic idea of "connecting people", "connecting the world" to make the world a better place. It's about collecting data and using me to generate money from advertisements. I have no idea how they are using my data or protecting my privacy because I don't trust them to be honest or do the right things. Every day it seems like there's a new scandal, a new lie, another data breach, more spying, defying rules, and stories of bad characters (individuals, companies, governments) weaponizing the platform to manipulate and cause chaos.

In the end, I've had enough.

My Ten Years on Facebook

I wasn't new to social media when I joined Facebook. I used Friendster and then dumped that for MySpace around 2004. I used MySpace until 2009. I also met my boyfriend through MySpace. I wasn't an early user of Facebook because I wasn't in college and until 2009 (I think), it was only open to those that were in school. I probably transitioned to Facebook as my friends were jumping to Facebook. I'm sure for awhile I was using MySpace and Facebook.

My relationship with the platform was not always positive. I liked to argue and debate people on news sites. Mostly, those would just devolve into insults. Over time I realized it was pointless and stopped that. You never change anyone's minds in social media debates. My biggest issue is I like to vent about things a lot. During my early years on Facebook, my mom was battling cancer so I was at the hospital a lot. I was bored most of the time. The hospital had WIFI so I spent a lot of time on Facebook playing games like Farmville, crabbing about my life because I was miserable due to my mom's condition. I posted antagonistic things and responded to things that antagonized me a lot.

There were some aspects of Facebook I thought would be helpful. I thought I'd be more connected to my friends. I thought having a page for my art would be helpful. In short, it wasn't. Sure, I knew what my friends were doing all the time but it wasn't like I felt more connected to them. They were just there in the timeline and that was it. I felt no need to actually connect with them. The page wasn't that helpful for my art. Facebook made it difficult to reach people because they wanted you to pay for ads and such. I eventually gave up on that. I gave up on games too. Still, though, I've wasted too much time on the platform. When I first joined, I didn't have a smartphone so I just used when I was at home on my laptop. Then in 2011, I bought a smartphone and then started using it more. When bored or during downtime, I'd mindlessly go through my feed.

2016 is when I started to really grow sour on the platform. It had to do with the election. It was constantly seeing people sharing questionable news stories pertaining to the presidential election. The views of some of my friends were starting to irritate and perplex me. It was pretty much downhill from there. Still though, no matter what, like an addiction, I would scroll through my feed when bored or during downtime.

Life After Facebook

I don't know, life was fine before Facebook. Of my 41 years, I've only used it for 10. I guess that's one-quarter of my life. That seems like a significant chunk of time, actually. I lived through my teens and twenties without it. I was fine. Life was fine. Facebook seemed to amplify my issues with anxiety and depression. It became a crutch for when I was bored. I don't think it made me more informed. I never got closer to my friends. Generally, it never made my life better.

It did make finding events more convenient and I liked some of the developer groups I joined. I'll have to find alternatives. It will be fine though. I'll figure something out.

It's time for something different.