In March 2012 I left Facebook. Now I’m back.
In December 2012, I wrote about why I quit and what my thoughts about the decision were at the time. That post resonated with a number of people. I received emails strongly agreeing with main points, and it was even discussed for a few minutes on a popular podcast (54 minutes in). I still agree with everything I wrote then, but I now have a bit more to add.
Quitting Facebook was always a bit of an experiment. I say that not because I planned to return after some amount of time, but because I was very interested in seeing the effects of the action on myself and others. For example, if I was wasn’t accessible via Facebook, would traffic via other channels increase? Would I discover better patterns of keeping in touch that were being ignored due to the convenience of Facebook? Most importantly, would I get to a point where choosing to not use Facebook would leave me feeling better than before? The results: no, no, maybe.
It is no exaggeration when I say that communication with my “extended circle” (mainly family, a few friends) is through Facebook or not at all. I found that out right away. Writing emails might yield a response but was hardly a substitute for something intended to be a broadcast update of the, “Hey, look what our son did”, kind. This blog won’t be read by said people (though it continues to be, as always, an invaluable journal for me). And posts to Google+, Twitter, Instagram, etc.? I might as well save the pieces in /dev/null. The people I most want to share with are only going to be available on Facebook.
So, the communication lines are down, but maybe it’s not that bad, right? After 15+ months I can say it’s not that bad, but it’s not that good either. I’ve always been the solitary type and it hasn’t been particularly jarring to slowly lose track of what everyone else is doing. The problem becomes: what am I left with? For a few weeks the silence was refreshing, but I could have gotten that by simply not using Facebook for a while. Over the long term, an unhealthy apathy formed. Almost all of my family and friends are outside of my daily life, but they still exist! They want to know how I’m doing and I want to tell them. I care about their significant life events. I’ve realized—only after an extended period—that turning all that off to avoid some of the ill-effects of Facebook is a bad trade for me
To fix this, I’ve signed up for a shiny new Facebook account. (Having provided literally nothing more than my email address, it promptly identified and suggested I friend just about every person I’ve ever met. Privacy!) I’ll probably be a little more judicious with my friending (or whatever it’s called now), but I’ll be a lot more quick to mute. I hope to regain some of the good of Facebook and less of the bad.
And I hope that’s all I have to say about Facebook.