Three weeks ago I made a final decision about something that’s irked the shit out of me for well over a year—I deleted my Facebook account. I know that many Facebook users jumped ship a couple of months ago because of the company’s new Big Brotheresque privacy policies. While I disagreed with Facebook’s decision to essentially share personal information with companies all over the Internet, this was not the Number One (or Number Three) issue that sent me packing. I understand that Facebook is an essential tool for many people, but here are my cynical views about why I chose to cut the cord with Facebook:
Facebook is a huge time-suck. Ever since I started using the Internet in 1995 (ah, good old dial up AOL), I have always found umpteen ways to waste my life away on the World Wide Web. I’m a researcher by nature, so I find it exciting to look up trivial information all the time and usually at the expense of doing something much more productive. Wikipedia, IMDB, blogs, Twitter updates, etc. all provided hours of distraction from a term paper, freelance assignment, or my full-time job. I have garnered delicious recipes, article ideas, book recommendations, funny videos, academic research, or at least some trivial knowledge (Meryl Streep played the Rabbi in Angels in America!) from these sources. But Facebook was the worst online black hole because, at least for me, it provided nothing of value. Sure, it was nice to see a video of a friend’s son taking his first steps or photos of another friend receiving her PhD. But more often that not, I found myself reading personal information about a friend of a friend or stalking a crush I had in the 7th grade. I am the Queen of Wasting Time, but even I couldn’t justify it any longer.
Facebook made me feel like an adolescent again. And I’m not talking about the good parts of the teenager years. I’m talking about the catty, jealous, lonely, low self-esteem, Mean Girls moments of adolescence. In the real world, it stings less if you don’t invite me to your party, baby shower, or night out on the town. I probably won’t even notice, since as adults we’re so busy and lucky to see each other once a month. On Facebook the proof is splashed all over the screen of my computer, whether I want to see it or not. Wedged between Farmville announcements and status updates about potty training toddlers, I see dozens of photos from a 30th birthday party of someone I consider a good friend. Look at all those people having fun! Why wasn’t I invited? I hate myself!
Facebook was getting awkward as more people joined. In the months leading up to the deletion of my account, I had received friend requests from clients at my full-time job (a big social work no no), co-workers (umm, no thanks), staff I directly supervise (no way!), people who I never met but who worked once or twice with my fiancé (why?), and many relatives (thanks for the offer, distant cousin twice removed, but I’ll pass).
When I’m bored, I still find myself automatically clicking the space on my iPhone where the Facebook app once existed. And some of my friends have no idea how to contact me outside of Facebook; several left Happy Birthday messages for me through my fiancé’s Wall. But overall, I’m really happy about unplugging.