why i left facebook

 

This month I celebrate seven months Facebook-free.

I’m shocked by how I little I miss it.  In fact, I haven’t looked back. Turns out it was one of the most positive moves I made in all of 2018.

I had been on the fence about whether to leave Facebook or not, but leaving seemed unimaginable:  How would I stay in touch with the people from all walks of life I reconnected with? Friends from elementary school through college; friends from South America and Spain when I lived there.  It seemed crazy to leave those connections behind.

At the same time, I found the toxic politics and the pointless arguments very distressing. I’m ashamed to admit that I was part of the problem: I damaged a few relationships (that I know of at least) because of overheated political discussions that did nothing to help anyone.

Also, my news feed was no fun anymore.  It only featured the same twenty or so people even though I had hundreds of friends.  Maybe I muted too many people, or maybe Facebook’s algorithms were tuned to show me too many ads.  All I know is that years ago, my news feed included far fewer ads and a torrent of entertaining posts:  Updates from my entire life experience such as old high school friends and people from summer programs. The newer, weak stream in recent years was a pale comparison.

So in March 2018, when news broke that a political consulting company, Cambridge Analytica, illegally harvested information on tens of millions of users, I was done.  That was the nudge I needed. Articles about leaving Facebook began to appear in major media outlets. The hashtag #DeleteFacebook became a trending topic on Twitter. (Even Steve Wozniak himself joined the movement.) Apparently I wasn’t the only person who felt the breach was the last straw.

I downloaded an archive of my data and deleted my personal account. Some of my friends regarded me as if I were the Unabomber—a paranoid mess living in a cabin, secluded in the wilderness.

But I kid you not, leaving Facebook is AWESOME.

I can’t pinpoint exactly which activities I neglected while I perused Facebook, but now, I have all of my wasted Facebook time back. Instead of reading a news feed, I read books, which is infinitely more relaxing. I don’t get heartburn when I look at my feed and see a political fight.  I no longer get in heated conversations and piss off friends and family.

Yes, I do miss the easy access I had to my friends.  For some people in my life, Facebook was my primary conduit to them. But I look at it this way:  If I really want to get in touch with someone, I’ll call them. And if I really want to see a picture of their cats or their kids or their vacation, I’ll ask them.

Remember, it’s not your profile on Facebook.  It’s Facebook’s profile on you. All of that data you willingly divulge is used by the social network to provide information to advertisers, or worse, political operatives. Your likes, dislikes, activity, and social network is sold to the highest bidder.

And newsflash: Facebook still isn’t being careful with your data.  Earlier this month Facebook announced that 30 million accounts had their authentication tokens stolen.  Whoever has these tokens can log into these accounts and take and/or modify all of the data that lives there.

Some people say that Facebook is the most interactive online community, and for business, you have to be there. (For the record, when it comes to business purposes only, I do agree. My company, Rocket Matter, still has it’s own page on Facebook. Facebook, along with Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets, helps get our message out to thousands of people at once. It’s an invaluable business tool.)

However, when it comes to having a personal Facebook account, my position is that you should go somewhere else. There are plenty of communities online and off where you can interact with people.  Go somewhere you trust that’s not going to sell your information. Somewhere that puts a smile on your face, where people don’t fight, and where you know deep in your heart you’re not wasting time.

Leave Facebook. It’s easy. And then send me a postcard when you do:

Larry Port
Rocket Matter
5301 North Federal Highway Suite 230
Boca Raton, FL 33487