Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why I Said Goodbye to Facebook Forever

“Well everyone it has been a good friend while it lasted but I am finally saying goodbye to Facebook, forever. I am migrating to other social networks and will communicate through those means. Also I still maintain my website (I am not a hard man to find). I will keep this profile up until after the holidays. Laterz”

This was my last Facebook profile post before I permanently closed my account in early January 2013. I had been a member of Facebook since mid-2008 which was shortly after my wife created her own account. Over the past four years I had uploaded a decent amount of family pictures to my profile, had over 300 people in my friends list, and had spent countless hours posting, re-posting, sharing, typing, and butting into various conversations and dialogue on hundreds (if not thousands) of other Facebook profiles. Most of the people I interacted with on Facebook I personally knew at one point or another either from my own experience or through my family and friends; others I did not. I shared my personal views, offered advice, posted jokes and funny comments, and tons of other things. Some of the things I posted were important, but most were not.

Facebook had been a part of my life, as well as my entire family's life, for almost five years. It used to be a great place to share. It was clean, simple, and easy to use. But like our society, Facebook has evolved and transformed into an ugly and vile place – which is something that I think Facebook was never originally intended to be. To me, Facebook was supposed to be a safe place to connect with friends and peers that only you want to allow into your “circle of trust” [gratuitous ‘Meet the Parents’ reference]. But over the years, the circle of trust idea has exploded into something that I can barely explain. I can’t blame Zuck and his dev teams for what has happened to this amazing social system. Facebook members are what makes Facebook the type of experience it is today. Facebook is a free ecosystem - It is only as good as the people that support it which are its members. And a majority of people no longer make it an enjoyable place to spend my time. The reasons of why I closed my account are many, but there are three primary reasons why I closed my account.

The idea of closing my Facebook account came about during the 2012 American political election season. During the debates, the internet was rife with various opinions and ideas, and so was Facebook. I came to expect certain things to be said about each side. But this election cycle’s comments and actions by far seemed to be the most… bold… compared to what I have experienced in the past. I kept fairly quiet during the entire election cycle having only a single comment about the final Presidential Debate in October which, to my delight, did not spark any controversy. I had quietly viewed some of my family and friends’ profiles without leaving comments but decided to stop posting anything. After the elections were over, I rarely logged into my account, but I did update with short and simple comments whenever I logged in. It wasn’t until after the Sandy Hook shootings that I finally decided to close my account.

The main reason why I closed my account is that it is impossible to have an intelligent conversation with anyone on Facebook anymore. You can no longer say simple things like “Praise God!” without someone responding with a comment that says something like “There is no God you idiot. God is for dumb people and you are the epitome of stupidity. Take your God comments and go somewhere else.” You are no longer allowed to agree with a political view such as “Repeal the Obama Healthcare law.” without someone saying very bluntly “You are a racist for not wanting the law. You suck and I hope you die!”. And don’t even bother trying to comment about gun control or abortion, positive or negative. Forget about making comments on someone’s world-view, philosophy, trying to comment on truth, fact or fiction, or anything meaningful for that matter. Facebook is now a rant-fest and it is incredibly depressing. It has become a rally point for those looking for some type of acceptance. Most of these people will say and do anything to get attention, or to get someone to follow and\or agree to their point of view.

Respect or etiquette on Facebook has long been stripped from most contributor comments. I have found that the uneducated and uninformed let their true colors come out on Facebook more than anyone else. In their mind no one is entitled to an opinion because “I am right and you are wrong and that’s the way it is.” Dissention is not allowed and debating a viewpoint is no longer welcome. I believe that this has to do with the way our society now behaves in general which has trickled down into the social networks (or have come from the social networks for that matter). Social networks have empowered people to say and do what they want, how they want, whenever they want, and to whomever they want to say it to without the fear of any consequences. Because “hey, this is the internet right? And the internet is freedom of speech right?”… People have come to believe that they no longer have to account for their own actions, beliefs, or comments anymore – especially on social networks. This is drama that I simply do not need to be a part of, nor support.

The last reason of why I closed my Facebook account is this realization about “social networks” in general. We are becoming a society of disconnectedness. Somehow we have come to believe that having a smartphone, watching CNN or FoxNews on cable TV, having multiple email accounts, tweeting the latest news, having the largest amount of ‘friends’ on social networks, and knowing the latest and greatest up-to-date information from social networks makes us more connected than ever. But it is a lie. The more you focus on keeping your social network status up to date the more you will become personally disconnected from your family and peers and, in effect, forces your mind to become shut off from the world. This is what leads to depression, addiction, and loneliness. Do you now see what information overload does? Don’t take my word for it, look up the various articles and studies yourself. Pick up the phone and actually call someone. Don’t text, CALL THEM. Say hello. Have a real conversation. Meet up with a friend, in person, and catch up face to face.

So what now?

I don’t see opinionated comments anymore, unsettling pictures, or people trolling through some of my old posts and revisiting things (stuff from the past) that I don’t need to talk about anymore. After closing my Facebook account, I can say that I am a happier man. I am spending more time with my family and I am actually having more face to face conversations. I am on the phone talking with my parents and friends instead of typing quick little comments on their Facebook Wall\Timeline. I don’t worry any more about what someone may have said, or might say. And you know what? I don’t miss Facebook. Not one bit.

Facebook is the first social network that I have completely severed my ties with. If my Twitter profile ever gets to the extreme like I had with Facebook, I will probably abandon that as well, and then Google+ if that gets out of hand, and then LinkedIn, and so on. I do wish Facebook and everyone on the social network well. But I have chosen to no longer be victim to the drama that plagues Facebook Timelines…

Now, this is only my opinion and may be more of a problem with our society in general. But nonetheless, Facebook members are composed of the people in our society. In effect, our society makes Facebook what it is.

- Joe