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On closing my Facebook account

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Kit said on April 18th, 2012 at 4:11 am :

I know one person who, when they closed their account, was shown one of Facebook’s sleazy guilt-you-into-staying pictures of a friend who had recently died.

That’s quite the unintended consequence of putting words in people’s mouths, eh?

 

Rio said on April 19th, 2012 at 10:10 pm :

@Kit that’s horrible. I think someone in the UI/Engineering department should be shot.

Apr 17, 2012 | On closing my Facebook account


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I’ve had Facebook since 2005, when I had just been accepted to Swarthmore and was anxiously waiting for my .edu email address to sign up into this exclusive online directory. Now, almost 7 years on, I have just gotten enough motivation to shut down my account, and it’s something I want to chronicle as part of my ongoing adventures. Funnily enough, Facebook makes it decidedly hard to deactivate, showing you pictures of the people who will miss you and asking you to confirm if you’re going to close certain groups.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve been able to say good-bye to Facebook, along with 617 friends (although obviously I downloaded a copy of my data, and extracted all of my contact’s email addresses along the way). I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been an avid and almost compulsive user, and along the way I’ve had many reasons to believe that Facebook was worthwhile using.

a) Facebook makes me an egotist
Facebook makes it exceedingly easy to share news, snippets, photos, and all sorts of going-ons about one’s life. Regardless of a person’s interest in you, that kind of information filters into other people’s channels. While I did keep my privacy particularly strong (such that no one can find me unless I add you), once we do become friends, I do inevitably end up sharing bits and pieces of my life. That’s a failing on my part (as I know folks who use Facebook a lot more conservatively). The scary part comes from changing things like relationship or job information - it has come to a point where I can hardly “not care” who reads it or not.

b) I have no idea what Facebook does with my data
It’s a long-held tenet that if the software product is free, you’re the product, and nothing hold more true than with Facebook. I’m worried about what Facebook has planned to do with my data. Furthermore, Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram gives me another reason to be suspicious about where they plan to go in the near future. (Has it ever crossed your mind that the photos you take give you the most perfect indicator of where you are? You don’t need to “check in” anywhere if you just have a photo trail.)

c) I’ve long since passed the point where I am making new friends
The main reason for my use of Facebook has been to connect with friends I’ve long since lost in touch with - now it has become an easy way for me to “stalk” friends I haven’t been in touch with (or correspondingly be stalked). It gives me the superficial satisfaction that in doing so I’ve somehow kept in touch with that person, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It always catches me a bit off guard when a friend rattles off something I’ve done or shared on Facebook, especially if it comes from someone who didn’t interact (”Like” or comment) with that particular piece of news online. Liking or commenting gives me a way to imagine how I might have shared that piece of information with that specific individual.

d) It’s hard to say “I don’t have Facebook” anymore
I was asked by an elderly Japanese man staying at a hostel last week if I had Facebook, and I had a hard time telling him no, particularly since I think he saw me using it previously. While his intentions were fairly innocuous, it did give him licence to all the photos I had there, which was a bit tough to bear (I unfriended him after I left).

e) Some of the folks I admire the most don’t use Facebook (or use it very sparingly)
While this isn’t a particularly powerful argument, it does make me wonder what I could do with the time I otherwise spend on Facebook. Given that I am the kind of guy that, given a tool or resource, will have a hard time controlling my use of it, locking myself out is the best available option.

Granted, Facebook has been great for communicating to large numbers of folks on short notice. I will miss that ability, but then again I have access to email, and that, for now, will have to do.

Also written on this day..

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 at 6:03 am, EST under the category of Future Me. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.