Why I'm Indefinintely Leaving Facebook

15 February 2016

Fuck a fake friend, where your real friends at?
— Drake Started From the Bottom

Some months ago Evaline Xie shared an essay with me on social media being a means for healthy introspection of one’s life. She hypothesized that if done correctly, a social media presence could be equal in value to that of a well documented journal of one’s feelings.

I’ve been on Facebook for a long time: since the middle of 2007 when accounts were first opened to the public (I was 10 years old) and I’ve seen it go through many tides. I’ve seen my fair share of redesigns, feature introductions and sunsets, as well as the rotation in crops of friends. The only thing that remains from those earliest years, save few of the friends I have from then, are the very young pictures of me. For a while, I’ve taken a contrarian approach to Facebook. I’ve trimmed my friends every year or so trying to avoid the fake friends – the ones whose photos and posts you like, or you like solely for avoiding the fear of missing out but who you never interact with meaningfully. I ruthlessly unfollowed and unfriended family and I constantly tried to limit the number of groups I was a part of. Yet throughout all of this I felt my return on investment was very low. I would spend ~5-10 minutes per day perusing my feed only to leave feeling worse than before. I’d feel bad only seeing friends achievements or pictures when I had none of my own to post. To be clear, it’s not that I feel like my life is devoid of those things, it’s more so just that I seldom post in the first place (that’s a matter for another post though).

In the past months I’ve felt it become more toxic.

I’ve had people friend me after meeting once only to never interact with them again. I’ve been added to groups and constantly notified of events which I feel like I should follow, but I really don’t care for. The last straw for me was realizing today that I wanted to do something so that I could get the likes and the comments on Facebook. Having the realization that the fuel for my actions was something negative, and that I purely wanted to do something for public attention was just too much for me.

It feels like everyone I’m friends with on Facebook is fake, even the people I talk to daily. We all, myself included, try to portray ourselves in the best light possible. We post only the photos that make us look good, only the events that commemorate our successes (never our failures) and it’s all to self aggrandize, to relish in that sweet sweet karma of people who we don’t really care for or need to be connected to that degree with. I know this whole “perception of others on Facebook” bit has been beaten to death already, so I’ll stop the train of my issues here, but just know I’ve had more than enough.

The one thing I felt like I got meaningful use out of was Messenger. There is an issue though – it’s like Facebook is selling free crack covered candy, it’s so good and oh-so addicting. Messenger puts all of the people you need to talk to in one place, it gives you a constant and easy communication medium. Pile on top the gif integration, the stickers, the emoji and new chat customization and it seems nearly perfect save two things: firstly, I have to sell myself to get access to it and secondly it absolutely obliterates my phone battery.

Now, I realize that this indefinite Facebook hiatus will be hard. What I’m most nervous about: still being an active member in clubs and hackathons when the main medium for meeting and organization is via Facebook. I’m also terribly nervous that this will severely impact how easily I am able to chat with people, though I hold some hope that this will help to show me who I am truly close with for I am confident that those people will seek me out.

On balance, I believe that leaving Facebook will be good for me. In the 9 years I’ve been on the platform I’ve gotten very, very little positive output from the system. I know that leaving Facebook will not cure my underlying tendencies to seek outside validation, and I know that in the short term abandoning the platform will be a disaster chat wise (simply nothing compares, but for right now I am going to try Telegram with those who will be willing). It’s my hope though that by removing the enabling medium for poor behavior I can start to become a more positive and engaging person. I want to remove the cruft that I feel has been weighing me down for too long. Facebook has not brought my anywhere close to the hypothesis brought forth by Evaline, and I don’t think it will.

That’s not nearly everything, but in a nutshell it’s why I’m taking an indefinite and most likely permanent break from Facebook.