Delete Facebook For The Right Reasons

#DeleteFacebook is trending, and I will not miss this one for anything. Brian Acton who got part of the $16 million that Facebook paid to acquire his baby, WhatsApp, joined the movement with his own time to #DeleteFacebook tweet. Kind of ironic, and a post on WhatsApp is a real possibility, but let me share my understanding of Facebook. Those who know me (in all worlds, the real, the virtual and the other) will agree that my views are jaundiced and rabid. I like my yellow foam. 



I stepped out of Facebook nearly two years ago. Before that, I had spent six years as a social marketing consultant, advising clients on how best to build strategies that would get their message across to social media users who were most likely to respond to those messages with an expression of interest, if not a transaction itself. In the process, I gained a fair amount of insight into what Facebook does and how it does it. Given the nature of today's world, a free market, and no holds barred marketing environment, I cannot find fault with the way it works. Users give the permission to host their personal interactions on Facebook servers, and anonymized manipulation of those interactions, or data derived from those interactions is used to build a price model for advertisers. Of course, when that anonymity is violated, there is a problem. Similarly, content that is intended to extract user information needs to be regulated much more stringently. All of this is for Mr. Zuckerberg, the guy who boasted of 4000 Harvard names, emails and photos that he could get you, to figure out. The guy whose 2018 resolution is to fix Facebook. Yes, the same guy who paid $16 million to anonymously listen in on your conversations with your friends and family.

My reasons for stepping out of Facebook are quite different. I will summarize them briefly, since this is not worth dwelling on more than we have all (one sixth of the world's population is on Facebook) dwelt on already.

1. Facebook robs you of your present. Have you kept track of how much time you spend versus how much time you intended to spend on Facebook? You will be surprised at how violable your own commitment to yourself is. Facebook is designed that way. The dopamine high you get from knowing about your best friend's new dress is rivaled only by the thrill of scrolling on. You spend your time commenting and liking and sharing things that do not in any way add value to your real life. You do it because you feel you are contributing to a conversation. Life is what happens when you are busy scrolling down your newsfeed. This time could have been spent in real conversations with your loved ones, time spent with your parents and kids, time spent in self-care, or time spent learning something new.



2. Facebook makes you regret your life. I found myself anxiously looking out for likes, comments and shares on the posts that I would make on Facebook. I would put in a lot of effort into making my posts likeable, engaging and stuff that would make people want to share it. Virality is a subconscious goal when you post on Facebook, even with stuff that you know most of your social will not be really interested in. Unfortunately, Facebook is a business and it has its own priorities and algorithms that determines who sees what on their newsfeed. I have tried it out myself with less than five friends. You still get ad-blitzed and you still cannot see everything that your friends share on your newsfeed. Not only do people not get to see your posts everytime, but they might not like, comment or share. This leaves you feeling unappreciated and unloved. Can you recall times when you were with your loved ones, but your mind was on the post that you put out on Facebook and what response it was getting?

3. Facebook makes you aspire to an implausible future. Facebook is where you share your sunnier moments, the fine dining food porn, the surf, sand and jumping with joy vacation pics, the family selfies on festive mornings. Users by and large do not share how much in debt they are because of the fine dining bills, or the hungover arguments during vacations, or the bitching over festive family meals. When you look at Facebook, you, your family, and your housekeeper, believes that the ideal life should be a slice, if not all of what you see on Facebook. Life is an interplay of opposites, the positive is positive because the negative is negative. There is no joy without sorrow, no gain without pain. Facebook encourages you to leave that out. Duckface selfies make up for the emptiness in your life as you aim for a life ahead that is totally impossible.

4. Facebook makes you dishonest. I have honestly liked, commented and shared on stuff but I have done that as part of a social media dance, a conversation of mutual convenience, I know you are miserable but I like your peppy posts. I tell you how I feel the same when you share how low you are, when I have no clue what you are feeling.  I have wished people with wishes that are hollow and insincere. I cannot speak for anyone else, but this is my honest experience of Facebook drawing out the dishonesty in me. I do not like being that person.

5. Facebook makes you envious. My first response when I get something I really cherish was to take a pic and post it on Facebook. Not 180 g vinyls or top end gear, but the smaller, cheaper things that made me feel good about where I am in my life. Strangely, I would find others posting about bigger, better, and usually more expensive versions of the same around the same time give or take, whether it be food, or vacations, or gear. This would trigger envy in me, and I would itch to get my hands on that, even though I was perfectly content with what I had just a few moments back. Stepping away from Facebook has given me a new joy with my small achievements and not having to share them or compare them against those of others.

6. Facebook makes you self pitying. Posts that go unnoticed or with less response that I had hoped made me feel like my posts were not good enough. I looked at other people's posts, the engagement they had, and felt I was no good. It reinforced my belief that I sucked at everything, even at Facebook posts.

We are free birds who have sold our souls and wings to the captains of consumerism. Image is a mixed media drawing by me. Used here with permission to break the monotony of literate, genuine conversation. 

7. Facebook makes you superficial. You know how you are and who you are. You know what keeps you awake at night and what brings that rare smile to your lips. You know your secrets and your darkness. You know what you feel like telling the world but have to wait three months before you can do it and you know what you will be taking to your grave. You know what you believe and what you fear at the core of your being. Facebook is not where you can be who you are. You are unconsciously compelled to be what you want others to think of you. You spend your time engaging with issues that are far removed from those that are central to you. And you build yourself an inviolable wall of logic to justify it. A life not examined is a life not lived, and Facebook helps you stay away from the need to examine your life.

8. Facebook controls you. Those in social marketing will be aware of this, but have you noticed how your newsfeed gives you the perfect solution for the problems you are dealing with right now? Have you noticed how your behavior on the rest of the internet is reflected back at you in the sponsored posts that you see? Have you tried deleting your Facebook account ever? If you do, Facebook wants to know why. If you say it is temporary, it wants to know when you will be back. The missus would give her right arm to have that kind of control over me. Deleted content on Facebook stays on their servers, and till 2013 you could actually search on the internet and find content that had been deleted by users. I am familiar with routines, of course unethical, that lets you access user deleted content even now. The last elections in the two largest democracies of the world were elections fought on social media, with fake news and bot armies that challenged even the most rigorous of curation and regulation. The amount of hate, terror, and criminal boasting that survives the policies of Facebook is amazing. When you are repeatedly told the same thing, it is a matter of time before a part of you starts agreeing with it. In time, and especially when it is time, it will make you do what you would not have dreamed you were capable of doing. You don't see that happening with you? You can always wait and watch. 

Good God, you read up till here? Must have taken you a while, and a million things would have happened on Facebook in this time. Time to switch tabs, log in to Facebook, if only to delete your account permanently. Or you could share this post on Facebook from the social sharing links below.

5 comments:

  1. All of these appear to be good reasons to quit Facebook, if they are true for you. I can't say I relate to any of them, to be honest. My facebook comprises 65 friends, who represent the closest of friends and family. These are people I've met several times, and know well. This social circle works well for me because these are folks I don't envy (rather am happy to see them doing well), and also will not resent if they didn't "like" my post because I trust their judgement (most of them at least :) I'd daresay Facebook is my first choice on social media, Insta second for the sole reason that I can find my daughters and nieces and nephews only on there, Twitter a distant third for its therapeutic value. I haven't logged into LinkedIn in months. I don't even have Snap. And, email is dead.

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  2. A great insight! I quit facebook two years back. Deleted twitter and instagram. Every point you said is true in my case too. Situations like these remind me of Terry Gilliam's dystopian classic - "Brazil". We let ourselves ruled by the machines. Only sky is the limit to the human want. I suggest a watching of "The Social Network" by David Fincher, to get an understanding of how social networks like FB are built on moral ugliness, which we brought on to ourselves. Zuckerberg settled many cases out of court, which would unsettle all of us if they are out in the open, thanks to the non disclosure agreements. After reading this post, I am asking myself whether or not, to quit whatsapp. Youtube for that matter, floods my feed with cute baby videos, if I watch one toddler for six seconds! Oh my god ! the Skynet is real ! HAL 9000 is back from the undead. The Borg is real !

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  3. Like! So how did we come to this point then. When I first logged in 2009, I was very excited about how FB would be a tool for social change and I watched with some trepidation how the forces that be could easily corrupt this platform their own gains. Mr. Zuckerberg knew everything what was going on. How did one of a kind tech giant, the usurper of MySpace and the paragon of political correctness transform into a tool for crooked political operators, evil corps or just plain irritating memes. May be its not only us who need to delete Fb, Mr. Zuckerberg should take time to introspect and log out of Facebook altogether.

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  4. Valid points but I don't let FB control me. Thankfully it works fine as it helps me share my blog posts. Yes, it does create pangs of envy sometimes but now that I understand the nature of the medium I know it's not real.

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  5. Well, I do agree with most of your points mentioned here... but I too could write a similar post on "Why you don't need to delete your FB account". The fact that today, media and information technology are all pervasive and invasive, is undeniable. The most precious commodity thus, becomes time and one has to choose and prioritise how much of this time we devote to what? I choose not to stuff my mouth in the sand and deal with the challenge of juggling all my priorities without dropping a ball.... it is tough but exciting! In the 1960s (pardon my history, if I got the generation wrong!), I am sure somebody would have resisted the invention of a TV. Are we throwing our TV sets off the balcony now. The question is how can we live in the secular world, amidst all its distractions, temptation and negativities and still not lose our own identity and inner voice!

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