Farewell to Facebook

I’ve decided to quit Facebook.

I’ve basically been on Facebook since it was opened up to the general public. At first it was great, I got connected to tons of people that I hadn’t been in touch with for years and it was easy to keep tabs on people around me. I felt like I’d never miss a thing as long as I was on FB. FB was kind of like crack (which I haven’t tried, but rumors are…) once you start it’s real tough to stop. I spent days trying to find everyone I’ve ever known. It was exhausting, but fun. The search and the initial catching up was fun, until I realized why I hadn’t kept in touch with them in the first place. I’ve “friended” tons of people that I met at a party or in a drunken state, that I later had to “unfriend”, when I couldn’t figure out who they were.

I realize that on a purely narcissistic level it feels great to have tons of “friends”, but I want to feed my narcissism elsewhere, like here: on my blog where I control everything 🙂 Here I can write something and if people want to read it, they have to read it here and not have it thrust in their face on a newsfeed squeezed in between ads and YouTube clips about cats, or between Spotify songs someone is listening to or newspaper articles someone read.

In order to combat all the noise I got in my newsfeed on FB, I started excluding status updates I didn’t find interesting. The next step was normally to unfriend the people writing them. All the people I had only met once, or hardly knew went early. Next came people I used to know, but had lost touch with, because we’d grown apart. The worst part about “unfriending” is that I actually felt bad about it. I had way too many “friends” and it was impossible to keep a meaningful level of contact with them. I’ve gotten it down to 400 after deleting close to 300, but it’s still too much. For me, actual contact is king now. Face to face is my favorite, second on my list is phone/Skype/FaceTime, followed by chatting, finished off with emails. That’s it. That’s my list. Facebook isn’t on it and won’t be, because this is it, I’m cutting the chord.

I know I could just keep the profile and check it every once in a blue moon, but even that would be too much, because I don’t trust Facebook with my pictures or any information about me and anyone around me. The less I’m on FB, the larger the chance that they would change the privacy settings and something that shouldn’t be, is all of a sudden available for everyone to see.

Our privacy on FB is up for grabs. We think that by adjusting our settings and staying on top of things, that we will remain in control, but we’re proven wrong time and time again. The reason is simple: It is not in FB’s interest to honor our privacy settings, because it won’t make them any money. The more we share and the more people we share it with, the easier it is for them to target their advertising to us. This targeted information can be used to sell the same crap to your friends and those similar to you. We’re simple algorithms to them.

FB knows not only what you like, who you like, what web pages you visit, what music you listen to, and articles you read, but where you’ve been, who you’ve been with and what you guys were doing. FB knows so much about our lives and we trust that they will keep this information safe, when it is in their best interest to share/sell this knowledge, so that they can make money. They just had an IPO that on anyone’s scale failed and their stock plummeted, because the big financial players see that FB is not able to generate the ad revenue they were hoping. FB is also struggling to adapt to the new mobile World, where a lot of people are accessing the net through their cell phones. With cell phones they have less screen real estate to put ads on which diminishes their ad revenue. FB is supposedly worth an outlandish sum of money and they need to justify that with revenue. What’s our privacy worth to FB? Not a damned thing. In fact it is stopping them from making money, so I don’t trust that they will have my best interests in mind when they make privacy decisions.

A key thing for me though is that FB has been a time-drain of huge dimensions. If I had spent the time I’ve spent on Facebook writing a book, I would at least have a trilogy under my belt by now. It’s not that I’ve spent incredible amounts of time each day, but even little usage adds up, especially as the years fly by. I can’t get back the time I’ve already spent on FB, but I can stop myself from spending more time there and by deleting my account I accomplish that.

The thing I’ve come to realize is that I don’t need FB anymore, but FB needs me. They make money off me, by me spending time there, but I get nothing back from them. I’d rather spend that time with people, either in person, or talking to them on the phone/FaceTime… You get the picture.

Which brings me back to where I started this post: I’m quitting Facebook … and now you know why 🙂

I like the way things were done in the old days, where you kept in touch with your friends and sent Christmas cards to everyone else. I’m a cheap bastard and sending off 400 Christmas cards would cost a small fortune, so my idea now is to get more face time with friends. I’m moving back to Stavanger in a week, so I’ll meet many of you there quite naturally. The rest of you will take some work to keep in touch with, but healthy relationships require a bit of effort. I’ll strive to call, chat and write, but in return I hope you’ll do the same. I look forward to a more personal relationship with you, now that I’m moving beyond Facebook.

I look forward to catching up with you real soon!