If you ever try to quit Facebook, you’ll head to the “Deactivate Account” page and get a screen similar to the one on the right, featuring five pictures of your friends who “will miss you”. In my case, four of those pictures were of journalists, three of whom write for the New York Times.
“Steve will miss you — send Steve a message”, I am prompted. Just below that, I was asked to give a mandatory reason for quitting, where, irrespective of what I pressed, I was given with an easy solution to my problem. It’s as close as I’ve come to rehab.
I didn’t quit right then and there – my initial impulse was to grab the screenshot and post it on my wall, tagging all of these friends in their picture. But within a few minutes, I tried deactivating again — and this time, one of the pictures was of my father. “Alexander will miss you — send him a message.” And that was it – Facebook had crossed the line.
My driving inspiration for quitting Facebook was an article by Nic Robertson in CDBaby’s blog, spelling out four reasons why Twitter is better than Facebook for Music Marketing. But even before reading the article, I was tempted to quit — I kept getting notified of comments by friends-of-friends on friends-of-friends statuses; items of text that were shared as a graphic because, well, graphics get shared wider. Most of all, I increasingly felt pawned — check in here, like this, comment to this, post a picture & tag yourself. Yes it’s pretty, but it’s all a pawn to continue refining your data for advertisers. None of this is yours — you can’t export your statuses into an text file, you can’t print your photo albums into a real album, you can’t.. so many things.
Speaking of advertisers, on more than one occasion I was offered to “promote” a post, both in my own wall and on the fanpage of our band. It was promised that, for $10-20, my posts could reach 95% wider audience. I tried advertising several times as an experiment, and yes, I did get a wider audience, but primarily of spammy accounts, and not one meaningful interaction.
With the introduction of the Facebook Home app on Android, it’s clear that Facebook is out to make its users lives more dependent on its interface and each other, making other more convenient things (like email) a thing of the past.
I’ve been gone from Facebook for a month now, and am greatly enjoying life. Each time I look away from the computer screen (or my iPhone screen), I feel energized by the world around me, by what the city is trying to say, by the music I’m trying to write. Gratefully, only two or three of my 3000+ Facebook friends have written to me in shock that I’ve quit.
And yes, my dad will always miss me – and I him. We have rekindled our friendship outside of Facebook, strange as it may seem.
So thank you, Facebook, for everything. It’s been interesting, annoying, rewarding, lonely, and I’m sure I’ve missed out on a lot of life by scrolling through my news feed. Hope that your advertisers have enough data on me for now.