I first joined Facebook in the mid-2000s when I was in high school.
Back then, it was a little like when I was a kid and I enjoyed talking to my girlfriends in the afternoons even after having being with them all day in school.
The only difference is that by the time I was in high school, I was already living in the United States, so I was using Facebook to keep up with my friends and relatives from Colombia more so than the people I had just been in school with that day.
Back then Facebook was more “innocent,” though, wasn’t it? Just like blogging, Facebook used to be more real and raw, and also more fun. People seemed to have more genuine interactions on the platform.
Then I don’t know exactly what happened, but once companies got ahold of it, it took a turn for the worst because suddenly, it wasn’t about the connections between users, but rather users’ connections to those companies. And along with that, came users’ growing penchant for looking perfect and transmitting only the amazing parts of their lives.
Or the drama. Wow I forgot about the drama until now! You know when someone would break up with a significant other and then either party would post a really cryptic update on their “wall” that left you all confused and feeling second-hand embarrassment for them? Those posts were annoying and cringey.
Once I grew older, Facebook allowed me to find out what had happened to the people I had grown up and lost touch with, which I enjoyed. X got married, Y had kids, Z moved abroad, B was on her 20th boyfriend, C got that other degree, etc. Everyone was living their lives on social media, and they wanted everyone to see what they had been up to.
However, the other side of that was that everyone began living for social media as well. And with that came their expectation to have YOU live for it.
Which I admit never worked for me because I’ve always been a very private person. Yes, I may have been blogging for over a decade by now, but you’ll notice I don’t share the names of my relatives, our locations, or even pictures of our house. I can control what I share here.
Not so with Facebook.
In the beginning it was fun to tell the platform my interests and things I was a fan of, but then once those interests became marketing tools for companies, I erased them all–incl. those Facebook had automatically added based on my browsing history.
And speaking of browsing history, oh boy! Once Facebook introduced a way to follow (spy on?) your every move across the web so that it could better serve the companies that paid for this benefit, I knew I was getting close to deleting my account.
(For the record, I did deactivate my account years ago, but I didn’t delete it then. At around that time I also created an alternative account purely to keep up with news outlets and other organizations or artists I liked. It had 0 friends so I didn’t care about maintaining any kind of connections. I haven’t used that one in years because it also became very tedious to upkeep.)
What FINALLY did it for me, towards the end of 2018, was the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s growing misuse, abuse, and careless disregard of users’ data. On the one hand I was oddly fine with companies using my information that I gave Facebook to serve me ads that would supposedly benefit me. On the other hand, I was NOT fine with them just spamming me or following me everywhere for this very purpose.
So I deleted my account Dec 31, 2018, and I haven’t looked back. No one in my immediate family has an account or uses it, either.
This ended up being a wise move then because in the months since, there have been insiders from the company who’ve come clean about how the system’s increasingly being used to help manipulate the elections and hide facts or spread biased points.
I see people use Facebook to keep in touch with relatives, their neighborhoods, and their kids’ schools, etc. so a very small part of me thought whether at some point I’d ever go back.
The answer is a definitive NO. Or if I do it won’t be with a genuine name or profile. No one can require us to be on Facebook, after all, so I could care less what their argument is. It’s not like they’ll require parents to comment on a certain post or something so I see no value of keeping a real Facebook account for the latter purpose.
And we’re not into buying used so keeping a genuine account for things like Facebook Marketplace, for instance, wouldn’t be my cup of tea, either.
Neither would keeping it for the sake of managing groups or business pages, to be honest. In fact, before deleting my account, I happily said Goodbye to the groups I had created and stopped posting on the business pages I managed after taking a hard look at the value their Facebook activity was contributing. (Hint: no value!) So we decided to quit while we were ahead. The pages are still up for information’s sake, and they’re controlled by an alternative account, but they’re not actively managed.
My mom also deleted her account shortly after me because she kept trying to convince herself that she needed it so that her relatives abroad could reach out and vice versa. As it turns out, however, it’s so easy to get into that rabbit hole and believe that Facebook allows for more real connections than a phone call or an email does. Moreover, she saw (like me) that she wasn’t really sharing a whole lot, just stuff to show that it was an active account. And most relatives nowadays prefer to be reached out to–not the other way around. I was so happy when she deleted it because it showed me that two different generations could get out of their Facebook dependency mentality and “cut the cord,” so to speak.
So that’s my short spiel today.
But enough about me: Why do YOU still have a Facebook account?