Now he’s gone, now he’s gone, Lord he’s gone, he’s gone
Like a steam locomotive, rollin’ down the track
He’s gone, he’s gone and nothin’s gonna bring him back, he’s gone
-Jerome J. Garcia / Robert C. Hunter
I know. I know.
This time I’m doing it though—really.
What prompted this? Well, it was a number of things really. Facebook other social media has been getting a ton of bad press recently. A quick Google search will put you a click away from a number of articles and studies linking social media use to increased rates of depression, decreased productivity, and having it all on our mobiles seems to make it even worse.
I can’t recall where I heard this, but if you work in an office setting take a look at how your coworkers work. You’ll see that the millennials and younger gens have their hands on the keyboard, with their phones on their desk, in front of the keyboard, in between their arms. Trust me. It’s true.
Additionally, I’ve been writing a lot for our company blog about all of the privacy issues around Facebook and the sloppy, if not indifferent, and perhaps even malevolent manner in which they handle personal data from browsing history to passwords, and it started to feel like maybe Facebook isn’t the kind of neighborhood I want to hang out it.
The real kicker for me, though, was NPR coverage of the Super Bloom in California:
Mary Louise Kelly: Which has meant the fragile poppies are being crushed. People are lying down in the fields to get that perfect photo for social media. So Mayor Manos has issued a warning.
Mayor Setve Manos: Keep your dogs on leashes. Don’t pick the poppies. Don’t trample the poppies. Don’t wade into the poppies. Don’t roll around on the poppies. Don’t slide down the poppies.
Have we really fallen this far, that we are destroying flowers and risking rattlesnake bites for likes on Instagram and Facebook? Is this really what is driving our decision making? If so, it’s like we are heading towards (d)evolving to the script of a bad tv show episode.
With this, I started thinking about how I use social and why I was using it. And, the conclusion I came to was, it was often about the likes. And that, that didn’t feel good. Add to it, that Zuck was looking to merge it all together, and I was less inclined to stay.
So I stopped.
I had already deleted Facebook from my phone. I removed Instagram that morning. March 19, 2019. The fourth time is a charm.
But I did hesitate.
In truth, I had been growing tired of Facebook. Its feed was less relevant and was filled with nonsense from the “What’s happening in Townsend, MA” crap. The one thing that kept me coming back were the memories. I loved the little moments that I had forgotten about, mostly photos of the kids when they were younger. I didn’t want to lose those.
Then I discovered that you can download all of your data from Facebook. That solved the problem there.
The Instagram piece was relatively easy to quit, although I do feel as though the world is missing out on my remarkable wit and photos of my chickens.
Eight days in.
I catch myself in some random situation thinking, “I should grab a photo of this and post it with a witty line.”
I kept Facebook messenger. I kept WhatsApp. I still have Snapchat (although I barely know how to use it). I have Twitter, but haven’t paid much attention to it since @tsand stopped following me. Twitter kind of feels like a cesspool for me anyway. In short, if you know me, you know how to get ahold of me.
I wish that I had kept better track of my screen time on my phone so I could compare a before and after. I know I’m on it less though.
I don’t miss the drama of Facebook. of all, it’s Insta I miss the most, but again, I don’t miss the feeling of wanting to post something so it will get a ton of likes. I wasn’t a big selfie guy to begin with, but I almost certainly don’t have to worry about dying while trying to select the best filter for that selfie I just took in a rattlesnake infested field of poppies.
There are inconveniences.
I am totally annoyed with the town sports programs for my kids that, despite having my email address, prefer to make announcements over Facebook. I didn’t like your page when I was on Facebook and I’m not going to now.
There’s also the, “Hey did you hear about…Oh wait, no you’re not on Facebook” conversations. Not a big deal, really, and thus far each one has made me thankful that I was unaware of the drama unfolding in someone else’s third cousin’s friend’s life.
But so far it’s not that bad.
One conclusion that keeps coming into mind is that these social media tools aren’t free. While the currency may not be USD, I still do pay for Facebook, Instagram, etc. I pay for it with my data. My shopping history, my likes, interests, political views, hobbies, family members, friends, etc. I have simply decided that my data was worth more than the service I was getting.
Who knows how long it will last?
I the previous attempts to leave weren’t all that permanent, although, in my defense, I don’t think I entered them with the intention of those breaks being such. I’m 100 percent sure I’m committed to it this time either, but I am more interested in trying than I was in the past. It is an option that is, at least, on the table.