Over the Wall

Manchester ruins wall

I’m getting rid of my Facebook.

I made my profile back in 2008 about a week after I almost missed a birthday party because the invitations were sent via Facebook event. By that point I was already a creature of the internet, and there were things about the platform that made me bristle.

I was a denizen of video game message boards, so The Social Network was alien to me in a lot of ways. It annihilated topicality. Its forces of moderation were opaque and incorporeal. And its very purpose was to reject anonymity.

But interacting with real names on the internet has never been the same as interacting with real people. Absent anonymity, authenticity doesn’t take over. And despite its stated mission, Facebook has never made me feel closer to anyone.

I’m getting rid of Facebook, not leaving it.

Facebook doesn’t feel like a place. I can’t imagine being there. When I think of Facebook, I think of a blistering wall of sound.

The only place it can be called is a marketplace, one that openly trades in the attention and mental bandwidth of human beings.

I deleted the Facebook app from my phone earlier this year, and that alone more than halved my usage. I also changed the bookmark in my browser to direct not to my Timeline but to a group in which people post pictures of rabbits. I like rabbits, but this, too, has caused me to open Facebook less. Most of my remaining Facebook use comes from Instagram and Facebook Messenger, both of which I will also throw away.

I took these steps because I wanted to use Facebook less. I don’t think Facebook made me depressed, but checking it is a good way to stay depressed. An updated version of this comic strip would replace “refreshing my inbox” with “checking my notifications.”

I don’t want to have Facebook anymore. This raises the question: Do I need Facebook?

It’s a service that is useful in certain situations. It helps you remember birthdays. It’s a good tool to reach out to people if you’re relocating. The check-in function can alert friends and family that you have survived a natural disaster or a mass shooting. For better or worse, it can remind you that people you don’t cross paths with exist.

2018 AIDS Walk 5K run pre stretch

What Facebook has helped me the most with in recent memory is fundraising, and I am still unfathomably grateful to everyone who contributed to the 5K I ran back in October. If I do that again next year, I’ll have to find another way to reach people.

You can do any of these things without Facebook, though. It wants to be your calendar, your newspaper, your link to everyone you know and everything you do. And it’s easy to let it be in the same way it’s easy to eat unhealthy food or to not leave the house.

I’m getting rid of my Facebook, but don’t mistake that as me saying you should delete yours. Getting rid of Facebook is like the new veganism. You can hear about someone who does it, and if they have strong convictions for doing so, it might make you question yourself.

You’re not a bad person if you have a Facebook. But, at this point, we know that Facebook is bad.

Facebook is deceptive.

Facebook is intrusive.

Facebook is careless.

Facebook is uncaring.

Facebook is feckless.

Facebook is dangerous.

For the past two years, we’ve seen this horror story of a company unravel, and even the people who work there are finding the Kool-Aid has too much sugar in it. It has taken no meaningful steps toward improving its service or bettering its impact on society. The only concern at Facebook HQ is that its monstrous growth is slowing down as it reaches the saturation point in countries that have internet access.

The things I didn’t like about Facebook ten years ago have only gotten worse while new reasons to dislike the service are revealed on what seems like a daily basis.

Before I get rid of it, I’ll scour my profile for whatever I want to keep, I’ll download my information, and I’ll reach out to whomever doesn’t read this post that I want to stay connected to. And then I will delete it.

If you are reading this post, you can get in touch with me to trade contact info. You can have my email, or I’ll give you my phone number if we’re close and you don’t have it already. You can also bookmark this blog since I will have fewer channels to share posts like this one.

You can even follow me on Twitter, a website that lacks the audacity to pretend it isn’t a circle of hell. (That’s if you’re already on there — I don’t recommend signing up, and we’ll see if I make it to ten years without writing one of these about that service.)

But you won’t find me on Facebook anymore. I’m over that.

Happy birthday to me.