- Dado Ruvic/Reuters
- I deactivated my Facebook account several months ago, and nothing bad happened. It was surprisingly easy.
- I still keep in touch and stay connected to people I care about without Facebook, and I’ve realized that the social media network doesn’t really add value to my life. Rather, Facebook has seemingly been getting much more value from me than I have from it.
- A combination of privacy scandals, a massive change in what Facebook showed me in my timeline, and an absurdly annoying notification system all contributed to my decision to leave Facebook.
- You can try deactivating – rather than permanently deleting – Facebook to see what it’s like to live without it. Your account won’t be active, but all your stuff will be right where you left it if you ever want to come back to the social network.
I deactivated my Facebook account about six months ago, in August, after first signing up for the social network in 2005 right before college, and living without it made me realize just how little it contributes to my life.
In those six months, I never felt as if I were missing out, nor did I wish I had Facebook for any particular reason.
To be fair, people use Facebook in different ways, and some people’s accounts do actually have a positive impact on their lives. And you don’t even need to trust Facebook as a company and what it does with your data to keep using Facebook, like my colleague Dave Smith.
But if you’re a longtime Facebook user and you can’t imagine a life without it, I can at least testify that everything is fine after quitting Facebook. The world kept spinning, people still talked to me, and I still talked to people.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t the stunning number of scandals and their severity that “did it” for me, though that certainly factored in to my decision. Privacy scandal after privacy scandal, I started to think Facebook didn’t really see us as “users” or “accounts” but more like cattle at the Facebook Ranch, where user data could be collected and used for whatever reason the company saw fit.
What really did it for me, though, was a combination of the scandals and a couple of other things.
One of those things was Facebook’s shift away from delivering “public content – posts from businesses, brands, and media” on timelines, as Mark Zuckerberg said such content was “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
I suppose that, in the end, I wasn’t really using Facebook for its intended – user-facing – purpose of keeping connected and sharing with friends and family. I was already doing that with the people I care about elsewhere, through chat services and sharing photo albums with Google Photos. I didn’t need Facebook to do that.
What I did need was a place where I could keep up with businesses, brands, and media that I liked. Facebook essentially handed that role over to Twitter, where I now get my “public content.”
The final nail in the coffin for me was Facebook’s absurdly annoying notification system that was revamped toward the beginning of 2018. The company was frothing at the mouth with its notifications. On the app and website, I’d constantly get new notifications about stuff and people I truly did not care about. Notifications like a high-school friend who I hadn’t spoken with in years commenting on a random person’s photo obscured things that were actually useful, like a reminder about a friend’s birthday.
And I started getting emails about each notification, too, which was horrendous for my inbox. Managing these notifications in Facebook’s settings was a nightmare at the time, but eventually I somehow turned off the email notifications that I never enabled myself in the first place.
- Getty Images
But then the text messages started coming. It was like playing whack-a-mole. Facebook just wouldn’t leave me alone. It was intrusive and desperate, and I didn’t want Facebook in my life anymore.
It’s been great without Facebook. If you want to give it a try, I suggest deactivating your account, which doesn’t mean fully deleting it. You can return at any time, and everything is right where you left it.
Eventually, I’ll fully delete my account. But, like my colleague Dave Smith, I have amassed a ton of good memories that were recorded to Facebook, and to keep all those memories, I’ll need to download my entire Facebook history. And to do that, I’ll need to reactivate my account one more time.