I recently made the decision to create my own blog content and change the way I use traditional social media apps. I thought a good place to start for a first post would be a quick explanation as to why you can't find me on Facebook and how I will be interacting with the community I hope to build.
There is no shortage of stories in the news about the mishandling of consumer data for the benefit of large corporations like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google. After reading about what was happening over there I didn't want my data to be left in the hands of these companies. Since I work in Tech I get insight into the practices of these companies and many more like them. I am aware that this makes me appear like some conspiracy theorist, but I'm not the only one that's worried. Even Micro$oft has come out saying that we need regulation for facial recognition technology There is much more to do for me to completely remove the FAANGs of Technology from of my life, but a good starting point was to completely remove Facebook. It was serving me no useful purpose outside of mocking white nationalists, which can be fun but is also a terrible waste of time. Twitter was useful because I was able to search for my interests and connect with artists and other developers I like. I deleted my entire history and started fresh. I'll probably continue to do mass deletions every so often on Twitter, but my Facebook page was an out of control monster that needed to be put down.
I had MySpace before Facebook. At that point most of us, including myself, used social media to post funny, and inappropriate, memes on each other's walls. Shortly after graduating high school I migrated from MySpace to Facebook. Facebook was used for the same boring crap as MySpace except you couldn't destroy someone's eyes with custom HTML. Then Facebook figured out how to monetize their project, by selling ads. All of a sudden the push to get every man, woman, and grandchild onto the platform accelerated. Advertisers were willing to pay top dollar to be able target users they thought would buy their products by eavesdropping on your conversations. I ignored the ads and the tracking. I wasn't using Facebook for anything other than posting pictures of myself doing things in the real world. I can't remember much of what I posted back then, but I imagine it wasn't very juicy. It wasn't until the next phase of my life happened that I started using social media more and more.
I started doing improv with Second City after I moved to Las Vegas. Maybe I should have had the foresight to create a new "Artist" page for myself but I didn't. As I started to add the mix of fans of my offensive comedy with professional work contacts and other outrageous personalities from my crazy social circles to my Friend's list people began to clash in my comments sections. Friends and fans were having violent arguments over my ideas and beliefs. Sometimes I could feel how it got my adrenaline rushing to view a heated argument the same way your adrenaline rushes in real life. It would even bleed over into my real life, effecting my personal life, my health, and my career. The worst part, I didn't want to stop. I convinced myself that the world needed to hear what I had to say about institutionalized racism and misogyny and once they read my very well thought out and fact-checked post the world would return back to normal and I would be heralded as a savior of the people. I was wrong. It was mostly fighting with people I wouldn't even stand next to on a subway platform, let alone strike up a conversation. Still, I had a very difficult time walking away from it. As someone who knows a little something about addiction, this was an addiction, that was clear. My well-being was deteriorating and I was making every excuse not to quit.
Several books started popping up in my feed about unhooking from social media. It sent me down a rabbit hole researching the negative effects of social media on our lives. I immediately recognized the patterns the books described. I have spent a large portion of my life around people battling addiction. I have struggled with it myself, but usually not to the extent as some family and friends. Social media had become an addiction. It was forcing me to lose sleep, it was making me irritable, and it was affecting my performance at work. Not only that, I started to recognize the patterns in other people I knew. People who used to be normal, civil people were now issuing death threats to teenagers through their phone screen. I tried to express my genuine concern and said I think we all needed a break, myself included. I was met with taunting, more threats, and sneers. The same way an alcoholic acts towards another alcoholic who says they are quitting. Who are they to judge you? You know they'll be back. They always are. That's when I knew I had to find a way to remove the toxic aspects of social media from my life.
I deleted my Facebook account and never looked back. I say "never looked back" because Facebook actually gives you 30 days to come back. Just like a drug dealer, Facebook designs their account deletion mechanism to exploit the addict brain. The system is designed to allow you that one moment of weakness. Deleting immediately is not technologically difficult. At the very least, from a design standpoint, it's not difficult to say once you click this button it's as good as deleted, even if it takes longer to transition states in the back-end system.
And they make it incredibly easy to stop the deletion of your account. Exploiting that sort of, buyer's remorse reflex, or whatever it is. All you have to do is log in during the 30 days after you click the "Delete my Account" button. It's so easy to cancel the deletion that you could do it by accident and not know it. Not sure if your deletion is going smooth and want to see if everything is ok? Log in and restart the process all over again. All of this is done with a purpose. We know it, and yet we don't do anything to stop it or look for an alternative. Facebook is downright evil and should be treated as such.
Deleting Facebook was the best thing I've done for my personal health in a long time. My mood was no longer effected by what some drunk jerk posted at 3am. I wasn't distracted by some juicy gossip thread and constant push notifications. I didn't have six people texting me about Trump's latest tweet that was going to get us all nuked. My productivity soared, my overall mood was better, I made better life decisions, and I started to reach out and reconnect with the real life people who mattered the most in my life. I worked on difficult relationships, but not on Facebook. I spent more time with my family and hearing stories from my childhood that I had long forgotten. I am now closer to them than I have ever been and it's improved all of our lives.
Now that I've cut my social media engagement time by approximately 75% I want to start focusing on creating meaningful content and getting others to realize that social media can be as meaningful or as vapid as we want it to be. I will be sharing a lot more of my projects and myself this year. Here's to hoping it goes well.