It is official: I am no longer a member of Facebook. While I must admit a small sense of regret over losing access to the photos and internet conversations of some friends, my general feeling is one of freedom and relief. Facebook had become a strong temptation while at work and that temptation is now obliterated. This is one more step on the path away from a computer-oriented life. Yes, I still have a blog and will still read emails, so I cannot claim to be completely severing the electronic communication cord, but eliminating Facebook from my life is a movement in the right direction.
Another benefit to leaving the Facebook “community” is that I will be leaving a forum full of advertising targeted at me. I became very tired of all the products and services suggested to me in particular. This was especially obvious when my relationship status was engaged: bridal ads showed up on every page, all the time. Once I got married, and some of my friends had babies, tons of infant clothing, accessories, etc, stuff was pushed on me by the Facebook Ad Machine.
An annoying variant of that issue is the way in which institutions, businesses, and politicians use Facebook to promote themselves, their products, and their services. When that started to happen it felt like these big groups were trespassing on what was supposed to be just a space for socializing. Universities decided they wanted to use it for recruiting, politicians for support, businesses to generate “fans,” i.e. new clients. Facebook morphed from a coffeeshop or town square atmosphere into a shopping mall.
Quitting Facebook was something I had contemplated on many occasions and had already experimented by “Deactivating” my account now and then. But deactivation makes it too easy to get started again. All you have to do is sign in and everything is as it was. Deactivation may as well be called “hiding” because that is pretty much all it accomplishes; it hides your account from view. Now that I have submitted my request to delete my account it will vanish completely after fourteen days unless I change my mind. That “waiting period” is a little frustrating. While I certainly will not renege on my commitment, it would have been easier if I could have instantly deleted the account. It sort of reminds me of the technique corporations like internet-providers or credit card companies use to bait you when you try to cancel your account. “Oh, well, we’ll give you three more months for free, or at a lower rate, if you decide not to cancel today.” I used to fall for that one. I don’t anymore.
Closing the account means losing contact with most of my “friends” on the site. However, I hope it will also translate into more meaningful, intentional contact with the faithful few. Some responded to my notice by sending email addresses or expressing their hopes to hear from me through other means. That was encouraging and I look forward to more letters and phone calls.