So…I guess I left Facebook

My name’s Rob and I’m an addict. Or rather (and less melodramatically), I recognise addictive traits in how I approach things, which is sometimes useful and sometimes not so.

And so, after wrestling with a decision that would have been unthinkable 12 months ago, I decided to turn in my passport to (reportedly the third largest country in the world after China and India) Facebook.

I realise the over-dramatic tone I’m taking already, but it’s precisely the reason that I don’t believe it to be dramatic that made the decision so easy at last.

So why would a communications person, and one that has talked a lot about Facebook, quit it? For me, it’s a personal decision based around claiming some ‘me’ space back. I still understand its power for marketing, and the importance to integrate it in a comms strategy – and I will still be wading in it as part of my work.

It’s just for personal use, I wanted to get off the train.

I wrote a list of things I used Facebook for, and they were depressingly slight:

  1. To talk about the work I do (okay…)
  2. To overshare
  3. To ‘Like’ the things my ‘Friends’ write in their statuses; in lieu of a phonecall, visit, or a one to one email
  4. To be voluntarily marketed at: by bands I’ve seen, films I’ll never re-watch, bars I frequent, products I buy, and even – by friends
  5. To stare at pictures of cats doing stupid things
  6. To network

Of all of the above, I only see value in the last one – and I’m convinced I can continue this one outside of Facebook.

I resent the ubiquity of Facebook. I resent its arrogance; its ambitions to be the gateway to the rest of the internet; its labyrinthine privacy ‘controls’.  I resent the way the company keeps making changes to Fan Pages and their reach, and the difficulties this brings for charities; and I began to resent the burning , itchy, little smartphone application in my pocket that became the first thing I checked in the morning, and the last thing I checked at night.

I was no longer wryly amused by half of Friends’ status updates moaning about Facebook and its latest privacy infringement (like it’s Facebook’s fault and not ours).

And I didn’t like the way I began to judge or like my friends a little less for something they wrote in their status. As they no doubt did with me.

Ultimately, I feel Facebook and I grew apart. We didn’t want the same things anymore. It wasn’t them. It was me.

It feels like closing a door, and getting some privacy again after a five year, eight month relationship that left me dependent.

But wait…I’m sounding melodramatic again. So…See you on Google Plus?*

*Irony alert

Postscript

Since remarking on Twitter and Instagram that I’d quit Facebook, I had a flurry of people saying that had done the same or were dying to but for some reason couldn’t let go yet (keeping touch with family was frequently given). Facebook beware; there is a turning tide.

13 thoughts on “So…I guess I left Facebook

  1. Rob I’ll miss you on Fb but I do totally understand. I actually rather email directly to friends and colleagues for more important things beyond LOL’ing cats and babies!

    I hope we can still network across the pond and share our real time media work with persons-with-disabilities. Take good care and please use your former browsing and sharing time to continue writing those terrific pieces I enjoy reading.

    Cheers! Vince

    _____

    1. Aw thanks Vince. Funnily enough you were one of the people I immediately thought of when I was weighing up ‘losing’ some friends across the pond. But this is not the end! You have my email address, and I will always use Twitter and Google+ (much less intrusive, and more for blogs and work stuff – so perfect).

      Cheers, as ever, for tuning in. Speak soon I promise. Your pal, Rob

  2. You know, I am really glad you did it and respect the personal reasons. I would not say I agree but that’s not the point here. There is a great benefit to your decision – nonprofit audiences looking up to you as a thought leader – which you are – will finally start considering Google+. I cannot believe it took many so long to realise the benefits of this alternative network! Some of us posted about it since the pages on G+ became available but it was too early – back then the general reaction was distrust. It happens with all new tools, I guess. But the timing now and your voice is much more powerful, so really, really good to see you moving there! Your decision was quoted at an event last week and I could see people criticising FB and moving to praise G+ (not sure if due to their conviction or trend, still, it’s exactly what I mean;))

    Saying that I do hope we can simply catch up for a coffee once I’m in LDN;)

    1. Thanks for your comment and kind words Sylwia; and I am blushing at the thought I was quoted at last week’s event!
      I had a G+ account very early on, and set up a Whizz-Kidz one right away (but – rather impatiently – as a person before they introduced organisation accounts…I probably should have waited). But, yes, I was a dissenting voice – and it was you and Roberto Kussabi (then of the British Heart Foundation, but now at Tottenham Hotspur FC) who immediately recognised the importance of G+ particularly in terms of SEO. When I’m wrong or too quick to criticise, I call it 😉

      I was sat with five close friends the other evening, and realised only one of the group remained on Facebook. I really do think people are ‘voting with their feet’ and leaving Facebook slowly but steadily. It seems it isn’t immune to user fatigue after all.

      Give us a shout when you’re next in London. Coffee on me.

  3. I agree with the downsides of Facebook, e.g. oversharing. But for me, it’s a great way to keep in contact with all the friends I’ve meet over the last 7 years (I joined in 2005). I could never leave unless they all did.

  4. I recently shut down my second FB incarnation – the first was just all about dirty jokes with old friends and not much else. The most recent was “somewhat” like the real me, but not totally.
    I do not care for facebook because I am a weird and whimsical terminal adolescent who rarely acts like a real adult, particularly in my personal life. I enjoy reading things that are not on bestseller’s lists and commenting on them. I tend to be more opinionated than most and seldom think before I speak.
    I started noticing that I was actually worrying about things that I posted. Worried that I was offending people, particularly those who might not know me as well as others, and some business associates who don’t know me away from work. I was always writing things that I thought to be compelling or funny at the time, but later, after a change of mood, I found to be childish, or unfunny or whatever.
    I was getting a bit of a complex about it.
    Furthermore, I found the plain vanilla generic postings of most of my ‘friends” to be boring. I can’t help it if I do not find other’s children very interesting. Or their choice of food. Or their sports teams. Or their colleges. Whatever. I wanted to really have real friends that talked about things that I like..
    So I just decided to pull the plug. I have been off for several weeks now and today is the first day that I have even thought about it. So i wanted to see the reasons others left and happened upon your post.
    Enjoyed it. Like the site too.”Like!”

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for tuning in and for commenting on my FB post. I can only echo your sentiments. Whilst I don’t want to be too much of a Facebook hater, and I appreciate why people use and like it, I feel like I’ve grown out of it for so many of the reasons you list.

      Happy non-facebooking, and maybe see you on G+ 😉 Rob

  5. Well hello Rob! I actually was about to contact you via FB the other week and saw we were no longer “friends”. Having found this page I’m pleased to see you’re alive and well and doing what you love! I was going to contact you about coming into RPHS for a careers chat and after seeing our twitter feed today I see somebody has already contacted you without me mentioning a thing! So it’s clearly meant to be…
    I don’t know your email address but please get in touch – bbrake@raynespark.merton.sch.uk

    Speak soon!

    1. A strange set of coincidences! And I don’t think I had any idea you were erm working at my old school? I’ll drop you a line this week. Lovely to hear from you 🙂

  6. I wrote pros and cons list and then began the task of untangling myself. 24 hours clean now and 100% firm in my decision. The reactions from my ‘friends’ ranged from a sort of slighted, hurt anger to complete agreement. Several have joined me in leaving. Facebook has become a reflection of the growing narcissism in our world and a reinforcer of that mentality. It’s great when the penny drops. It is the anti-Christ (probably). Thanks for your writing about it, it helped me in my early recovery. .

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