DISCLAIMER: Let me first start off by saying that I am not in anyway sipping the Haterade over Facebook. I‘m not out there rallying around the whole privacy movement that thinks “Facebook is Satan personified as a social networking dot com” and that “if you don’t quit it you’ll burn for eternity.” My thoughts about those people have not strayed from comments I made earlier last year. I’m merely pointing out my thoughts and recent decision to make a change in my life. With that cleared up I present to you: A SERIOUS & FUNNY GUIDE FOR THE HESITANT FACEBOOK REFUGEE!
PART A: MY BEEF WITH FACEBOOK AND MYSPACE
Last night I made a life changing decision. I decided to pack up my things and depart from my internet haven of too many years: Facebook. It was a rather difficult decision for me to make because I was one of those people who you could probably call an “addict”. I loved Facebook. I thought the whole idea of this vast social networking site that made staying in touch with people as simple as a few keystrokes and clicks of the mouse was absolutely the “moon landing” of my generation. It was on my Android and by God I used it.
Then I started actually thinking about what I was doing.
I can’t say that it was spontaneously something I decided to do. I had been reading other people’s testimonials and blog posts about how far along they were in their recovery from Facebook addiction. Everywhere I’d go I’d read the same old slogan: You think quitting cigarettes is hard, try quitting Facebook.
At first I thought to myself, “Shit that’s so stupid. It’s just Facebook!” Then I started actually thinking about how much this social networking site had become not only a support beam in my life but a major influence on the outside world. Think about it. We created Facebook and then Facebook basically created a sub-cultural movement in our own lives. The phrase “unfriended”. It’s now a word in English language. A social networking site created a verb.
Every modem of technology, advertising, communication, insists itself upon Facebook. Retail chains now offer special coupon deals and sales through Facebook. Their own television ads even beg of you to “Like” them on Facebook. If that’s not sad enough, car companies are now spending money on developing hands-free technology that’ll rattle off the latest gossip on the passenger’s news feeds. People were driving themselves off cliffs because they needed to check their notifications. It is everywhere. We’re constantly being barraged by this social media networking site whether you want to or not.
One of the things that always annoyed me about Facebook was the same kind of thing that had annoyed me about its predecessor in internet fads: Myspace. Somehow whatever happened online played a direct or indirect part in the drama that occurred in your real life. I remember being in high school and hearing about fights inside and outside of my circle of friends that involved somebody doing or saying something over Myspace. The whole internet bullying thing really came to head with social media sites. Thinking back on it now I’d bet that the biggest source of bullying in my high school wasn’t actually in the high school. It was on the school’s forum page on Myspace. It seems like as soon as people got behind their keyboards there was suddenly a security blanket that went up. Suddenly people felt more confident spewing venom about their peers. Threads would pop-up instigating arguments between students and other students and everybody would laugh and get their chuckles in until the next school day. This was usually when the fists would start flying. The laughs would be over as the squad cars pulled up.
Remember this story? See my point? Hiding behind the keyboard.
I’m not saying that Facebook and Myspace were or are inherently evil. However I do think that both of these sites are having a substantial effect on the human psyche. People are taking what happens on these sites a little too seriously. Experts and psychologists want to say that graphic and violent television over the last decade or two has seriously desensitized our youth. I’m here telling you that Facebook has over-sensitized our population.
How many times have you found yourself in some form of altercation (whether over Facebook or outside it) because of “unfriending” or a refused friend request? I’m sure that if you’ve had any form of long term connection with FB or a social life at all you’ve been in those shoes. Think about it. Your OWN profile that contains your OWN personal information that you are the sole domestic owner of (regardless of what any contractual or privacy agreement with Facebook says) is now subject to somebody else’s influence. Your friends are telling you who to be friends with and what to share. Couple that with what recently happened involving a social media offshoot that stole information from public Facebook profiles--tell me it’s not making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck a little bit. If you have any trace of pride and self-preservation in your temple of being then it damned well should.
It also irks me that people are literally obsessed with Facebook. When your conversations outside of Facebook involve FACEBOOK there is a problem.
So now that you know my beef…
PART B: SECURITY & INSECURITY
If anybody has been on FB for longer than a week they’ve witnessed the many personifications of the website over the few years since its inception. In fact it got quite annoying for many of us users on the basis that as soon as we got used to “Version 2.0”, Facebook would be updating itself to the completely different “Version 2.2”. User familiarization easily became disorienting and many people started threatening to abandon the site if Facebook continued to play games. From these very “tweeks” and “updates” the whole anti-Facebook privacy movement was born and I think rightfully so. People were absolutely right to be critical of the fact that when Facebook would suddenly decide to update itself it would conveniently throw everybody’s privacy settings into limbo--that “limbo” usually meaning fully visible to everyone. Facebook did recently clean up its act and allowed for people to set their own security preferences. Some of the anti-Facebook crowds still screamed that FB made the custom settings too complicated and time consuming. A common argument would read something like…
“I had no idea that everyone meant everyone on Facebook. I thought it meant everyone in my friend’s list.”
Now they’d have a good point if it weren’t for the fact that right below the option to make your profile “visible to everyone” was an option to make your profile “visible to only friends.” Facebook shouldn’t be held responsible for a user’s own stupidity and lack of linguistic comprehension skills. That’s where my major problem lies with these groups. None of them want to take accountability for their own actions. The user shouldn’t be held responsible for being stupid? Suddenly it’s FB’s fault that a teacher posted a video of herself binge drinking and the school decided to can her? Suddenly it’s FB’s fault that you have a bunch of photos of yourself doing illegal things and nobody wants to hire you?
Safety and stupidity are two terms that are on far opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. Yet these social networking safety activists continue to present themselves as advocates for the “stupid” rather than the “vulnerable”.
However, Facebook is creepy on a lot of levels. By far one trend on Facebook that I will never understand is the whole “Facebook Places” thing. I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone in their right mind would ever post the following over Facebook.
“Ryan Smith just checked into “My House” With Four Friends”
Can I ask who cares? Maybe it has to do with a lot of the other features of Facebook. Maybe it all plays to that primitive urge in all of us to be in the spotlight. We all want attention and acceptance. What better way to make yourself look popular than to flaunt where you’re at and who you’re with? What better way to also open yourself up to stalkers and criminals?
It would be bad enough to just have the whole Facebook Places thing set up for the purpose of online voyeurism. However Facebook has to do what it does best and take it the next level. With the whole “Places” feature you can see not only who those four friends are but where exactly “My House” is. In fact if you really wanted to you could get online mapped-out directions to Ryan’s house. Now hey wouldn’t that be a bitch for Ryan if he decided to announce to Facebook that he and his family were going on vacation to the Bahamas for a week. Empty house for a week. His house is listed on “Places” still with directions to it. Hello burglary.
Of course I have to admit it is quite funny to “check into” other random people’s houses and creep them out. I mean if you don’t mind the fact that your joke could be misinterpreted and you could end up in jail or publicly ostracized as a creep. I’m just saying. It is wicked funny though. Ha Ha.
That being said let’s talk about how to actually become a Facebook refugee yourself and what to expect.
PART C: THERE IS NO CHANTIX OR PATCH FOR FACEBOOK BUT HERE’S HOW I QUIT!
Step One: Deactivation vs. Deletion
You must first decide how far you want to take this. There’s a difference between being a Facebook Refugee and being in Facebook Exile. If you simply want to deactivate your account, (hides your profile until you decide to log back in) which is what I did though I doubt I’ll ever log back in, simply go to your account settings and select “Deactivate Account”. Facebook will then subject you to this sappy-ass tearjerker page about how all your “friends” will miss you when in reality nobody is really going to care except Facebook. My God you have your friends phone numbers. Text them.
Getting back on track to what I was saying simply give Face book a reason to why your leaving. There’s a dozen options to choose from that range from “This is temporary, I’ll be back” to pretty much “I’ve been mentally raped.” You can then decide on whether you want to opt into/out of email notifications and leave other suggestions and comments for Facebook before making your way down the road to freedom. I suggest writing an epic Braveheart-esque speech in the comments section for good measure. Playing some orchestral soundtrack music on a boom box in the background and sporting war paint can also add to the atmosphere.
If you want to delete your account permanently go here. I haven’t followed through on this process but it looks long and tedious. I also would not want to risk Facebook hunting me down and firebombing my house…not that they would ever do such a thing. I hope.
Step Two: Coming Out To Your Friends As A Facebook Refugee (or Dead Man Walking if you decided to permanently delete your account)
If you were like me and deactivated your account suddenly and dramatically (In my case it was in the middle of an altercation with a number of my buddies) you may need to brace yourself for a bunch of angrily worded text messages wanting to know why you “blocked” them. What you need to understand is that to them it looks like you simply unfriended and blocked them because your name will no longer appear in their friend roster or (to add insult to injury) search results. You may be able to avoid this step by posting a message explaining that you’re leaving Facebook. Do this clearly and firmly. Avoid posting statuses like:
“I will miss you all”
The following statuses will put you on suicide watch or possibly the TSA’s No Fly List.
Step Three: The Withdrawals & Alternatives
If you were anything like me the lack of Facebook in your life is going to be a little bit of a culture shock. Whenever I would log onto my internet from my computer I would habitually type “Facebook” into my Google search bar and that did not change after I deactivated my account. In fact I still occasionally subconsciously type it into my search bar and feel stupid. This will pass…I hope.
If you had Facebook on your phone be prepared to take it off of your menu screen or you will be haunted. Luckily for me I have a Twitter account which I abuse regularily (I love me some Twitter) and a job that requires me to regularily be checking my emails and staying on top of the latest drug news. I’m also a full-time student. You can do the math there. I live, breathe, and eat off of my phone and internet connection.
Getting back to my love affair with Twitter. Twitter is absolutely freaking awesome if you’re a news/politics oriented blogger. As somebody who often cites (and bitches regularly about) current events in his posts I can tell you that Twitter is such a valuable tool for me. News spreads so quickly and trends tend to buck information out there faster than many news sources tend to. Why do you think CNN, FOX, & MSNBC all have analysts following Twitter? That’s where it’s at for me. I would much rather be able to read Egyptian citizens’ tweets from the heart of the turmoil than be barraged with status after status about how drunk Rachel got last night and how big her boyfriend’s junk is. Sorry if high school drama doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I’ve got other things that matter in my life.
PART D: LIBERATION AT LAST!!
While it may not seem so liberating at first (For as much as Facebook has parasitically attached itself to everything and everywhere it might seem like a pain in the ass) I can assure you that the vast majority of people who have quit Facbeook and lived to talk about it are far happier this way. I’ve been away from it for a day and I can tell you it’s actually pretty cool to be back with just “my real friends”. No more 300 extra people spouting their stupid pointless comments about what they think about me. No more Farmville invitations. No more friend requests from people that you’ve meant once drunk on a bet if you’re lucky. No more poke wars (I’m gonna admit I’ll probably miss those) and no more creepy tagged photos. You my friend are now off the grid. You’re free.
Fly on little wing, fly on.
Until next time,
Peace & Love