I have been in a love-hate relationship with Facebook for a while now and as of almost two-weeks ago, I decided to delete my account. I took it a step further and instead of doing the default by suspending my account, I actually requested that my account be deleted.
Facebook has felt like a necessary evil in order to stay in touch with friends and family, but I found that my usage habits had changed as well and I didn’t like the result. I think, like most people, Facebook has become a welcome distraction during the day. Work/life/whatever sucks, so let’s see what other people are doing, that sort of thing.
After all the focus on how Facebook and bots contributed to the 2016 US presidential election and listening to podcast episodes like Sam Harris: What is Technology Doing to Us?, I became more aware of my habits and began questioning why I continued to use the service. Was it really to stay-in-touch, or was it more a Pavlovian response to stress?
Ultimately I think it was the latter, which is why I opted to delete my account.
The Deletion Process
On August 21, 2017 I chose to close my account. However, I had enjoyed a bit too much champagne that day due to the solar eclipse and discovered that I hadn’t actually deleted my account, but just disabled it. I get it, you might be having a bad day and want to have an “undo”, but it actually made me more determined to delete it. So the next day I followed Facebook’s instructions and properly deleted the account, or rather started the process of deleting it.
Facebook gives you 14-days to reconsider and if you log in during that time, then the request to delete is cancelled. Again, I get it, you didn’t have a bad day, you had a bad week and you regret your choice. That’s not how I roll so this felt overly controlling and only doubled my resolve. By this time, next week, my account will officially be deleted. This will include all photos, posts and personal data.
To some extent, this is really just an experiment to see what happens as a result of deleting my account. I’m curious what kind of “friction” I’ll run into. Is Facebook nothing more than a hall of mirrors that reflect back on me? Will anyone even know that I’m gone? Who can’t I talk to? What will I miss? These questions kind of excite me because I don’t know the answer and I’m eager to find out.
I still use Twitter, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Apple Messages, Slack, various forums and even IRC (believe it or not), so there are plenty of other ways to be social online without the need for Facebook.
This should be a fun experiment and I’ll let you know how it goes.