Why i quit facebook

For those of you who perhaps just follow along Fedora Planet, or just don't do these sorts of things, quite a number of Fedora contributors all hang out on facebook. Between some of the more 'youthfully exuberant' contributors, we have a bit of the usual banter going on. Many of you followed along with my year of Monty Python quotes in my status, and some of you have probably tried to make Ryan Rix lose the game once or thrice. So some of you probably noticed that i deleted my facebook account a couple of weeks ago.

I refrained from commenting on it too much online, because it wasn't so much of a privacy issue as a social experiment on myself. If you go online (and you already are, i assume) you'll see pundits arguing against facebook for reasons ranging from how much of a waste of time it is, to how creepy it is to give random faceless company all this information to all the privacy concerns that go with a central network with poor security and designed to distribute rather than secure information. This was not the reason why i quit; i felt like facebook was taking the place of better things in my life. So, i gave it a couple of weeks to see how things changed, and to comment on it without the accusations of "you only left because you're a paranoid privacy freak".

If you compare how people communicated before Facebook came around and what people consider communication today, things have clearly changed. I'm not talking about the 140 character limits twitter imposes either. My facebook network had some several hundred people in it, many of whom i met randomly, and decided to keep very loose contact with. Instead of making a point to see them now and then, i got more and more focused to commenting and sharing random activities via the platform. When you consider how much mental overhead a single sarcastic facebook comment or post can take up, you have thirty light conversations all running in the background, and they come in via a torrential feed that bombards you with new messages all the time, it gets pretty hectic. It is nice to be able to interact with people you wouldn't otherwise get a chance to stay in contact with so easily, but that's the crux of the problem. All this mental overhead takes time away from staying in touch with the people closer to you. It's also much harder to shut off the flow when it becomes a habit. If i have things to do at home, as long as i don't nip over to the pub for a few beers, i won't be distracted by a constant flow of social information. But when i have a facebook account, it's habit to walk past my laptop, open up a new tab and kill another ten minutes replying to comments. Then when i try to talk to my family or close friends, i don't have the energy left to make a real conversation out of, especially one that doesn't resemble these shallow facebook conversations.

Now that i've gone for two weeks without a facebook account, somehow my life is more bearable. I reckon i'm still easy to find; i still have an Identi.ca and linkedin, and a simple duckduckgo (or google if you're still using that) of my name will tell you pretty much everything you need to know to get in contact with me. But now i have time to actually take things off my todo list, and i can be social without a guilty conscious that i've forgotten to do something, or i'm missing out on a conversation elsewhere.

If you're wondering if you should just never log in anymore or if you should go through the trouble to delete your account, take this into account. If the privacy does bother you at all, you might argue "Facebook has all your information anyways". But consider this, if you delete your account, they won't get any new information, and over time, the info they have on you becomes less and less valuable. I recommend deleting it, if you want to go down that route.