4 Things To Consider Before Deleting Your Facebook Profile

Leaving Facebook feels like what I imagine divorce following years of loveless marriage might feels like. What used to be a fulfilling, constructive, and positive relationship became stale and alienating, and refused to let me go.

Facebook behaves like an addiction in the sense that, the longer you use it, the more of your personal capital you invest into it. It retains a monopoly of your contacts, photos, events, etc. Leaving it creates withdrawal not for Facebook itself, but for the aspects social life it facilitated, and made impossible without it, betting that users will always return just because of the sheer immensity of their existence that is contained within its servers.

I do sometimes entertain these dystopian, conspiratorial theories about Facebook, concerns over the degree to which private information is stored, shared, and utilized for profit, but this was not a move of principle on my part. Bored, resentful, tired, curious; it was a whim born out of a long-simmering frustration, that finally led to the end.

It felt like HAL singing “Daisy, Daisy” as I was forced to complete the bizarre technical and emotional obstacle course that Facebook has constructed as a last, desperate plea to stay. After five pages of “Are you sure you want to go?” and the unsettling tagged photos of my friends and loved ones crying out “We will miss you!” – I finally shut it down.

ACCESSIBILITY

ps where did hoopes’ facebook go? am i just dumb and cant find him to invite?

– Excerpt from a nearly missed invitation to a party which was only brought to my attention via alternate channels of communication that I had forgotten even existed.

The “if you aren’t on Facebook you don’t exist” fear is very real. Coming to terms with the fact that this is even a valid concern (and what this says about my life) has been more troubling than leaving Facebook itself. It’s an uncomfortable truth that my ability to quickly reach anyone and be reached is sharply diminished. Facebook’s chat/ message system, for all its counter intuitive and unreliable weirdness, is alarmingly direct, and if everyone I know is glued to one website whenever they get a little down time, that is naturally the best way to contact them.

Of course, anyone I talk to on a daily/ weekly basis has survived my personal Facebook apocalypse, because I have in my possession a) their phone numbers and b) a relatively uninhibited attitude towards directly contacting them, but to my friends from school who live in different cities and who I don’t keep up with regularly, this is a significant obstacle to our long distance, low-activity relationships.

On the other hand, I’ve been forced to reexamine my approach to maintaining these relationships. I pay attention to my phone; my overall flakiness has decreased at a rate in proportion to how long I’ve been without Facebook. Something about being able to communicate anyone online whenever I wanted led to me never wanting to communicate, because I knew I could always do it some other time. Yes, Facebook made me procrastinate being a friend. Now I actively maintain my contacts, seek phone numbers I don’t have, and try to overcome my habit of conflating “reading/ understanding a text message” with “responding to said text message.” I’m beginning to remember the feeling of actually calling someone, for longer than five minutes, just to talk. Remember that?

EFFICIENCY

I spent on average a couple hours a day on Facebook. I think this is pretty normal, even universal. Add up throughout the day how many times you check it, plus the trying to fall asleep late-night binge of newsfeed reloading and random stalking, and it’s easy to see where these hours go. I wish I could say that losing this distraction would free up some of that time, and it did – for other negligent, wasteful pursuits of self-gratification on the internet. There’s still Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. You can ditch Facebook, cut the Gordian knot so to speak, and still be left with the same root causes behind why you spent so much time on it in the first place. Deleting Facebook has had zero effect on how much of my life I waste on the internet.

IMAGE

What happened to your Facebook man I’m trying to creep over here!

– Frantic text from former college roommate expressing his sense of entitlement to publicly available information about my personal life.

As it is a sort of reckless and unconventional move by the standards of most young, American human beings, deleting Facebook presents a host of issues relating to your perception in a Facebook oriented society. Your motivations are scrutinized, especially in regards to your own notions of what the move really means and what you hope to convey about yourself. You can become a pariah, an outcast, perpetually on the outside. (see: recent Kat George article 10 Types Of People I Do Not Trust – “3. People who don’t have Facebook – WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO HIDE?” )

Is it some kind of sad publicity stunt? A virtual internet suicide attempt, a cry for help by an  increasingly marginalized social presence? You will be noticed. Then there is the condescending moral superiority aspect, that you’re just doing it to feel better than everyone else. I think its impossible not to feel slightly proud of the accomplishment in terms of your own personal well-being, but to imagine any degree of conferred status as a result of your holier-than-thou internet asceticism is presumptuous. Leave Facebook for a variety of reasons but avoid making “to be a giant douchebag” one of them.

Attempting to derive meaning from deleting Facebook is ultimately futile; do not go down this road. Your need to simply explain why will get the best of you, and you’ll end up acting either the smug contrarian or the proselytizing elitist, babbling on about the virtues of the non-Facebook life, when in reality your decision to log off is just as meaningless as logging on.

REHABILITATION

You won’t last two weeks.

– Supportive statement from a friend that I should have put money on.

Honestly, I believed him; I still believe him. It’s day to day. There are time where I click the Facebook icon or absentmindedly type in the URL before I catch myself, guiltily. I’ve logged in thousands of times for the past five years. I’ve been on Facebook longer than I’ve known a lot of my friends. Speaking of friends, they have been supportive, making sure they remember to share the thoughts and feelings they express on Facebook to me personally so I’m not left behind. So many times I hear, after not not understanding what someone is talking about, “Well, I wrote about it on Facebook.” That’s what I have to catch up to.

I could go back any second. I want the minutiae, the simple things, the anticipatory rush of nervous joy expanding the notification tab and its cascading list of virtual actions that, through a single tentative click, all represent some small attempt to interact with me. It’s not that I miss being able to immediately convey any thought or feeling instantly to nearly every person in my life, it’s that I miss the chance, however remote, that they would choose to do the same to me. TC mark

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  • http://twitter.com/alfredosays Alfredo Gil

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    Are you on Google+?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1415031788 Sharif Youssef

    I deleted the other day. Just to get some work done (I’m on a break!) and it was a relief, like pulling out a splinter I didn’t know I had. It also feels *sensible* in that it’s not so easy for people to track down all the stupid things I say on the internet. Now they have to do some research.

  • Orkey

    this is so depressing.

  • http://ellesseserrano.blogspot.com/ Ellesse

    To quote a friend: “I always thought there was a special link between Facebook and real life… as in if you deleted your Facebook, you had just died or something.”

    ^^ Facebook mirroring a living and breathing experience? Humorous, yes. But an absolutely terrifying comparison!

    Annnd many thanks for bringing this issue up. I have an inkling Facebook deleting will become quite trendy in the near future… 

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    My Facebook dependent friends would consider it a personal affront if I deleted my Facebook. Awkward. 

  • Guest

    when i read the title i thought this piece was going to be dumb, but it was good. a lot smarter and more nuanced than the average tc article 

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/55j

  • space mtn

    i deleted my facebook because i wanted to disappear, and it worked.  people forgot

  • Tasha_ch

    I LOVED this. It was actually a New Years Resolution of mine to give up facebook, and 8 months in it feels great. Now don’t get me wrong, being a social ‘ghost’ because let’s be honest that’s what you become when you aren’t on, is at times exhilarating and sad.  But ironically given the strength of my former addiction, if you type f into my toolbar facebook is the first thing that crops up.

    Also, I think anyone that does give up fb does inevitably turn into a bit of a self-righteous tool – this doens’t last long though, because to go from being the one ‘in the know’ to you’re so out of the know that it stops being cool in that vaguely hipster ‘unknown band kinda way’ and you feel a bit left behind.

    It’s hard for people to comprehend WHY you would take yourself out the loop, out of mainstream social life. Because humans have this pack mentality where we need to belong, and making the choice to NOT be on facebook is like you’re rejecting that heard mentality. It’s true, that look when people ask, ‘oh let me add you on facebook’ it’s actually like airing a dirty secret..’Uhh, sorry I’m not actually on facebook’. You will quite clearly never. see/hear. (from) this. person. again. (fact).

    Awkward.

    I deactivated so I could focus on my Masters, and I made myself the promise that as soon as I handed in my dissertation (in 2 weeks) I would go back on. I will go back on, but it will be to say goodbye and delete forever. It’s very much, you either have it, or you don’t. And I just don’t understand Google+ but I like hand-writing letters, I like sending long emails. And most of all, I love being able to spend time reading blogs. :D

    Maybe it’s an English thing. :s

  • Taytamon

    Coming into 4 months of my Facebook free life and I’ve lost 75% of friends AND communication to friends. They literally can not
    think of any other to invite me to things and when
    confronted, their only excuse is “You don’t have Facebook anymore.”
    People will use the fact that you don’t have one against you and don’t seem to realise how scummy they’re becomming just because Facebook has integrated into /and if not the only/ method of communication.
    As for ‘deleting’ myself from society I can proudly say – I HAVE NO REGRETS >:)

  • Meghan

    Quit December 6th…I know it sounds dramatic but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I encourage everyone to do it; you’ll find that you’re a lot less depressed about the current state of your life vs. others. However, I DID become addicted to Tumblr in its place. At least it inspires me instead of bringin’ me down!

  • gabriella

    Been fb clean for 3 months…my only regret is that I didn’t take all of my pictures with me…I could have made an awesome scrap book!  

  • Vickycheng

    110 people shared this on Facebook.

  • Lore

    I waste enough time following a few people on twitter. NO more facebook. Tootles.

  • Olivia5670

    It’s depressing how much people rely on facebook.  I really want to delete mine because ever since I’ve had one I’ve become lazy, gained about 15 pounds, and never get school work done.  It’s such a good distraction and I’m getting sick of it.  The only negative part is not getting to interact people you normally wouldn’t interact with, but it’s worth deleting if it gets me off my lazy ass. 

    • guest

      delete it!!!!!! this is the exact same reason why i deleted my account today.

  • Anonymous

    It’s been a year since I deleted Facebook. I got rid of all my internet social networking type things because one day I googled my name (haven’t we all?) and there it was–everything–my whole life could easily be seen, analyzed, accessed by anyone at any time for any use. My thoughts, my words, my pictures, my friends, my address, things I didn’t even personally put on the internet. Not to sound paranoid but it scared me. I didn’t always censor myself the way I should have. Who knows what kind of life I’ll have in 10, 20 years? I deleted because I wanted the option to forget about things, and have other people forget about them too. But I didn’t realize that for so many people, if my profile picture wasn’t intermittently popping up on their feed, it would be so easy to forget about me.

    But I do hate when people ask why I got rid of it, because I always end up sounding self-important when I try to explain the above.

  • Sophia

    I’ve been contemplating this for a while now, having this exact same internal dilemma. But I feel like, as a college student, Facebook seems almost necessary to stay in the loop :/

  • http://twitter.com/dianasof Diana Z.

    I think that as great as facebook is as “making connections” and “keeping you in touch” it also just makes us lazy friends. Why do you even need to call or e-mail this person, since you know what they’re up to because of their status or photos they’ve been tagged in? People can just check one box and invite their entire friends list to their party, so (because I’m very insecure-I admit that) you don’t really know if your friend wants you there or if it was just convenient for them to add you to the list.
    But then again, I also have had a thread going with 5 of my best friends, who all live in different places. When one of us needs advice, or someone to talk things through with, that thread will be there.

  • dip

    leaving facebook is like disconnecting from the matrix

    you’re the one

  • Alex

    I am not the only one? lolz I didnt deactivate, i took the drastic measures and deleted the account. best decision ever made. what a waste of time… seriously. we arent in kansas anymore…lol hahaha (by kansas i meant high school)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FDSGEPIRHQDAE6YMNLSL7N3274 Minho Fdsfds

    One of the best things I’ve ever done. 

  • Quarsis

    I deleted mine about 6 months ago, and I feel so much happier and more content. BUT, I have lost 90% of my real life friends, which probably means they weren’t really friends. I keep hoping more people will drop out and go back to traditional, more meaningful methods of communication, but it seems like a slow process. I now meet new people and get to know them gradually, instead of instantly ‘friending’ them and doing the inevitable trawl through their facebook to find out everything in one go. It feels much more natural and healthier to learn about people via real interactions. I do miss a lot of my old friends, and feeling included, but when you realise all those facebook interactions were totally superficial, then it’s easier to let go.

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on lionking91 and commented:
    Very true. All things I’m currently doing since I’ve now not had a facebook for almost TWO MONTHS. Holy shit.

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    4 Things To Consider Before Deleting Your Facebook Profile | Thought Catalog

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