Why I deleted my Facebook profile: Q&A with a former Facebook addict

About a year ago, nearly 40,000 people vowed to delete their Facebook accounts to mark “Quit Facebook Day,” but since that time I have yet to know somebody who actually removed their profile from the social network. I’ve always wanted to chat with somebody who went through with it and ask them a few questions. This week, I crossed paths with a former “friend” who I had lost touch with – perhaps because she quit Facebook. During our conversation it came out that she had deleted her account and she was open to answering a few questions.

Not surprisingly, she had some privacy concerns that contributed to the decision, but I didn’t expect that this user’s biggest issue with the social network was the lack of interest she had in many of the posts from “friends.” I love the perspective of this person who went against-the-grain (especially for her demographic) and quit Facebook. Ultimately, she stopped doing something that was no longer working for her. She even feels she’s more productive at home and work without the distraction.

Here are the highlights from the interview:

Q1 – How long were you thinking about deleting your Facebook account?

I hadn’t thought of actually deleting my entire account until about a week before I went ahead and did it. A couple months before that someone I knew from before my highschool days commented on one of my photos. I didn’t even know I had that person as a “friend,” so I wound up going through and deleting a bunch of contacts I never kept in touch with.  The more I thought about it, the more it weirded me out that people I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years could “creep” me and see what I’ve been up to without me knowing.

I also found myself actually getting frustrated with peoples’ status updates. What makes people think their lives are so intriguing that they need to post that they’re “stuck in traffic” or “had a bad day”? I more or less just lost interest in it after that and finally decided to delete my account before going away on holidays.

Q2 – Were you addicted to Facebook?

There was a time that yes, I definitely think I was. I was in a car accident a couple of years ago. It wasn’t serious, but I updated my status from my phone while waiting for the police to arrive. It got back to my parents (who aren’t on Facebook) before I could even call them to let them know what had happened. Looking back, I realize I was one of those people [who think their lives are so intriguing that they need to post EVERYTHING]. What makes me so important that I need to update my status with something so useless? It’s kind of embarrassing.

Q3 – What were your top 3 reasons for quitting Facebook?

  1. Lack of interest
  2. Pressure to always be monitoring what people are doing or how they’re interacting with your profile (photo comments, wall posts, etc.)
  3. The idea that people I didn’t know anymore could easily “keep tabs on me”

Q4 – Do you miss it?

I sometimes miss the “idea” of Facebook… that it’s easier to keep in touch with people or to get involved in upcoming events or gatherings.

Q5 – What has been the biggest change in your life since leaving Facebook?

Overall, I’m more productive (at home and work). I’ve started calling people again instead of messaging them through Facebook or writing on their wall. I didn’t realize I missed that aspect of human interaction until I deleted my account.

Q6 – Would you delete your Facebook profile again?

Yes.

Q7 – Any final thoughts?

I understand the allure, the convenience, and the “entertainment” aspect. I think that there definitely were ways I could have better managed my Friends list or security settings, but in the end, for me, it was just easier to delete the entire account because I didn’t feel I was getting anything out of it anymore.

Has anybody else quit Facebook? Is anybody thinking about it now? Leave a comment and share your experience/thoughts.

Advertisements

16 Responses to “Why I deleted my Facebook profile: Q&A with a former Facebook addict”

  1. Thanks for sharing this David. I have considered deleting my account for awhile. This may have helped me in my decision. Everything your friend relays in this post is exactly what my thoughts are regarding Facebook.

    Like

  2. Thanks David. I have unfriended some friends who were posting information that was of no interest or use to me and I will likely delete more. Facebook simply gobbles up too much time. I have also “hidden” feeds from others so I don’t waste time reading them complaining about the weather, telling me where they’ve travelled or (sigh) the break up of a partner. I have organized my feeds using FB “lists” so I can easily prioritize according to social and work.
    I can’t see ever deleting my account because it’s a useful journalistic tool and our students need to know how to use it properly and efficiently. But its relevance to me is in decline.

    Like

  3. Hi David,

    I deleted my account over a year during my senior year of college. I have spoken with many friends in an effort to “help them quit too” and have been met with limited success. As I tell each one of them… “Trust me, it’s possible,” but my generation has a hard time grasping a reality without Facebook. What a strange irony.

    I get alot of pushback too, even from people I’m close with who say, “if you aren’t on it, you can’t possibly understand it.” Another irony… The only reason I am off it is because I understand the power it had (both good and bad) and have come to my own conclusion that the benefits did not personally the negative potential.

    I sometimes like to run a thought exercise with people to try and help them breakdown what I like to call the “digital divide”. If I went on your Facebook page tomorrow I could get a list of your friends, a slew of photos of you, your friends, and family, I could find out your place of work, where you’ve been recently, who you’ve talked to, what you’ve said… And so many more personal details. If I gathered that information up… Let’s say a few photos of you and your family, some info on where you’ve been recently, and some transcripts of recent conversations and printed them out, slipped them into a large yellow envelope, and mailed them to your house anonymously it would send shivers up your spine! Who sent this?! How did they get pictures of me?! How do they know whom I am speaking with?!

    Each day we give hundreds of people digital access to that sort of information and think nothing of it. But the moment it becomes real, tangible, and identifiably personal I think people would realize the gravity of their decision to share so much of themselves so freely on the web.

    I quit well over a year ago and have not looked back since. I am proud of my decision, as small as it may be, but in the end… I think I’m on the losing side of this one.

    All the best!

    Like

    • **did not personally OUTWEIGH the negative potential.

      Like

    • I really like your perspective in the 3rd paragraph.

      I think it boils down to the idea that social media users not equating their actions online to an offline equivalent. Your point about facebook illustrates this. People feel that they have a (false?) sense of security and privacy online, and may think that only the people who comment of like their posts read it. In reality they are operating in a publicly visible and recorded environment, essentially losing control of content once it’s posted. So the offline equivalent to a wall post isn’t sharing an inside joke with friends at home, it would be closer to a televised public meeting with thousands (or millions) of viewers.

      Thoughts?

      Like

      • I agree… The false sense of security/privacy is what is most troubling. I’d even push it a step further and say that our newest generation of users may not even be considering issues of privacy and or security…they are growing up with the technology and it is becoming an integral part of their social dynamic. To many teenagers social media is the status quo, and often times we never challenge the status quo. So to them this isn’t a privacy issue but a social necessity.

        The younger you are the harder it is to understand the implications of your digital presence. I have said for years now that we won’t be able to find a viable candidate for public office in 20 years from now because there will be more pictures of underage drinking, bad behavior, and archived missteps. OR maybe better yet we will be forced to get over our prudish public persona! So th loss of control you speak of us undeniably real and I think only time will tell how society will manage a new and unprecendented transparency. If Anthony Weiner (an undeniably bright, intelligent, and accomplished professional) can have such poor judgment in the digital space we can only wonder the regrettable decisions millions of young adults, professionals, and casual users make each day.

        I think Facebook can be an important social tool if properly used. I also think it is non-essential… But for how long, who knows.

        Like

  4. I don’t know where this idea of “online is out-of-sight” mentality comes from (Anthony Weiner reference). The complete opposite is true…Online = in-the-spotlight.

    As you refer to, the tools of social media are powerful and the are important modes of communication, if used properly. When it comes to the idea that “the younger you are the harder it is to understand the implications of your digital presence,” I find that though they may not be aware, they are willing to learn. I have the pleasure of teaching courses in social media at Algonquin College. Lecture #2 is a 2-hour module on online reputation management (much of it is captured here – https://davidhallsocialmedia.com/2011/02/02/reputationmanagement/). During this section, I can really see the “light bulbs go on” and their use of social media evolve. My point here is that online reputation management is now a critical life skill and it’s something that needs to be taught at a young age to make it the norm, not the exception. How are they expected to know this without proper instruction?

    To your point about “maybe better yet we will be forced to get over our prudish public persona!” I think we will get there, not soon, but we will. Perhaps by 2030 we will be able to accept that sometimes people drink alcohol, post silly videos, of just say the wrong thing….

    Like

  5. I was a facebook “addict” too and for a LONG time. Recently I realized, it’s just a waste of time. I go to college and instead of studying, I spent so much time updating my status, my profile, photo albums etc etc. I started getting low grades, lazy, started dropping classes, basically lost interest in the world outside the web. I would even get depressed if I didn’t get an update! Every minute I had, I wanted to check what people were up to. During class breaks, I would rush to the college library and quickly log in to facebook to check for any updates. I soon started feeling like a drug addict. And then one fine day, I decided that’s it, I need to focus on school and get more productive. So I started out by first deactivating my account. I did this so that I get used to not logging in for a few days. And then when I would log in after those few days, I would feel much less “addicted”. And once, I even deactivated my account two times in a row. When this happens, Facebook doesn’t let you log into it until 24hours(and sometimes it takes longer). That was another way to keep myself away from it. Cause even if I wanted to log in, I couldn’t! Well eventually I got used to it and then I was more “prepared” to delete my account(it felt like preparing for war )It seriously takes a lot of courage to say good bye to those 100 or so friends and pictures. And when I finally did it, I felt a huge wave of relief! it felt good :D and now I’m a better person, much more productive, focused on school and really every bit of my life. I recommend people should do it.

    Like

  6. I am glad to see that I am not the only one who deleted my facebook account. Its been 5 months since I deleted my account and I’m much happier then before. One thing about me is this….I’m not a bragger and I really dislike people who are. Facebook (in my opinion) was just that, bragging rights lol.

    Like

  7. Why I deleted my FB account
    Uninspiring and uninteresting posts, FB tends to draw people to a lowest common denominator with superficiality and banality often the norm. I noticed interesting or inspiring articles often went without comment while trivial ones would get a lot of attention.
    Many posters appear not to engage brain before posting.
    Mundane content, why should I care if a ‘friend’ is on a bus or in a coffee shop or has only two hours to go until they finish work?
    The FB business agenda is about gathering your data to sell, it is not really about FB’s users.
    FB is ubiquitous and intrusive and I have concerns about both privacy and security. There is a risk of being lured by scams or invited into questionable games.
    Ultimately the fear that if I make a mistake I will lose control of my computer or of my finances.
    In my opinion Mark Zuckerberg appears not to be the sort of person I would either like or trust.
    FB language is irritating, I did not have 48 ‘friends’ any more than some people have several hundred or even thousand. ‘Like’ is also used in a limited sense, if I want to signal I agree or approve of a comment about a fatal road accident does that mean I should ‘like’ it? And as for ‘poke’ – how annoying!
    The layout, colours etc. are about as boring as Mark Zuckerberg’s grey hoodie.
    The comments look undifferentiated unless people have chosen to place an eye-catching picture. In a room full of friends and acquaintances I will probably be mutually drawn to those I am closer to, they will look bigger or brighter or more attractive in the room. On FB everything looks the same.
    It is far harder to permanently delete your account than to start one up and FB will hold onto some data ‘for technical reasons.’
    I instinctively distrust anything this big and powerful. FB is an enormous company and in my opinion lacks transparency or the ability to listen.

    Like

  8. For some of us deleting or stopping an activity is a positive solution that allows our time to be spent with greater meaning. As well, there are activites that we can improve upon rather than quit. For me social media falls into the second. Thanks for the article. Jill

    Like

  9. So yesterday, I deleted my facebook account for a number of reasons. It was hard, all my friends have a facebook account, I mean who doesnt I’m a sixteen year old girl for crying out loud. I will admit the fact I was extremely addicted and checked it every day for about a year. But I remember how life was before I had a facebook, how much I enjoyed life not worrying about what all my friends were doing. Over time I come to realize how stupid the whole “liking” things are. This year my grades abnormally dropped, coincidence maybe? And was there a real point for me to have one at all? As I look back on this year I wonder how my life would be different if I didnt have a facebook, believe it or not I think it would change dramatically. Thanks for writing this article, it basically explains what I’ve been thinking too. However I love talking to my friends on there, but I feel like thats not really living life the the fullest. Home time should be spent reading and watching movies. Facebook is a stupid addiction that is taking over the world, a source of unecessary communication.

    Like

  10. I really like the idea of Facebook, it’s the execution of it that’s flawed. I disables my account for a few months until I can figure out how to manage my account. There are certain things I enjoy about it, reading interesting articles, looking through my talented photographers albums (and messaging them for help/advice) and of course staying in touch with family who live far away.

    The problem is somehow Facebook has turned into highschool. Somehow (since I feel bad declining or deleting people’s fried requests) I have all these people I know from high school who dont actually know me on my list and it must be a certain demographic because the useful things are hidden by the sheer volume f useless things. Plus I’m starting to get angry with people I actually like for over sharing. A (20 somethung) friend’s and her husband shared her hysterectomy story (from intal diagnosis to waiting for surgery, after surgery etc) all on Facebook. It was so unnecessary and it bothered me quite a bit. Its just becoming way too much.

    The other major problem I found that when meeting/hanging out with people I didn’t know very well like my cousins fiancé, coworkers etc) they had already formed an idea of what i wos be like based on my Facebook pictures and updates. Which often wasn’t true! It was really odd.

    I prefer blogs because as personal as they are they’re often full of organized thought and commentary and you can choose what you’d like to consume.

    Meh. I feel a bit strange without it but at the same time very liberated.

    Like

  11. I just deleted my facebook about two days ago. I really did enjoy facebook for while, but in the past year I really just didn’t like it anymore. It wasn’t making me feel good about myself. Even though a know not to worry about what other people are doing that’s better than me, or what I’m missing out on now that I have a one year old baby. I really think subconsciously reading through facebook’s news feeds or peoples pictures, it was sticking in my brain, and making me feel bad about myself. I would even have dreams about people on facebook, people I haven’t spoken to in so long! I feel like I don’t have any really connection to this people on facebook, but in real life I do with my few close friends, and family, but they don’t need to find me on facebook to contact me. I rather meet people and talk in person, and be free from all the facebook delusions. I just feel like if Woody Guthrie was alive I don’t think he would have a facebook.
    “Hey I’m Mallory, and I don’t have a facebook.” It’s such a relieve.

    Like

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: