I stopped using Facebook before it was cool.
Facebook changed the internet when it first came out, but it quickly turned into something that made the internet worse. I stopped using Facebook when I realized how much it was manipulating me and what it was leading to.
These days lots of people are signing off Facebook forever, but they aren’t quitting social media; instead, they are just moving to another platform.
If you are curious about why someone would quit Facebook, check out the reasons why I decided to say goodbye.
1) I Was Wasting My Time
The biggest reason why I stopped using Facebook was that it was wasting my time. Unmistakably it is up to me to control where my time goes, but with Facebook, it was so easy to stare and scroll for half an hour without even noticing what I was doing. On top of this, often, I’d go onto my phone to check a message or email, and I’d see a notification from the Facebook app and would get pulled in.
Wasting time on Facebook is pretty much a given; the app is designed to distract us and keep us using it no matter what. Besides, there is so much content that you can keep on scrolling through it even after you’ve done what you needed to do. Along with the obvious distractions, games and apps within Facebook used to be time sucks on their own, so in a way, there were distractions within distractions.
Once I stopped using Facebook, I noticed that I had much more time on my hands, but I also had to be careful that I didn’t let that time go to waste on another social media app. But once I stopped wasting my time, it was easier to go to bed at a decent time, and I didn’t perpetually have distractions to keep me from the work I needed to get finished.
2) I Got Into Stupid Arguments
Everyone on Facebook has an opinion about everything, so there is always lots of back and forth about topics. When I was younger, I always wanted to correct the record on things that I knew were wrong, so I’d state my opinion and get into debates with anyone who would allow it. Although at times, it was fun, it was mostly a waste of time.
If I’ve learnt anything with age, it is that most people are wrong most of the time, but there is nothing I or anyone else can do about that so it is best to let go. While this is a somewhat depressing discovery, it is also freeing because if you know you can’t change people’s minds, you won’t waste your time trying to do it.
The thing about arguments and debates on Facebook is that they are mostly based on overly simplistic framings of issues. Generally speaking, people want to do good, but when an issue is framed in a misleading way, it creates debate where there wouldn’t be disagreement in real life. The sorts of stupid arguments that happen on Facebook aren’t any different from those that occur in other places online, but what is different is the ease of use that Facebook creates.
An important reason why I stopped using Facebook was that I got into too many stupid arguments, which often left me more frustrated than satisfied.
3) I Was Keeping Up With People I Didn’t Know Anymore
Something great about life before Facebook was that if people left our lives, they were gone, but with Facebook, we started to re-connect with the people who were no longer a part of our lives. Part of this had to do with the gamification of adding friends and the dopamine shots we got out of building a collection of ‘friends.’ Yet, at the same time, most of the people I was connecting with were no longer a part of my life nor what I would consider a friend.
There are probably ten people with whom I regularly keep in touch, outside of work, home or school. Yet, at the same time, on Facebook, I had well over 150 and maybe even 200 plus friends. The thing was that for the most part, I was using Facebook to connect with those ten true friends and all the other people were sort of superficial connections, but they kept showing up in my feed.
In the early days of Facebook, you saw everyone’s posts; but now, it’s more personalized.
I’m a private person, and I don’t keep in touch with many people, but using Facebook went against that part of my nature, and was a big reason why I stopped using Facebook. I believe that people from the past belong in the past; and if we truly wanted them in our lives, we would see them and they wouldn’t just be passive online connections. If we don’t have a real connection, we might as well disconnect altogether.
4) It Was Making Me Depressed
Wasting my time, seeing my progress compared to strangers and having stupid arguments all lead to me feeling bad about myself. This, of course, is my subjective experience, and there could have been other factors that were contributing to my feelings at the time, but generally speaking, using Facebook didn’t make me feel good about myself.
Everyone’s experience on Facebook is different, but Facebook researchers run experiments where they adjusted the content to see if it would affect people’s emotions, and it did. So we know Facebook has power and influence over our feelings and thus the way we feel on any given day. I’d say for myself, it wasn’t so much the content that was the problem, but rather how I was responding to it.
In a way, that was what lead me to waste my time on stuff that didn’t matter when there was a lot that I could have been doing that mattered.
A big reason why I stopped using Facebook was that it didn’t help me feel better, sometimes I got a dopamine boost from Likes or Friend requests, but otherwise, it sucked the life out of me. Any tool can be used for good or bad, but for me, Facebook was always contributing to making me feel like crap.
5) There Was Too Much Virtue Signalling and Clicktivism
There is a lot of messed-up stuff going on in the world, and there might be things that we can do about it, but liking or sharing something on Facebook doesn’t make any real difference. People on Facebook are always sharing their social justice pet projects, and while it is essential to care about social issues, social media sharing regularly results in satisfaction without real action.
Many things that matter to us bother us if we don’t make any effort to do something about them, but with social media, we can get the satisfaction of action without truly doing anything. Sharing an article helps inform, but it also tells people there is something else they can’t do anything about. Real change happens when people get out on the streets or send letters to their elected representatives.
Sharing and clicking online give us a hit of satisfaction and might even clear our conscience, but it does nothing to make the world a better place.
A huge reason why I stopped using Facebook was that there were so many people pretending to be good humans by clicking the like button and posting links, but they never did anything in the real world to make the world a better place. Facebook exists for entertainment, but it is also a trap that steals people’s good intentions and turns them into advertising revenue.
6) Facebook Was Telling Me How to Think
In the earlier days of Facebook, the content was mostly based on what your friends were posting, so even if you didn’t agree, you still saw it most of the time. But as the technology matured, Facebook got better at figuring out what people engaged with and, as a result, flooded them with that kind of content that would keep them occupied, while at the same time this made everything they disagreed with disappear.
On the regular internet, when you use a search engine, you type in what you are looking for, and you get the results; at that point, you can choose what you want to see. But on Facebook, the search isn’t as much of a feature; instead, you get a personalized feed that is curated by Facebook’s algorithms. The problem here is that what we consume informs us about how to think concerning the world around us.
When something else controls what we see and consume, that something else is essentially telling us how to think.
Whenever I went on Facebook, and always saw the same sort of stuff, no matter what I was curious about at the time. So another reason why I stopped using Facebook was that it always showed me the same stuff, which limited my thinking and, in a way, closed my mind to the world more than I was comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong; this problem isn’t specific to Facebook; almost all social media does the same thing, which is why I don’t use any social media these days.
7) My Conversations Were Always So Limited
These days a lot of our communication takes place on the internet, and more and more of it happens on social media sites like Facebook. Furthermore, while it is a pretty open platform as far as what you can post, specific topics get blocked, banned, or hidden. Simultaneously, you can comment on content, but the shorter text statements common on Facebook are always prone to misunderstanding and confusion.
You might have heard the famous saying from Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message.” When applied to social media and Facebook, it tells us that while we can exchange content, the place where that exchange takes place plays a tremendous role in what gets communicated.
It is difficult to express what I mean here, but I think the simple explanation is that real-life conversations are always more trustworthy and more free-flowing than what can be said through technology.
A big reason why I stopped using Facebook was that it got in the way of making real connections with people. The truth is that even if I can’t see someone every day or have a real in-person connection, it is still better than having our communication limited by a social networking platform.
8) There Was too Much Useless Information
One of the problems that started to develop as Facebook got more popular was the number of ads and the amount of useless information. And while ads are a part of the product, they start to become the content when there is too much of them. Especially with ads, the content was so repetitive and empty that there was no chance I would click on it, but I sure spend a lot of time and effort trying to avoid it.
In the earlier days of Facebook, especially when more distant connections started families, there was significantly more content about peoples’ personal lives and activities. I’m sure for family, it is nice to see relative’s pictures, but that content is irrelevant for virtual strangers.
There was even a time when people posted tons of photos of the food they were eating, and while the algorithms and personalized content reduced that trend over time, there was a point when it was unavoidable.
All the useless information was a big reason why I stopped using Facebook.
Not only was I wasting my time while using Facebook, but I was wasting it looking at useless crap that had no significance to my life or anything that was going on with it.
9) Algorithms Were Deciding What I Could Consume
I talked a little about this before, where I said that Facebook was telling me how to think, but what made it worse was that an algorithm decided the content that was showing up on my feed rather than a human, but even more importantly, rather than me.
While algorithms do an excellent job of picking music and videos for us, they also tend to slowly take away our willpower for control over those sorts of things. When an algorithm does an excellent job of picking music you like, you start to rely on it, but then you also forget how to find good music on your own. This is comparable to anything else that is automated, it helps, but it also takes away a skill that is difficult to develop and helpful in the long run.
While Facebook was good at suggesting content for me to consume, it also took over my free choice and made me less independent. A major reason why I stopped using Facebook was that I wouldn’t say I liked the idea of algorithms making choices for me.
10) I Was Essentially Working For Free
A somewhat popular saying is, “if you don’t pay, you are the product,” and this is something that most social media and particularly Facebook users don’t think about. Rather than being customers of Facebook, our attention is the commodity that Facebook sells to advertisers. This means that they let us use their service for free because they want to maximize the number of advertisements we look at.
People often tell me that this doesn’t matter because you are free to leave, and Facebook is creating value for you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be using it. And while this is true, every time we post something on Facebook or comment on a friend’s post, we bring more attention to Facebook, which means more eyes are looking at advertisements which then puts money in shareholders’ pockets.
While technically, you aren’t working for Facebook when you create content, you are creating value, and that value is benefiting Facebooks bottom line, but not yours.
Sure, you might get some likes, but if you want that value back from Facebook, you will have to pay Facebook for it. So while building a community and following might be useful for your brand, you aren’t building that following for yourself; instead, you are building it for Facebook, which will require you to pay if you want to interact with all of the community you’ve created.
I stopped using Facebook because I didn’t like the financial relationship I had with the company. I didn’t see the value in getting to look at other people’s rummage while at the same time lining the pockets of shareholders who didn’t care about me or the value I create.
11) I Was getting Concerned About The Future it Was Creating
Nowadays, many people probably look at social media like Facebook and Twitter and say it is causing problems in our society. Some might point to the increase in extremism and the seeming destruction of democracy and the rule of law as major problems. But a few years ago, most people would tell me I was crazy when I said that social media was creating those problems.
When I talk to one of my sisters, it is obvious that she has become polarized in her beliefs, and she is no longer open to reasonable conversation. When someone mentions something that she disagrees with, she gets up from the table and walks away rather than participating in a discussion.
While this might have been something that was more acceptable for a teenager, she is now an adult, and it makes little sense. Nevertheless, it is clear to see that this is happening due to all of her social media usage, as she never needs to see something she disagrees with online, so here assumptions are never challenged.
Back when I used to use Facebook, I would get in debates or arguments with friends, and I could see how mad we both got.
It wasn’t a leap to think that these simple disagreements were getting worse and more extreme as more people spent time online and locked in their social media bubbles. Before Facebook, there was a lot less for us to disagree on because while it existed, it wasn’t always in our faces, but now with social media, disagreement is always a click away.
In another article about how social media ruins relationships, I go into this topic with a little more detail. However, it is safe to say that observing this early on and seeing how it got worse was a massive motivation for why I stopped using Facebook.
The key here is that while social media connects us, it also brings out our most extreme selves as it pushes us into narrower niches of our assumed interests. In real life, we are forced to deal with a broad range of topics, but on the internet, at least partly due to marketing, this is almost always discouraged.
12) It Wasn’t Fun Anymore
While all of the above explanations are somewhat deep, the most surface reason why I stopped using Facebook was that it wasn’t fun anymore. In the past, when I could follow whoever I wanted and get the content that I was looking for, it was easier to get a more diverse experience. I know a lot of people get deep into things but then don’t sway, while I, on the other hand, dig deep and then move on to something new.
While I might not follow TV shows or sports like most people I know, I do dig deep into ideas and learn as much as I can before checking something else out. For me, following a show for years is incredibly dull and something I’ve not done for as long as I can remember. If I go online and see the same stuff every day, that is boring and makes me want to leave. However, I also realize that most people aren’t like this as they like repetition and consistency.
When I used to use Facebook, I could get engaged with the topics that show up on my feed, but as my interest wained, and I had to go somewhere else for what I was looking for there was no reason to go back.
For most things in life, after some time, the novelty goes away, and for me, once the freshness of Facebook disappeared, there wasn’t much reason for me to go there anymore. Simply put, I stopped using Facebook because it was boring.
13) I Kept Coming Back, So I Needed to Change
While there were many reasons for me to stop using Facebook, that didn’t mean that it was easy to control; in fact, I quit using Facebook three times before it became permanent. It wasn’t so much that I had to go back, but there was always some reason I made up to go back.
The first time I stopped using Facebook was very early on when it was still a new thing, and lots of people were flocking to it. At that time, everyone said I was crazy and thought all my reasons for leaving didn’t make any sense, though now most of my friends agree; it’s funny how things change.
After some time, when I went back to Facebook, I set up an account to market some stuff I was writing, but that didn’t work, so I erased my account again.
The third time I got onto Facebook was more recently, a couple of years ago and during that time was when I discovered most of the items on this list. For me, the biggest problem was that I had the app on my phone, and I was spending way too much time looking at it, even though almost everything that I was looking at made no difference. However, once I started working from home and mostly used my work laptop, I made a point of not logging in to Facebook with that computer.
Not having the Facebook app installed on my phone or computer made it easy to avoid.
Another reason I stopped using Facebook was that even though I tried to stop using it, I always found an excuse to come back. As a result, it took some severe changes to my lifestyle to kick the habit. And while I still technically have an account, I don’t ever use it, so it is fair to say that I’ve stopped using Facebook.
Often when I talk about the problems with social media, people say that it isn’t reasonable to give it up. Others might suggest that some other social network isn’t so bad, and while that might be true, it doesn’t make any of these arguments any less valid. If we accept that real-life encounters are the best, then no change in technology is going to change that.
While I agree that it is difficult to stop using Facebook, I don’t think that should be an excuse for not doing it. In all honesty, when I stopped using social media, I got a lot happier with my life, and while other parts of my life also changed around the same time, kicking the social media habit made a considerable difference.
If you feel like life doesn’t make sense or that meaning has been disappearing, then I’d suggest taking a break from social media and seeing if that helps. As it certainly made a difference for me, so I’m sure you will experience similar benefits.