If you want to be happier, keep your personal information private and find more free time, Quit Facebook
I dropped off of Facebook on Nov. 1, in part because of security concerns, a little because I spent entirely too much time with it but largely because it was making me miserable.
Imagine waking up each day and checking out the internet with the morning coffee and reading on Facebook that some other user — theoretically, a friend — thinks I’m fat (I am); I’m ugly (personal opinion); I’m stupid (I’m no Einstein but I got my own college degree without millionaire parents); I know nothing about fighting (I know more than some, less than others); and I am unethical and on the take (Nope).
It wasn’t a lot of fun after a while.
There were way more nice people than nasty ones, but it was all but impossible to ignore the taunts and general nastiness directed my way, and when I was forced to deal with the flood the security flaws that having a Facebook account injected into my life, I decided enough is enough.
I pretty much hadn’t thought of it at all, until I saw New York Times reporter Brian X. Chen’s series of stories on Facebook on Thursday. I read with interest his piece on the impact of getting rid of Facebook five months ago.
It’s well worth your time. The part about how Instagram suddenly began to think he is a woman is classic.
But that led me to thinking about my experience of having left Facebook.
On one level, I regret it terribly. I love to talk and interact with people, and Facebook was the perfect vehicle to do that. I connected with old classmates from as far back as kindergarten, and it was a joy to meet with them. Seeing updates from family members was so refreshing.
I had two accounts. I had a regular Facebook page that I began in 2002 or 2003 when I had a part-time job at the Apple Store. I started it to connect with some of my co-workers there, who are far younger than I and urged me to join. When I moved to Yahoo, people began to find it and I quickly got to the limit of 5,000 friends. I probably knew about 10 to 20 percent of those in person.
Then, I started a Facebook journalist page and I had more than 6,000 followers on that page. So that meant that I had a connection with probably 9,000 to 10,000 people I didn’t know in real life.
The lure of social media is making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. And I certainly did both of those, and I miss some of the people who, while I ‘d never met them personally, had become a part of my life online.
The beginning of the end for me on Facebook came last summer, when I wrote an MMA column that someone disagreed with. He made comments below my story that were aggressive, but ultimately were fine. But he wouldn’t give up and finally messaged me privately.
He accused me of being on the take. He called me more vile names than I even knew existed. He was mocking my appearance repeatedly. I blocked him, and that led me to look at the list of one-time “friends” I’d block. And it was a huge, long list.
I don’t block people for saying they disagreed with my pick on the fight. Nor did I block them if they disagreed with my politics.
I saw the many people I’d blocked and I realized that Facebook was a cesspool. I didn’t need to allow myself to be berated every day. I didn’t feel like having to manage the account so vigorously so that I could weed out the bad and retain the good.
It was a great tool, both personally and professionally, but it quickly outgrew its usefulness.
I’ve barely thought about Facebook since leaving, and only have really talked about it when someone has asked me, or a former Facebook friend reaches out to me on some other form of social media.
I’m a bit more cautious now. I interact a lot less with people I don’t know on Twitter and Instagram than I once did.
But since Facebook has left my life, my self-esteem has risen and I don’t start the day angry because of what some “friend” said about me.
Not only do I not get abused any more, I also don’t have to worry about the incredible mistakes Facebook makes that leaves your personal information at risk.
Good riddance, Facebook. I’ll be honest: I’m clearly glad you’re gone.