It’s official. I’m off the Facebook grid. Nobody offended me. I didn’t have a bad experience. While I’m not thrilled about the idea of Big Brother watching my every move, I’m not particularly paranoid about social media sharing. Therefore, I’m sharing why I’m dumping Facebook and committing to Twitter and Instagram.1) Facebook sucks time from my life, and unlike money, time is a zero sum game (thanks to Laura Vanderkam for reminding us). Without question, some of the time I spend on Facebook is edifying and life-giving. For example, my good friend, Nick Selvi—a husband, father, teacher and musician—is stricken with stage four rectal cancer, and his Facebook page keeps me informed of the battle he and his family are waging. I’ll miss that, but hopefully I’ll be a real friend and call and visit to support him.
2) Most of my Facebook friends aren’t (actually friends). They’re not enemies. It’s not that I wish them ill, but for the majority of them, there’s a reason we don’t associate other than on Facebook. For most, it’s not because of a geographic disparity or because they don’t have an email address or phone number—it’s because we’re simply not actual…friends. (This makes me wonder if the reason I initially got on Facebook was actually a matter of pride. “How many virtual friends can I assemble?” I appreciated the reminder from Leo Babauta this week that comparing ourselves to others is an exercise in futility.)
3) There are other (better) options for photo sharing. Seeing my friends’ and family’s pictures, and sharing my own, is what I like most about Facebook. A picture and a caption can generate a belly laugh or bring tears to my eyes. I also know that it is the real-time exchange of family pics that likely inspired 90% of the grandparents who are on Facebook today—so I’m not going to leave them hanging. Now instead of merely using Instagram to obscure my lack of photographic skill and then upload pictures on Facebook, I’ll simply use Instagram as my photo exchange medium, inviting only family and close friends to follow me there.
4) Facebook brings out the worst in people. How I didn’t quit Facebook during the last presidential campaign, I’ll never know. The willingness of so many to spew half-baked punditry that almost assuredly alienates them from half of their friends—and convinces precisely no one of their opinion—boggles the mind! Yes, these offenders are buoyed by the 10 Likes they get from the people who think similarly, but scores more harden their opinion in opposition and are likely offended in the process. (If this point doesn’t resonate with you, you may be an offender.)
5) I learn more on Twitter. Twitter is to Facebook as a biography is to a novel. I know there’s nothing wrong with reading fiction, but I confess that I (wrongly) feel a little guilty when I spend time reading something that didn’t (or won’t) actually happen. I enjoy being on Twitter, much as I enjoy reading a good biography, but I’m allowed to feel like I’m better for having done so—that I’ve learned something beneficial. Twitter is now my number one source for hard news and opinions I value, as well as a relational connecting point. Twitter is more of a resource and less of a popularity contest. And let’s face it, for all too many, Facebook is really closer to the intellectual or emotional equivalent of eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. (It’s not good for you.)
6) The presence of ads on Facebook is getting ridiculous. I care more about you than the fact that you like Cherry Coke. I certainly care more about you than whatever Facebook wants me to buy, and it seems like there are increasingly more ads every day. Am I the only one who notices that?
7) Less is more. I’m on a mission to simplify life, to slow it down to a pace at which it can actually be consumed, not just tasted. I don’t want to hide behind the ubiquitous, “I’m really busy” as a badge of honor. I want a lower cost of living (not just financially) and a higher quality of life. I want to limit the number of [things] that compete for my attention so that I can apply more attention to those [things] I care the most about.