Deleting your account is no longer subversive. As recently as a year or two ago, my friends would generally respond with incredulous horror when I floated the idea by them. But now, the same people shrug and mumble something in the sympathetic affirmative. Deleting your account has gone from the fringe to the mainstream. Case in point: I’m not even going to go through my reasons for leaving because I’m willing to bet you already know them.
I remember signing up in 2006 the moment I got my Columbia College Chicago email address. During what felt like the main attraction of my orientation tour, four extremely beautiful seniors told us how great it was. I remember them sitting on the edge of the stage, oozing with cool and years of collegian social experience. Indeed, they confirmed, the rumors were true: Facebook, Inc. was where all the action happened.
Facebook, Inc. has been really good to me. My first message to my wife was there. Friends, family, communities, etc. Everyone has the same story, the same complex relationship with Facebook, Inc. And that is why it is time to leave.
Digitally haunted by increasingly precise ads.
Last December I unfriended two thirds of my friends and laboriously decoupled all the “sign in with Facebook” services (I suspect this will cause much heartache for many). The theory was that I’d pay more attention to close friends and family. It didn’t work. As it turned out, by that point in time my usage habits had dropped to essentially zero. Facebook, Inc. was a husk to me. A walled garden for messaging. I’d login to check or send some messages and leave. But in this relationship there was an asymmetry, you see. For I was still very useful to Facebook, Inc. Another node in the graph. Another brick in the wall. Digitally haunted by increasingly precise ads.
A few articles that came out this week (particularly The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire and this NY Times piece) sealed the deal. I talked to some close friends who had made the leap. They provided the last nudge of emotional support.
The Facebook, Inc. operation was rolled into my annual digital hygiene rituals. I did it the hard way. The work began almost 4 years ago when Nick Briz published a video and some scripts on the topic. At that time I followed his lead. I untagged myself from everything and deleted all my likes, posts, photos, everything. I almost believed it was digital equivalent of scalding off my finger prints, but part of me deep down knew they were probably just soft deletes.
I ran some of those dubious “delete your Facebook content” Chrome plugins. Unfriended everyone. Deleted and transferred page ownership. Clicked the deactivate button. Around then it dawned on me I would have to delete my Instagram accounts, too. This brought a twinge of sorrow as one of the accounts was relatively “successful” if you count comments, engagement, and likes as success. But the pain of staying outweighed the pain of leaving. I deleted all posts and unfollowed everyone before visiting the sequestered Delete Your Account page.
Just the feeling of completing a well procrastinated chore.
When it was done I felt nothing. No rush or exhilaration. Just the feeling of completing a well procrastinated chore. But deleting all cookies sure felt great.
Earlier this year I wrote about the future of social networks and why all hope is not lost.