Why I quit Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok for good
Yesterday, I deleted my Facebook account. 1
Ditto for Instagram. And, Snapchat. And, TikTok.
It is time to unfriend “the algorithm” before it’s too late. The writing is on the wall. 2 (no pun intended)
- It’s time to unfriend Facebook and “the algorithm”
- Why I quit Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok for good
- It is time to reclaim our Attention!
- It’s easier to quit the mafia than Facebook!
- Matters of Mental Health
- Dylan: ’Til our error we clearly learn
- Why I quit Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok for good
It is time to reclaim our Attention!
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” — Steve Jobs
Breaking up with the algorithm across Facebook, Instagram, & TikTok leads to a re-evaluation of our lives. Why this matters now, more than ever before…
Apple’s a company that doesn’t have most resources of everybody in the world.3
The way we’ve succeeded is by choosing which horses to ride.
We try to look for these technical vectors that have a future, and that are headed up, and, you know, different pieces of technology kind kinda go in cycles.
They have their springs and summers, and autumns, and then they, you know, go to the graveyard of technology.
And, so we try to pick the things that are in their springs. — Steve Jobs on Products
The beauty of great storytelling is that it’s applicable across the board. This analogy is true for Apple, true for Facebook, and true for me. Facebook, in my opinion, is in its autumn (I’m sure they might think otherwise), but more importantly, I’m in my summer.
“And if you choose wisely you can save yourself an enormous amount of work. And you can put your energy to make those technologies great on your platform.”
What I do with my time in my summer (let’s hope) “if I choose wisely,” I could save myself an enormous amount of work or trouble in the long-run.
And I choose to put my energy in people, platforms and work where I see the greatest upside for my growth, and their success. To Dylan and Jobs, a huge debt of thanks, for articulating this decision, in words that I couldn’t have stated with any more clarity.
It’s easier to quit the mafia than Facebook!
Now, the beauty of any mafia, as the saying goes “once you’re in the racket, you’re in it for life.4” But that’s true for any institution; whether it’s your family or Facebook or the Catholic Church. 5
“Once you’re in the racket, you’re in it for life.” — Al Capone
But, institutions, are in most cases not built with the individual’s interest at heart, given the numerous conflicting desires and goals. And, someday, sometime, one has to do the right thing and move away, when it’s affecting your mental health. And, as you very well know, the institutions will not make it easy on you leaving.
To leave Facebook is akin to leaving the mafia you find yourself in, if you go by the many hoops they try to make you jump through to delete your profile. It’s such a cynical ploy, and an understatement on how they perceive you and your attention.
Unflappable in their relentless attempts to derail your finite attention. They make it near impossible to take what is yours and leave. But enough is enough.
I am compelled to write down my version of what I went through to simply delete my Facebook profile, since (shockingly, despite being extremely social-media savvy) it took me a few Google searches, rifling through Facebook’s own documentation, and sighing bemusedly at how folks who work there get a good night’s sleep.
Three Clicks to Delete your Facebook Profile:
Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version on how to delete your Facebook profile. I wish I had this when I was attempting to do just that. Amazing, how much leeway we give bad faith operators in power, in this world. But, I digress.
Step 1: Find your “Settings & Privacy” (Top Right Hand Corner), then “Privacy Shortcuts”
Strange, yet obscure way to hide your delete Facebook button. But, I’ll go with this flow. The word “shortcuts” also throws you off, and having “Privacy Checkup” right above, also makes you wonder which road to take.
Masterfully deceptive, egregiously stupid, and (I bet) extremely effective, at dissuading you and making you want to give up, before you even begin. But, fear not, I got you and will lead you to the promised land.
Hit “Settings & Privacy,” then “Privacy Shortcuts.”
Step 2: Blink Three Times, if your Facebook profile is being held hostage?!
Once you figure out “Privacy Shortcuts” is the magic door that will lead to your escape, you are confounded by this page. Now, this is the entire page on my desktop iMac and a cursory glance (will NOT show you the delete button). Go on… I’ll wait.
Also, the category to place it under “Tools to help you control your privacy and security on Facebook” is also so intentionally misleading to make you wanna throw up. Regardless, scrolling down just a second, scrolled all the way to the bottom, under a sub-heading that says “Your Facebook Information” — “View or download your Facebook information at any time.” Wow. The mind boggles at such a brazenly disingenuous ploy to throw you off.
But, if you persist, and don’t blink, you’ll see the “Delete your account and information” before it disappears.
Step 3: Download Information, “Delete Account”
If you’ve come this far, you’re that much closer to deleting your Facebook account. Now all that stands between you and peace-of-mind, is to Download your information before hitting Delete. As you can see I had 1500 photos and 2500 posts, which I chose to download (just in case), but on perusing them I realize I had stopped uploading my pics to Facebook a while back, roughly 10 years, and these photos were good to have, but I could have lived without em.
I suspect your experience may vary. Regardless, hit that Download button, before you consider permanently deleting your Facebook account.
And, just like that you’re just a click away from deleting 17 years of time spent (some fruitful), and a lot of wasteful minutes across the Mark Zuckerberg Universe (MZU).
Hit Delete, and, just like that — “Serenity Now.” I haven’t thought about it for a second since, and I doubt I ever will.
Matters of Mental Health
I’ve written about my odyssey through mental health, across grief and time, over a year ago 6. A couple of things 7 have changed since then.
A global pandemic, civil strife, rogue actors, bad faith, and Orwellian technology that knows no bounds, has no keepers and brooks no maker of it. But, people chose to react to chaos in different ways. My initial reaction, and I think for a lot of us, in the early disorienting months (Feb – May 2020) were zoom happy hours, and that goes for virtual habits, including ones inhabited by the social algorithm.
But, this abundance, this fantasy, these distractions fed by any of those sources only causes the chaos to spread. In the middle of chaos, only stillness matters.
- Stillness matters. It surfaces meaning.
- Abundance messes with our minds. The world doesn’t live with abundance, and scarcity is a feature, not a bug. Pain & Grief, might be the highest versions of this, and possess deep meaning to life & death. But, the only way we can confront that is in stillness.
- What the algorithm seems to promise, is a fantasy, and it’s time we saw it for what it is.
- Dependence isn’t good.
- I realize how much I depend on Facebook Connect to log into sites, and increasingly on voice-activated Alexa and Portal, understanding both Facebook and Amazon now hear every word I speak. And, just like in any abusive relationship, being dependent, or co-dependent is not something one should take for granted. It’s better late than never.
- A bad friend, is deleterious to health
- Alcohol, cigarettes, Facebook. Or the Algorithm.
- The algorithm is worse than alcohol. It’s worse than cigarettes. And, please don’t say we were not warned. It’s time to quit relationships that don’t serve us well.
Just the process of extricating myself from the Facebook rabbit-hole was reminder enough that this was an abusive relationship that has gone on for too long.
But, as I’d mentioned in an earlier post, unfriending Facebook has its immense benefits to mental health. More than alcohol, more than cigarettes, more than eating habits (salt & sugar), more than our physical well-being, the “algorithm” slowly, but surely wraps itself around how we process the world itself. We find ourselves staring into Medusa’s eyes, turning into stone, and the sooner we curb this enthusiasm for distraction, and fashion it after our purpose; the better.
Dylan: ’Til our error we clearly learn
As an early part of LinkedIn, a huge Twitter evangelist (from back in the day to now), social media continues to be a critical part of my daily life and work. But, there’s a difference between that naive take on social networking, with which I was schooled, to today’s attention land-grab, that has me (and many folks I know), rethink the purpose of social media itself.
Someday in the (near) future, we’ll look at this experiment in the human condition, giving kids iPhones like doing out cigarettes, and turning a blind eye to the various genocides that large behemoths have turned a blind eye to, as atrocious.
But, for starters, I wanna reclaim my attention.
For what am I, without my thoughts.
As with all things in life, I’ll let Bob Dylan bring it home 8, spittin’ words of wisdom on technology, our abuse of it, and what it all means.
Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled Oh, man is opposed to fair play He wants it all and he wants it his way Now he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill And all he believes are his eyes And his eyes, they just tell him lies Leave no stone unturned May be an actor in a plot That might be all that you got 'Til your error you clearly learn
I, for one, am in no mood to make the choice to repeat my mistakes, spending time blithely whether it’s on vices we entrust with a lot of good faith — whether it’s Instagram or alcohol. So, goodbye and good luck to Mark, his minions, and my next glass of scotch.
Good Night, and Good Luck!
- 17 years in, though a phantom-limb phenomenon at this time, it’s a fully-grown teenager if I had a child at that point in my life, and it’s strange that it has accompanies a lot of my wins and successes in these years past. Still, when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Fin. ↩︎
- Who doesn’t remember Facebook’s original “wall” posts, before “the feed” took over. Here’s a great piece by Taylor Lorenz, currently at The New York Times, on the day the wall died. “Sahil Kapur, a journalist in Washington, D.C., echoed Zoe’s sentiment: “Posting on someone’s Wall is more about public consumption than a real conversation. The wall did have a certain appeal when Facebook was a tighter-knit community of college students, but that changed.” ↩︎
- Coming from a company at its peak at the D8 Conference in 2010, when they had just surpassed Microsoft as the most valuable company in the world, might seem specious. But, Steve is right about one thing, no company has unlimited resources. No human, has unlimited attention. And, focus, is imperative for any and every goal one has in life. ↩︎
- Yep, that was Al Capone who said it. ↩︎
- As a recovering Catholic, I understand the role dogma plays in the vice-like grip that religions have on your “soul,” and hence your actions, your inability to make choices as you might freely. ↩︎
- Losing a parent, for the first time, will be the hardest thing you ever deal with in your life. The ground beneath your feet, and mind, shifts irrevocably. Now, toss in a breakup, work turbulence and you have a perfect storm. I did, and this was before the pandemic. Meditation, running and staying fit — mentally and physically — saved my ass and my life, arguably ↩︎
- Finding passion in career and a partner unlike any, is a start, and boy, did 2021 make up for 2020’s absolute decimation ↩︎
- Dylan’s “License to Kill” is a diatribe against technology’s wayward eye when we have major problems right here on planet earth. How resonant today, when there’s a debate about billionaire’s pet projects to Mars and the Moon, when we are faced with climate change, a pandemic and political unrest. ↩︎
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