I quit Facebook two weeks ago, and I can’t say my life is any better or worse without it. And that’s the company’s problem in a nutshell.
My decision was prompted by the latest revelations about its abuses of privacy and manipulation, but those issues triggered my deeper, underlying questions about its value in the first place.
Sure, it was a hoot early on, when I rediscovered folks I’d known in grade school, or classmates I couldn’t even remember found me. We immediately became “friends” and subsequently never spoke again, though I was greeted every day with updates on their vacations and politics.
I don’t miss them, and I don’t think they miss me.
All of my actual friends are still my friends, and we still converse (and even share silly updates on our lives). Same goes for extended family members.
As for the news, well, Facebook’s feed always seemed like TMZ content vetted by the judges on The Voice. Its curation — remember, it’s not a media site, wink wink — was continually a work in progress, and it only encouraged me to read, watch, and listen to news produced by actual journalists…sans the scissors and tape of Facebook’s bots.
I still consume news content, only directly from the media sites that create it.
I don’t miss the ads at all; they were actually kinda spooky, especially every time one popped up hawking something I’d just looked at on a website prior to visiting Facebook. Ditto for the content and events coming from company-sponsored pages, which seemed like mostly rehashed stuff from press releases, or ginned-up with the express purpose of wasting my time.
I’m still an expert at wasting my time without such help.
Facebook’s only function is to make itself indispensable, and to encourage people to do things whilst there so it can track and then help its advertisers exploit those behaviors. In fact, this is the crux of its competitive challenge, as it’s in a race to absorb hours of visitors’ lives and, by doing so, control their hearts and minds.
My life is the same now as it was when I was a daily user, and I continue to accomplish everything I want to do in my life via a variety of other tools (both digital and analog). Out of the everything it throws at users in hopes of accomplishing its goal, I don’t need any of it.
It’s in trouble if the rest of us figure that out, too.