The Change I Needed: My Social Media Usage in 2018.
It's been almost two months since I completely deleted my Facebook account. I don't regret it, for the most part. A great many issues I had with Facebook stemmed from how I used Facebook. I had a toxic feed of negative news and clickbait articles, and ads for unrelated items. Still, I spent an inordinate amount of time just scrolling and clicking through silly articles and viral videos. The content I saw, for the most part, was content liked or commented on by others with whom I was "friends". Some of whom I'd not spoken to in years, some I'd barely ever spoken to at all. Many from folks with whom I shared nothing in common with, and some of whom in all honesty I didn't care for, or ever plan to keep in touch, because, well, I never had. That's not from a place of badness - to say I don't care for some people - I feel that I have a finite capacity to be a good and caring friend, and as such, I can only be that way for a finite amount of people. I'd rather be a good friend to few than a passive friend to many. I was Facebook friends with 400+ people. Much of the content I saw came from a lot of very loosely defined "friends", or "acquaintances", I guess.
What have I missed?
As someone that still uses Twitter (albeit following an account deletion and a restart with a fresh new account for a similarly toxic feed story), I've been unable to escape the negative comments and articles, or the incessant barrage of messages drilled home by many. As a result, I've dialled down the amount of time I'm allowing myself on Twitter, and am much more selective with who I choose to follow (look for a blog post in the coming weeks for some top picks!). I also still use Instagram, though less so than previously, and I've posted much more sparingly (only six times in almost two months). I love Instagram Stories, and I follow a bunch of really creative people who share incredible content in their feeds and their Stories on a daily basis. As someone inspired by and genuinely interested in creativity, Instagram is more of a positive than a negative when it comes to categorising social networks. I use Snapchat even more infrequently, save for the odd few messages to friends or silly filtered pics. WhatsApp is the one app I find myself unable to detach from as much as the rest. I suppose given the fact it's my primary tool with which to contact most everyone in my life; it's a bit harder to detach from with such aplomb. Before you say it - yes, I know Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram. I didn't delete my Facebook account because of their dubious privacy policies and habits; rather, I felt the way I used the service was toxic, and what the service was showing me was even more toxic. Using Facebook the way I did, led to poorer mental health. Opening the app first thing facing a barrage of negative or shocking news, and random posts about perfect locations around the world, and other content which had no relevance to my life, somehow managed to put a downer on my day. A sort of slow burn which placed a strange kind of negativity on my mind.
There are few smaller things I miss about not having Facebook. I'd become used to receiving my near-daily memories from Facebook, which more often than not brought a little smile and a happier spark to the start of my day. I never appreciated memories of random things I'd shared on Facebook, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the moments shared with close friends that sometimes populated the memories tab. Ultimately the memories on Facebook in which I shared good times with close friends are the one element of the service I genuinely miss. How a memory from one friend led to the tagging of multiple friends, who each then chimed in below in the comments with their memory of the day in question. To my mind, this will always be Facebook's strong point. If you use Facebook solely for your closest friends, then perhaps it has a place amongst your social media apps; or rather, a place in mine. I don't know of any other service that has such broad adoption yet can still feel so personal. But, is it enough to make me go back?
Currently, I don't think it is enough to make me rejoin the service. I still manage some business pages on the service using a placeholder account which has not liked any posts, pages, or other content. The account is also entirely without friends. Here's a screenshot of what an empty feed looks like in 2018.
I know that as soon as I start interacting with pages and adding friends, I'll face an ambush from a list of 'suggested pages' and random videos, photos etc., which I have no desire to see. If Facebook only showed me updates from my friends and photos we shared together, it'd be perfect. As things stand, it feels like a hugely bloated service, and I have no desire to fall back into it.
As for how people reacted to my choice to leave Facebook? Some people didn't notice (the one I expected most). Some noticed I'd gone and asked why. Some called me stupid. And some - this one was the most surprising - got aggressive towards me, accusing me of deleting them and blocking them from my account. At no point did they consider I might have deleted my account. They immediately made it about themselves and about how I "blocked" them. They were genuinely offended. Of all that's happened since I deleted the account, this is perhaps the most bizarre aspect, and not something inspiring me to reconnect with a larger amount of "friends" on Facebook or any other service. Like I said earlier - I have a finite amount of energy and my choice is to better look after myself and give my energy to close friends and family.
As for advertising and running a business page through Facebook - I'm intent on spending as little money on advertising on Facebook as possible. I'm focusing on creating better content that will grow organically. Maybe that's a very naive hope to think it will do so, but I guess there's only one way to find out, eh? I'll also be working harder to get better presence on Google, because who doesn't love a good ole Google search?
How do you think about your usage of Facebook? Do you view it as a positive thing or a negative thing? Do you passively consume Facebook without really thinking about your interactions with the service and indeed technology in general?
You may or may not be wondering what's next for me - given the recent hiatus and lack of content. Further changes are coming. I'm so close to making a significant investment into my photography, video and creative goals, and I'll be sharing much more here as things come together. It's rather exciting.