I've fought with Facebook for a long time. But I've quit for good now. Here are some reasons why I'm happy I don't have one:
I don't have to worry about embarrassing photos later becoming public. I also don't have to worry about accidentally setting the wrong privacy settings or sharing things with the world that I probably shouldn't.
I don't have to worry about Facebook selling my browser history. A short detour for the non-technical audience:
- When you type in your username and password on a site, the site stores a small file on your computer, known as a cookie. 99% of sites on the Internet do this.
- Then each time you load a new page on a site, your computer sends the cookie to the website as proof that you are you. This way you don't have to enter in your username and password every time you load a new page.
Now here's what happens when you are logged in to Facebook, and you visit a page with a Like button:
Your computer requests the "Like" button content from Facebook. This means that your computer is sending your Facebook cookie to the Facebook servers.
Facebook reads your data from the cookie, and makes an entry in its database with your name, the time and the page you visited. It pulls up a list of your friends that have "Liked" the same page.
Over time, they can use this information to establish a comprehensive history of your browsing habits.
Before, I used to only open Facebook in a single-site browser called Fluid, so it wouldn't be able to tie my browsing history to my account (I do the same for Google as well). As it turns out this isn't good enough; they log your IP address when you request a Like button and use it to build a profile of your activity. It's for this reason that facebook.com and www.facebook.com are blocked in my /etc/hosts file.
I have ten extra minutes every day.
I won't ever remark out loud about someone's funny status or comment. When you don't have an online social network, these comments sound inane.
I can avoid zeroes more effectively. I noticed that my Facebook social graph bore little resemblance to my real life social graph; even though I was Facebook friends with my real life friends, we barely interacted on the site. Instead I got a steady stream of updates from people I cared little about. Furthermore, most of the people who added me as a friend were people that I didn't want to hang out with.
I tried to mitigate this by imposing a strict 150-friend limit. But people would get pissed off that I wouldn't accept their friend request. Because I wasn't interacting with my friends very much on Facebook to begin with, my social life hasn't suffered in its absence.
I don't get jealous any more. The number one reason guys have a Facebook is to look at pictures of girls. But every time I looked at pictures of girls I met I would get reminded of how much time I wasn't spending with them. I'd assume the worst in every scenario and talk myself out of pursuing people that were interested in me. In this case being oblivious is actually a benefit.
The photos people post on Facebook are unrealistic versions of their real lives. As an example, here are my last four Facebook photo albums:
- Me in South Africa
- Me in India
- Me in Scotland
- Me in China
Generally you don't see albums titled "The night I was too anxious about social interaction to get off my couch" or "The night Ted got so blasted he peed in someone's laundry, then cheated on his girlfriend". This means that unless you're really careful you are going to wonder why your life is so messed up when everyone else is doing great.
When you want to share a message with someone you could send them a private message. When you post on their Wall, it's no longer a message for that person - it's a signal to everyone else. To me, this is insincere and I always felt posts to my Wall were a little fake. By canceling my account I'm telling people about the signals I'd rather send and receive - private messages from the sender to the recipient.