Why I quit Facebook

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.

That said, there is one feature of Facebook I miss - apparently people like using it to organize events. But that's not enough of a reason to keep my account.

11 thoughts on “Why I quit Facebook

  1. Mike

    I’ve always wondered… what is the big scare about having your browsing habits data-mined? I’ve shopped online for my wife before, and noticed that Facebook started showing some female clothing ads on my homepage. Why should I worry?

    Facebook security is actually pretty easy these days. You can now setup photo tagging approval. No more tagging of those embarrassing photos (obviously the photos can still be viewed by friends of the person who uploaded them).

    By the way, if you’re not on Facebook monitoring these photos, people will be uploading them and looking at them anyway, whether or not you choose to use Facebook.

    Reply
  2. Dre

    Very nice post.

    I’ve been thinking about deleting my facebook recently. but i find it too useful for talking to groups of people.

    through facebook i found and chat to some of my friends from primary school, plus some of their friends and so on.
    most of which i have loose ties with. some are even multiple friends-of-mine and its just fate that we werent blood-brothers.

    of course, they could drop off the face of the earth and ill be over it within a month. but its still nice to have new people there.

    i find my life at the moment to be too solitude. im doing home-studies in a pretty small and remote town, and there arent many people for me to talk to, or new people to discover, so i just talk to some people on facebook for my social interaction.

    but the whole facebook tracking is annoying as hell and freaks me out

    Reply
  3. Eric Lachance

    I’ve seen a couple of similar rants before, but yours is one of the most interesting. Myself, I’ve always had trouble socializing in ‘realtime’. I know it’s a cliché, but just like in the ols school RPGs like Final Fantasy, I prefer turn-based conversations… Facebook (or it could be G+ if my family was on there) lets me be more social without being socially awkward.

    But the way you say it, for some reason, brings the realisation that maybe it’s all an illusion I’m building for myself and I should just let myself be antisocial with all but friends and family in real life… And if someone wants me at an event, let them call me then! I will definitely reflect on this, and perhaps I will delete my Facebook after all (or rather, “hide” it, as they don’t actually delete that data, do they?)

    Reply
  4. Carlos Ruiz

    I agree with your views on Facebook. I mainly don’t like it because I know that for the most part it’s not genuine. I also hardly post anything because I find it silly to think people will care about all the mundane things that happen to me.

    Reply
    1. Ravindranath Akila

      I really hate the propoganda status messages. Full of crap. Also, the photos depicting you live in heaven. Crap!

      Especially since I put how I generally feel and now I look a total idiot vs fake statuses.

      I take an annual “Delete Old Messages” trip to make sure I have some control.

      Reply
  5. Ravindranath Akila

    I agree. What I’ve done is

    Make only people tagged in a photo see it. (I’ve got some if my students on my FB account. They’d freak out if they saw some).

    Make guest wall posts viewable by “Me Only”.

    Make my friend list invisible, but that went to hell when I accepted the timeline.

    Some of these help a bit.

    Going furthe, being a bit selfish, I’d like it if you can criticize Down Town, either way. Any feedback will just make us better. http://www.ilikeplaces.com . Thanks Kevin!

    Reply
  6. Stephanie

    Deleting my Facebook has been a goal of mine for quite a while now, and I finally did it. I personally asked those on Facebook that I wanted to keep in contact for thier email address and any other information, and it’s felt great! Love your post! And I completely agree- the pros outweigh the cons for me as well. If anybody wants to invite me to an event, they can give me a buzz or shoot me an email

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Facebook Timeline: Sharing is Caring « Forum | The Official Student Publication of Claremont McKenna College

  8. nkumar

    I personally do not admire any social networking sites since it kills time and as you say it is only illusion about statuses. I visit fb very rare about once in 40 days and even do not remember to login daily. My friends tease me but still I do not feel logging in to fb or g+ so often. One thing I like about g+ is that you can follow someone whom you want (in my case linux developers). Still I do not see any reason to login to fb or g+ everyday. I post something what I feel useful in fb which many do not watch even :-). One thing I observe in fb is if you are female, you are likely to get more than 100 likes to whatever you post. I tend to laugh at such people. If the same is posted my male, people tend to ignore them :-).

    Anyway nice post!

    Reply
  9. Kami Asana

    I’m the exactly opposite of Eric LaChance, I don’t like socializing with people who are not standing in front of me. I like to look in their eyes and at their mannerisms and their smiles or smirks when we talk. It just helps me understand that they understand, and vice versa, which is essential to effective communication, at least for me.

    On the phone, but especially on email, on Facebook, and on twitter, it’s so easy to misintepret what someone says. People read every other line of an email or a post or a tweet and fill in the blanks, which may result in a misunderstanding that may be resolved in a passive/aggressive Internet age way – unfriending or blocking someone.

    If you have something truly interesting to say, meet me at Starbucks. I’ll throw in a hug for free. I know that limits me to only being friends with people in my immediately vicinity, but who can claim they truly have 300 friends anyway? Who do you call when your car breaks down or you need a ride to a minor medical procedure – your Facebook friend in Denmark or your buddy from down the street?

    I will keep up with college roommates and far-away family on the phone or via short emails, and all the extremely casual friends (from people who supposedly were in my kindergarten class, although I was apparently too stoned back then to remember) can send me periodic emails as necessary when something truly important happens.

    I’ll have more time to cultivate meaningful relationships with real people, who I see at their best and worst, and not just on touched-up Facebook pictures that make them look as social and fun as a Kardashian, and my former Facebook friends be free to offer my recently vacated Facebook friend slot to someone else just like them.

    Reply

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