Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account. Yes, I didn't delete it yet, but I deleted my photo albums. I decided to be away from Twitter and Facebook this month inspired by Cal Newport's book Digital Minimalism.
The thing is: there is so much information available on the internet and I don't want to let an algorithm show me what to see. That's why I always love [moderated] discussion forums. It's theme focused and generally people there are looking for information and trying to help each other. Social media has some of it too, but 99% of it is just showing off.
I remember it was not used to be that way. It really was a more personal approach where we could connect and share ideas with close friends. Now it's an ad driven world where quantity matters more than quality. I used to love social media. I joined the first “connect to friends” websites back when “social media” was not even a noun. I used to have an account at SixDegrees.com. It was launched 22 years ago. It was shut down in 2001. Then I used MySpace (not my favorite), Orkut (2007, I remember there were hundreds of useless groups and hate speech started to build there) and then, Facebook (2009).
At the beginning I used Facebook to connect to a group of international colleagues from a course I've taken abroad. Facebook was not about news or companies profiles. There were only people. There were ads, yes, but they were less obnoxious. At some point all these companies started to show up on Facebook and ads started to overflow our timelines. And then viral videos. And then the non-chronological timeline. That annoyed me a lot. A timeline where you had no control of. Then I started to realize something was wrong with Facebook and with what my contacts were publishing there. It was all fake. It was all just for show. And I include myself in this madness.
It's time to stop the madness.
I've long deleted my timeline on Facebook, meaning: I don't see anything on my timeline. I was occasionally logging to Facebook to check out some groups. And that's all I did there.
I deleted my photo albums. And I'm still trying to delete my comments and likes but there's no way to automate that. I have to go to every single post and delete it manually. I'm still searching for a better solution.
I wonder if I delete my account, all my data will be deleted or Facebook will still have that data in their servers. I wanted to do a full delete from their servers. I don't know if that's possible yet.
For now, I deactivated my account. I'll be away from Facebook for 30 days.
I've been thinking a lot about social media lately.
Actually, I've been thinking about it for a long time.
And I've taken action to minimize my exposure: I deleted my Instagram and Pinterest account, I used extensions to eliminate Facebook's annoying timeline, I unfollowed hundreds of profiles on Twitter.
But I still use social media a little.
I still check Twitter for local weather and traffic news or alerts. And I like to check the latest tweets from some cool authors I follow.
I connect with people using the Facebook Groups platform.
I have a LinkedIn account.
I occasionally go check Reddit.
And after all this time reflecting, tweaking and observing my behavior I still think that the minimum amount of social media usage is not that beneficial. Maybe the benefits do not completely outweighs the downsides.
I can list at least 5 books I've read in the past that made me rethink the way I engage with social media and with the Internet in general:
“The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.”
― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
Which, in the end, is saying that they are extremely addictive, no doubt.
And I worry about it. Have I become addicted without even knowing? How did those websites and apps changed my behavior? Is my mind being hijacked? Am I aware?
I don't have answers right now but I am feeling that after reading Cal Newport's new book I'm gonna have a radical change on how I use social media and the Internet.
I am reading 2 other books right now, but I really want to pick this one up (and maybe change my readings plan for this month a little bit).
But the thing is: I feel more and more overwhelmed by the so called “social media”. I already maintain the few accounts I have with the bare minimum of feeds. Well, my Facebook is totally blank now because I use a News Feed Eradicator and the Nudge extension to practically mute it.
And this book seems to be a sane reflection on how to use digital technologies today. I like minimalism and I like digital tools. Perfect combination.
From the author:
Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. It’s the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world.