Facebook Expat

The big blue monster that eats your time is gone from my life. The reasons aren't noble, but the surprise is that the world is not so bad once you leave its icy grip.

Facebook is often seen as an evil intrusion into our lives. Both an annoying compulsion and yet a neccessary way of keeping in touch with those around us. People are often mocked for a seemingly religious devotion to their feeds but at the same time ignore them at your peril as important information passes you by.

I’ve spent the last year using Facebook less and less, finding the negatives of being obliged to check on a stream of information that not only is well outside my interests, but can also be considered manipulative as well. But this isn’t a moralistic post about how I refuse to give my information to large companies who sell me as their product, no its far more simplistic and personal than that.

I’ve grown out of needing it.

In days gone by my high-school friends and I would organise our days out through Facebook. Whole summers would be carefully carved up into individual group chats about going golfing, taking trains to the coast and what summer blockbusters were worth forking over our hard earned pocket money towards. Even then however time would be wasted as differences in opinion would spiral beyond normal interaction, sucking everyone down into protracted debates on trivial points.

It seems that even with personable faces as avatars, people would find the anonymity of text on a screen far easier to drive spanners deep into the friendship machinery.

Fast forwarding to the first year of university as networks are made, new people are met and the social web expands and contracts almost daily as people find their place in a new, far more fluid world order. Here at the social height where all of Facebooks offerings are gratefully used - with the photos of nights out haunting you long after the hangover subsides, the events section planning the next night of chaos and communication flowing even between members of the same house.

But each year less and less emphasis is made on finding new ‘friends’. Workloads increase, sure, and this may play a part in it. But you also begin to work towards life after the party ends. Here the crucial decisions are made.

Facebook is about making, keeping and rediscovering connections. There are many happy stories of long lost friends reuniting, and love finding its way across continents and oceans. For some people this is all they want - they’ll put up with the privacy issues, the increase in promoted posts or the constant manipulation of news to keep you happy and engaged.

But not me. The more I saw ‘we think you might like’ appear on my feed the more I felt my phone was just an advertisement delivery device. Long-time friends used Facebook as a half-hearted way of keeping in touch, but when the need arose for true friendship gestures they scattered as easily as closing a tab with a mouse. It grows tiresome having this constant blue presence leaning over your shoulder, only for it to have nothing to show for it.

Tonight I’ve taken the decision to shut my page down. I have downloaded the data and shall archive it, as I have with all my photographs and important documents.

At the end of the day the people listed under friends are nothing more than the results of algorithms to attempt to keep you interested. Once this veil is removed you being to see how people interact with the service - you included.

A surprising hypocrisy that formed this last straw was the expectation that I should be watching for changes on my feed. Only to be lambasted for attempting to communicate using Facebook. A platform, for communication and connecting with people.

I return now to the world of text messages, phone calls and old fashioned calendar apps. My group message thread is the pub around the corner and my evening has already improved knowing I won’t have to check the advertisement riddled, algorithmic social experiment for a long time to come.