Cross-posted from Facebook.
TL;DR I'm leaving Facebook on my birthday and deleting my account; please follow my blog and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or IM me (email@example.com for Jabber, drew.m.fisher on Skype) if you want to keep in touch.
I'm leaving Facebook. On my birthday, April 24th, I will delete my account. Why? Several reasons:
First, it was a time sink. I read lots, and saw lots of generally useless noise. I learned little from my time spent on Facebook. It's telling that I came to think of it as time spent, rather than time well used. It was no longer a good use of my time. It became filled with uninteresting fluff.
Furthermore, as an obsessive engineer, I seek the best tools for each task I wish to perform. Facebook, while decent at a variety of tasks, is not the best at any of them:
All of the above offer better workflow for their own particular task, more powerful features, and in the long run, more time saved. Few, if any, require any more learning than the comparable tools in Facebook's own.
I came to the conclusion that pretty much the only thing Facebook had going for it was that many people already had an account and spent copious time on the site. While this is perhaps relevant for things that require site registration, I found a very uncompelling argument to keep with it.
Finally, I take issue with Facebook's treatment of its users and their privacy. I recognize that most of you probably won't find this very important or compelling, but Facebook has a pretty long history of:
You all know I'm a techie. For a security- and privacy-minded individual like myself, this sort of behavior (and ongoing trend toward the worse) is deeply troubling. I've complained about these for quite some time. I realized that if I wanted to have any moral authority whatsoever, I needed to put my money where my mouth was, and stop using Facebook myself.
"But," I thought, "how could I leave Facebook? Everyone has an account! It's the primary method a lot of people use to keep in touch with their friends! Think of what you'd lose if you left!"
What would I lose if I left? As a scientist, I decided that the best way to answer my question would be to perform an experiment. Last summer, starting some time around July (I forget the exact date), I stopped logging in to Facebook altogether. Well, with single-digit exceptions over 9 months. Close enough.
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I found myself with more time to read fascinating things, work on personal projects, and enjoy my time in the real world. I finished an electronics project that I'd been thinking about doing for four years. I started writing a blog of the happenings of my life, including writing the software that powers it. Many friends still instant messaged me. I got pictures from friends by email. My mom continued to call me via Skype and ordinary telephone. I got the most epic box of brownies I have seen in my life in the mail. If anything, making the interaction more scarce had made it more precious, and the time I gained was phenomenal.
I consider my experiment a success. I determined that I can live and live well without Facebook. When Sarah Luna wrote that she would leave Facebook on her birthday, I decided that I, too, would delete my account on my birthday. I see it as simply making the gains from the experiment permanent. Moving to Phase 2.
In recognition of the fact that for some of you, this may be the only form of contact by which you know to reach me, I am writing this note to offer you alternatives. It is not my intent to sever contact with all you wonderful people. I simply ask that if you wish to reach me, you do it through any of a multitude of methods that do not involve Facebook:
Contact me, and I will reply happily and at length (although I can't necessarily guarantee promptness). If you write a blog, send me the URL, and I'll subscribe to your feed. Comment on mine and I will write back. I do still want to hear about your lives.
And perhaps consider: what would you really lose if you left, too? Could you make better use of your time?