Hello. My name is Laura Lollar. I was a social media junkie.
In 2008, I jumped on the bandwagon and eventually ended up with various Facebook (FB) pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. Since 2001, I have learned SEO, how to build my own websites, blogs, shoot and edit video, produce audio interviews and later this week will launch The Laura Lollar Podcast. (If you are a subscriber, you will also get the podcast episodes automatically. Click here to watch my announcement video.) I have spoken about social media and blogging at conferences around the U.S. and coached non-tekkies how to do it themselves. I got hooked.
Then, earlier this week, I deactivated my Facebook account.
Great balls of fire! You’d think I chopped off an arm. Friends and family are calling and texting — “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Whatever has possessed you?”
A few friends have secretly admitted, “I’m thinking of doing the same thing. But don’t tell anyone — just in case I change my mind.”
They’re not the only ones planning to throw in the towel. From a recent WSJ article: “Twenty six percent of American users deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the 12 months that ended in June, while 42% took a break from checking the service for a period of several weeks or more, according to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center.”
So, after publishing a post notifying friends and family of my intention to leave FB, which only 10% of them probably ever saw due to that pesky algorithm, I waited a few weeks in case I’d change my mind. (I’ve been prone to do that. Just ask my patient husband.) Then last night, I decided it was high time and I pulled the plug.
Here’s why, in no particular order:
The Feed Funnel, Censorship, Privacy and Public Opinion Manipulation
Control. I got real tired of FB determining which posts, photos and articles I’d see in my feed. If I “liked” or commented on a political post or friend’s family photos, I’d see more of the same in my feed for the next few days. God help me if I posted a cat video! Facebook’s algorithm is designed to #1. Feed you what THEY think you want to see based on your behaviors, #2. Feed you what THEY want you to see (i.e. paid ads) and, #3. Block and censor what THEY decide you should NOT see. Which leads me to…
Censorship and Free Speech: A recent New York Times article reported a FB employee leaked over 1,400 pages of the Speech Policing Rulebook to the Times because he “feared that the company was exercising too much power, with too little oversight — and making too many mistakes.”
They employ thousands of people around the world who have 8 seconds or less to decide what should be blocked or approved. That’s just a few seconds longer than most of us can stay on the back of a bull.
“…it has quietly become, with a speed that makes even employees uncomfortable, what is arguably one of the world’s most powerful political regulators…a far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself.”
Privacy Concerns: I always believed we had some control of the information we make public, designate for “just friends” or “just me” on our Privacy Settings. That’s what they told us. But over the years, FB would add new features to the software, many of which would make your information more public than you might wish. But they compromised public trust when they shared our information with “partners” including other technology companies.
“Facebook has been sharing its users’ personal data, including private messages and contact information for users’ friends, with some of the world’s largest technology companies like Microsoft, Amazon, far beyond what it has publicly admitted, according to leaked internal documents.”
Just for giggles, I scanned through my FB friends list and noticed how many of them deactivated their accounts — some were law enforcement and a few former Secret Service folks. Maybe they just got tired of the online arguments, but maybe they also know more than the rest of us.
Tip: if you choose to stay on Facebook, you may want to change your birth year settings or the entire birthdate to “Just Me.” Some folks I know either set up their account in the first place with a fake birthdate or have gone back and changed it to something different.
Arguments, Broken Relationships and Bad Feelings: I counted on my friends, family and colleagues to share articles and insights on culture, current events, movies, books, local government and political events. But not everyone wants to see those articles or opinions. Some disagree with stated positions and some just don’t want to be reminded of how dysfunctional things really are. Some have tons of stress in their lives and can’t handle anything negative right now. Some only want to see family pics and updates, while others want to share recipes.
Everyone wants something different and you can’t make everyone happy. It’s hard to segment relationships in terms of personal opinions and content preferences. People are complex. You can’t predict their likes and dislikes. Some who you never hear from or who never offer congratulations on a wedding, promotion, retirement, birthday or other happy news, will suddenly appear to argue about a political post.
People began to complain of holiday gatherings fraught with tension based on someone’s FB post. (Not in our family – we all think exactly the same. Grin.) Memes would appear reflecting how many family members “unfriended” or “unfollowed” each other after they realized someone they rarely talked to in person does not agree with them on every issue under the sun.
It’s just not worth it. People, friends, family are more important.
Decision Fatigue: One of the biggest energy drains after we lost our home in the Wildfire, were the number of decisions we had to make to clear the property, deal with contractors, rebuild the house, try to remember and inventory everything we owned, etc. My builder called one day to ask what kind of towel bars I wanted to put in the bathrooms. Exhausted from making decisions, I asked him, “Can’t you just pick something out for me?” That didn’t fly, so I trotted on down to the hardware store. Hundreds upon hundreds of decisions can take a toll on your energy. Similarly, deciding who to accept as a “friend,” what posts to “like,” what to share and what to comment on started to take up more time than I was willing to give.
Focus: Speaking of energy, we only have so much of it. One of my favorite quotes is from Coco Chanel, who said, “It’s in the act of deciding what to remove that we place value on what’s left behind.” She was talking about the jewelry and accessories a woman might choose to wear, but it’s also a perfect perspective on where to focus our energy.
Yes, I could spare 15-30 minutes each day checking in on Facebook to say hi to my pals and catch up on local happenings. But I also believe I can text, phone, email, visit in person, connect on LinkedIn or my website. I don’t need Facebook to maintain true friendships, get the news or serve as a platform for my opinions or business. Remember, we don’t own that real estate. If you put too much of your business on Facebook, you run the risk they can change the rules, block your posts or take down your page at any time.
So I said buh-bye to Facebook. And whaddya know — the world has not stopped spinning! If you too decide you want to #deletefacebook, click here to read this article and it’ll take you through the steps.
Thank you to all the new subscribers who followed me over from Facebook after I announced I was leaving. I’m very happy we can stay in touch. There’s a contact page on my website and I’m still on LinkedIn — for now. Bwahaha!