Aquiles.me

Why I stopped using Facebook

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Two years ago I decided that it was enough, that I wanted to completely stop using Facebook . The reasons behind were multiple:

  • I started paying attention to how much time I was wasting on Facebook.
  • I became greatly concerned about my privacy

So I think it is important to explore both dimensions of what I perceived as a problem that needed a corrective action.

Wasted time

One of the premises for using Facebook is that is the only way to keep in touch with loved ones , especially if, like me, you have emigrated to a far away destination. For a while I also thought the same. Without questioning what does "keep in touch" means, I wanted to see if the time I was investing on Facebook was actually being used for that scope or something else.

I actively monitored how much time spent on Facebook was giving me something back. Even if I couldn't build a scientific approach to this, I actively tracked how much of my time was being used by watching a random video re-shared by someone I had on my contact list, and how much I actually spent looking at photos of my friends, and updating with the latest news.

I quickly discovered that Facebook was showing me many more updates with photos or videos than with plain text. This already means that if someone was publishing an update on their lives, I was actually likely to miss it. There is a correlation between the times we click on something and how it is illustrated, as any SEO expert could corroborate.

Besides that, I also payed attention to the photos and videos I was exposed to. The amount of advertisement is insane. I think that up to 25% of the things I was seeing were promoted posts. But, OK, Facebook must make a living as well. Of the remaining 75%, I would say that around 85% was something that didn't relate to the person sharing it. I have seen a lot of hilarious videos of people jumping to empty swimming pools and being chased by a donkey. But they were not my friends nor family.

Surprisingly, though, I was very prone to binge watch those videos, despite their quality. Facebook definitely nailed it. Even being aware and trying to beat the odds, I really felt compelled to watch, to click through. I was hooked no doubts. Even if I didn't have Facebook on my phone, when I was logging in on the computer that was guaranteed at least 15 minutes on the website.

Biased Family Updates

And then, there's the remaining 15% of the things I was watching. Holiday photos, personal recounts of things that happened. Surprisingly, there was a humongous predominance of happy news. Holidays in places I didn't even know they existed. Babies born, marriages. It was all happy and perfect wherever I was looking.

In part, this is fueled by people itself, who prefer to share happy news. In part this is fueled by the platform itself and what it chooses to show the other users. And then it is an engagement vortex. People are incentivized to share positive news because they get more responses, etc. I have personally digged up sad stories that Facebook decided not to show me.

Not so much of keeping up

After very careful examination of my own patters, I realized I was not using Facebook to keep up. At least not predominantly. Most of my time was wasted on other things, and I couldn't help it. The little dose of keeping up seems to be enough for us to construct a completely erroneous image of what we actually do on the platform.

I had thousands of 'friends' on Facebook. At the beginning I was proud of not asking anybody for friendship, just letting others add me. I was also proud of being able to tell how I've met each one of my "friends'. Until I couldn't anymore.

What happens with all the data I generated

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Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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