Deactivating Facebook, Reactivating Facebook

Deactivating Facebook

My one resolution for 2010 is to only do things that feel good and right. Last night, as part of that resolution I deactivated my Facebook account. It wasn’t an action I took lightly, but it was something that I felt like I needed to do.

By the end of 2009, I was making several visits to Facebook a day. I’d have a moment of downtime during lunch, in between meetings, after dinner or before sleep, and Facebook was the first site that would come to mind. I’d hit the site, and of course I’d have to click through all of my notifications and see what comments people had left on my posts. Read, comment. And why not check the news feed? Read, comment, like In addition to the times I’d visit Facebook on my own, throughout the day I’d receive an occasional message or event invite via the site. Read, mark as attending, reply. And oh while I’m here, let’s check the news feed again. Read, comment, like.

(On Facebook, you can get notifications for a lot of things, but I didn’t really use Facebook apps, so I generally only received notifications when someone commented or liked one of my posts or when someone commented or liked a post that I also commented on. If you put a lot into it, you get a lot out of it. And me, I was putting a lot into it. Beyond simply commenting and liking news feed posts, I was posting updates and links almost daily. So the influx of notifications I received with every visit was mostly my own doing.)

I was probably spending at least an hour a day on Facebook. That’s 7 hours a week, 28 hours a month - and at least two weeks a year.** I’m not a terribly busy person but I personally find that to be a huge chunk of my time.

I realize that many people have no issues spending this amount of time browsing, commenting and liking on Facebook. While writing this entry, I asked a friend of mine how much time she spent on Facebook, and she answered “maybe an hour or two.” But she couldn’t use it at work.

I also realize that many people find Facebook entertaining, useful and/or valuable. I sometimes found it entertaining, useful and valuable as well. But many more things didn’t feel right: the compulsion to visit the site several times a day, the endless yammering, the “likes,” the dating ads, the distorted idea of “privacy” that Facebook promotes, the lack of control I felt when using the site.

I had a few options: I could post and comment on Facebook less, I could login less, or I could deactivate my account. Posting to Facebook less was easier. Restraining myself from commenting was hard. Logging in less was harder. In short, I couldn’t change my activity on my own, so I needed external moderation. Deactivating my account was really easy, and it would automatically keep me from logging in, posting and commenting. My plan is to keep my account deactivated for at least rest of January, watch how often I try to use Facebook (and for what reason), see if I miss it - or see if I forget about it - and then go from there.

Facebook isn’t just a website anymore. It’s become part of our lives. And like anything in our lives, especially something that we spend so much time using, it deserves a critical evaluation. I hope to reactivate my account someday, but next time I visit I want to feel better about my experience there. I want it to feel right.


** Some may be asking, “What about Twitter.” I feel like I have more control over my Twitter experience, mainly because Twitter only has a stream. It’s really just updates, mentions and an occasional direct message. No “friends,” no mysterious news feed, no notifications, no photos, and not a million other things have no need for. As a result, I spend much less time on Twitter, and the time I do spend there feels more valuable.


Reactivating Facebook

For folks who weren’t following along, I deactivated Facebook back in January because I felt like it was slowly taking over my life. Basically, I wanted to prevent myself from being able to immediately log in and using the site. It worked, and I didn’t use Facebook at all for a little over three weeks.

I’m proud to say that I use Facebook significantly less now. Essentially, I only use it as an extended address book and to RSVP for events as it’s practically become the de facto standard for events and invites.

A few services I use (Tumblr, Netflix and YouTube to name a few) still automatically post to Facebook on my behalf, which I’m okay with because I don’t ever have to worry about comment notifications on these posts. In fact, I don’t ever have to worry about comment notifications on any post because I’ve turned off commenting. If you want to reduce the time you spend on Facebook without deactivating your account, turning off commenting on your posts is probably my top suggestion. (As a sidenote, I tried disabling my wall for a short period of time, but I felt like that was going a little too far. Visiting a profile without a wall feels like visiting a site without a home page; I re-enabled it shortly afterwards.)

It’s hard not to pass through Facebook without at least glancing at the News Feed, which I’ve done on several occasions. I think I’ve read a small handful of posts and have left two comments. Overall, my 1+ hours a day has been reduced to a few minutes a day at the most. I’d say that’s a very good thing.

I feel like I can say that it’s a good thing because I don’t miss it at all and the little interaction I have with the site feels much healthier. If you do miss Facebook when you don’t use it, and you enjoy the time you spend on there, that’s great. But I would ask you to take a more critical look at your experience on Facebook and ask yourself, despite how entertaining it might seem in the moment, does it truly feel good and right?


Deactivating Facebook and Reactivating Facebook were originally published in January 2010 and March 2010 on my tumblelog, also unraveled.

Comments

  1. I totally agree with your sentiment there - I spent too much time on it, tried leaving it, and ended up missing some key social events where people just assumed everyone was on there and it was the sole medium for invites.

    Rejoining and only setting it to forward event info has partially solved my problem, although I might give turning comments off a go.

    Slight aside to deactivating Facebook: A lot of people are getting up in arms over the privacy issues/settings with FB and also deactivating, but that’s really a topic for another post I guess.

    Whilst I agree with a lot of what’s being said, one must also remember that FB is a private enterprise that we get to use for free in exchange for providing information to FB, and that we are not really it’s customers, just users.

    Sticking to the new adage of not putting anything online you wouldn’t want shared publicly, I think it’s ok to keep FB running with a limited subset of information and settings muted.

    As you say it really is the defacto tool for event invites, despite others like upcoming.org working well, and therefore is really hard to leave.

  2. Since Facebook is for girls, you made a good decision.

  3. i totally agree…a few minutes a day is just about right…when i first started, i accepted every single friend who asked…but recently…i realized that almost half of my FB friends were not friends at all…so i did the unthinkable - removed them from my FB….but aside from one…no one didnt event notice (i think)…btw…nicely written

  4. I just want my Facebook page back. All my friends and family are on there.

  5. Good decision and great suggestions. I too need to spent lesser time on facebook.

  6. Great article. I was facing the same situation. All I wanted was to keep my friends contact, and make sure they can contact me. What I did was empty my News Feed. You just have to click the cross at the top right of a post, and ask to “Hide” this person news. You take a few minutes to do that for all your friends…

    Then, your Facebook homepage stays empty ! You just see notifications and messages. You may go there several times a day, but you quickly leave if there are no notifications…

  7. The desactivating Facebook section you wrote conveys the same feeling I had when I decided to desactivate mine, this wrong feeling about overusing it, and the feeling that you need it but you know you don’t.

    Since then, I feel much more efficient when going on the internet because I don’t go to Facebook. I don’t feel the need to use it anymore and prefer other community websites that I visit less often.

  8. I deactivated my facebook a month (actually I think it’s been two now!) ago and haven’t regretted it once! I’m sure I’ll be back on eventually but for now it’s too time-consuming!

    Very interesting to read your thoughts!

  9. Deactivating Facebook, Reactivating Facebook | unraveled

Comments are closed for this entry

Please send your feedback via Twitter to @jmk.