Life without Facebook: one week in

It’s already over a week since I deleted my Facebook account: that went fast! Some reflections:

The good

Mostly, I’m not feeling its absence. I used to read Facebook over breakfast each morning, but I still have two other social networks (Twitter, LiveJournal), the news and many RSS feeds to keep up with… I’m hardly stuck for reading material.

I’m really enjoying the freedom of not needing to update Facebook. As per my previous post, the overhead of writing updates for such a confused/diverse audience was getting silly: it’s a real relief to not feel obliged to post updates while worrying about if they’re ‘correct’ in some way.

I received lengthy emails from a couple of friends who shared their feelings about whether they should be on Facebook, privacy concerns and the difficulty of updating for mixed audiences: it’s not just me then! I’m glad I was able to start a conversation about it.

I do miss seeing updates from close (and not-so-close) friends: as an expat, I’m geographically far from many of the people I care about, and Facebook was a good mechanism for closing that gap in a superficial way. But superficial is the key word: reading the odd sentence from someone you care about may make you feel more connected, but I’m unconvinced it makes a real difference… so, maybe this isn’t so bad as it seems. (People are still remarking to me: “Wait, you left Facebook?” Clearly, Facebook connections are not so valuable that their absence is instantly noticed.)

The bad

I’m feeling a bit of a gap regarding photos. Facebook was my repository for photos, and I liked tagging images with me and friends. I’m currently pondering what to do instead (assuming, of course, that I don’t return to FB!): options include using Google (but they have so much data on everyone already…); Flickr; or self-hosting. I don’t know. (Comments welcome!)

By deleting my Facebook account, I deleted the associated updates… including the annoucement that I was going to leave! I left relatively fast, so the status update and link to the explanatory blog post was only up for an afternoon. This means that a bunch of those 295 people still don’t know I’ve left: many of them won’t care (rightly so!) but it’s still a somewhat confusing scenario.

I can only think of one connection I really regret losing, because it was someone meaningful for whom I have no email or phone details. I deleted relatively fast, and it was after deletion I realised my error. Still, I can get in touch via a mutual contact, so although it’s inconvenient, it’s fixable.

Mike Jewell wrote some thoughtful comments about the nature of shared/community resources: in summary, when I left Facebook, so did a good chunk of ‘his’ photos. With retrospect, I’d liked to have taken the opportunity to say to people who are tagged in photos “Hey, would you like a copy of this before I leave?” (Of course, I’m relatively easy to find online, so I hope anyone who does want such a thing will get in touch.)

So with retrospect, maybe I should have taken it more slowly: perhaps waited a week with the status update, explanation and offer of copies of material to those who want it. That would have solved three of the above four issues!

The ugly

I wasn’t the only WebSci summer school participant to leave Facebook, and I was happy to retweet the comment of a companion who had also left:

Freedom from Facebook!

It was a fun tweet, and it was nice not to feel obliged to look through statuses. But later on, a close friend got in touch to ask if I really felt that checking Facebook was an uninteresting waste of time, if I felt that way about what she had to say on there. Of course, the answer was no: her activities are interesting and important to me. So — it’s important to be clear about where the feeling of relief is coming from: for me, this is about freedom from feeling obliged to read updates from everyone, from not really knowing how or when to post updates, and from the privacy/copyright concerns.

Summing up

I find it weird how hard I found it to step away from Facebook given my research interests in the area and my awareness of the privacy issues: then again, it is of course an emotional as well as a logical decision.

Right now, I’m still feeling pretty happy off-Facebook. I’m not sure what to do about photo-sharing, but that’s not the biggest deal in the world. I may yet return to the network, but if I did I feel I’d need to manage my connections differently, and that sounds like a very big job.

One final thing: to my knowledge, I haven’t yet missed any invitations to hip and happening parties… 😉


2 responses to this post.

  1. […] Copyright ‘n’ legal « Life without Facebook: one week in […]


  2. […] prior posts on this topic: initial departure, reflections one week in, realising I miss close […]


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