If you search “quitting Facebook” on your favorite search engine, you’ll find more than a few posts with the title: “Why I Quit Facebook.” These authors have various reasons for quitting one of the most (if not the most) popular social media sites, but a lot of it comes down to feeling overwhelmed by being connected to the social media Borg. There are other writers who got tired of posts that show up on their news feed, some just got tired of their friends — many of whom were not friends, but acquaintances or professional connections.
Me? I grew tired of Facebook years ago, and quit because it had become too much like high school — mostly because I had friended a lot of people I knew in high school. Then, because I became a social media director for a group of radio stations, had to activate a professional profile so I could manage the stations’ pages and run contests. I “friended” people who were in the radio industry for that profile, but deleted my account when I got laid off from that job. Then, I reactivated the profile when I was trying to find jobs as a social media director. Well, that was a bust. No jobs in that field. But then I thought it would be a good place to promote my freelance work and hopefully make some connections for full-time work. Nope. That didn’t work, either.
People on Facebook have demonstrated over and over what they generally enjoy seeing on their news feed: pictures of people they know having fun, the food they eat, the drinks they drink, their pets, their kids…their lives — but mostly the most idealized parts of their lives. They also want posts to be funny, inspiring, confessional…but they don’t like it when their friends share music, movie recommendations, or books they are reading (who reads anything but Facebook posts?) Well, for a guy like me who posts what they are working on (i.e., articles on music, film, TV, and videos about political issues), this stuff is a HUGE turn off — with my “friends” anyway. Now, I did have some real friends on my list, and enjoyed interacting with them, but it seemed to me I was trying to do two things at once: be social in a personal way, and be social in a professional way. Now, that’s not a problem for a lot of people, but for me who was trying to keep the professional profile fairly professional, it was getting weird. But that wasn’t the larger reason I quit Facebook and Twitter. The real reason was that I was checking those platforms way too much. Because I have a smartphone, the apps are right there on the home screen and I just found myself opening the apps over and over and it was making me kind of annoyed that I was becoming an addict. So I quit. But I didn’t entirely quit social media. I’m still on Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. With those sites, though, I don’t feel compelled to check those sites all that often.
The result? It’s so much more quiet — and I can blog more. I’ve said this before in a rant about Facebook, but the company makes its money from people like you and me from all the data we give to the company, who in turn use that information to sell stuff back to us. Most people don’t mind the trade-off, but when it comes to spending time on social media (and blogging is social if people comment), I’d rather spend it with a platform that I control because I pay for it. I like to write, and blogging is a good way to build a small audience of readers with whom you interact. Facebook operates in a similar way, but there are far too many people who don’t have the attention span for blogs, so they use Facebook has a simple “quick hit” blogging platform that is more about giving people slivers of what you’re thinking about than expressing yourself more fully.
I’m not alone in the whole digital detox or digital detachment trend (a small trend at this point), but it’s pretty clear that people are going to reach the point of diminishing returns when this type of social interaction loses its appeal.