Mashable is calling right now high-time to remove Facebook from our lives, and for a few great reasons but most importantly, because it’s bad for us. Here’s what we’re hearing:
Who of us hasn’t at least once threatened to delete our account? The impulse is nearly universal, although the reasons for it can differ as widely as Facebook’s approximately 2 billion users. But some truths are so singular that not even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can escape them.
Filter bubbles are Facebook’s most recent, most infamous misstep. Do you know what filter bubbles are? They’re digital tools that categorize conversations between like-minded individuals, meaning only people with similar opinions on politics, and news and society as yours will show up in your feed.
Can you imagine how harmful it could be to only be surrounded by people with your same opinion on anything — and everything — on a social media platform? Imagine never having anyone contest or negate your argument, or any argument, because you all believe in the same thing…but perhaps it’s inherently wrong or harmful? Or racist? Or sexist?
The idea that Facebook silos off conversations between like-minded individuals, creating a harmful feedback loop of self-reinforcing nonsense, isn’t new, but it came to particular prominence following the 2016 presidential election.
Despite the highfalutin talk of its founder and CEO, “making the world more open and connected” is only the company’s mission as long as it serves the higher purpose of profit. When it benefits Facebook to do the opposite, by, say, feeding users exactly the truth-free garbage they want in order to drive engagement, Facebook seems plenty content to do just that.
Facebook is largely responsible for the Fake News phenomenon, and that makes us feel sick.
Facebook is a shady company
Facebook’s employees have demonstrated a willingness to exploit their users in ways that demand remembering. The company was called out in 2014 for running a study that manipulated unknowing participants’ newsfeeds by showing either a disproportionate number of uplifting or depressing posts. The idea was to see if the content of the newsfeed could alter the moods of users. Essentially, Facebook was curious if it could make their users sad. So they did. That’s some seriously shady stuff.
Facebook genuinely makes people sad
Besides, the very act of being on Facebook has been psychologically determined to make its users feel sad in a 2014 study published in Computers in Human Behavior.
Researchers found that passively consuming information isn’t fulfilling or satisfying, especially on Facebook. Participants in the Computers in Human Behavior study experienced a sharp decline in their moods after scrolling through Facebook. Interestingly, they didn’t experience the same emotional decline when they surfed the internet. The toll on mental health was unique to Facebook.
Decluttering your social life
How many “friends” do you have on Facebook? How many of those people do you actually care about?
With Facebook, a large social network all too often equals a bogged down social network. Facebook stopped being about true connectivity ages ago.
Instead, it is now primarily a place where you are forced to confront the odious political beliefs of your once high school friend, or get shamed by a relative for some photo a friend tagged you in, or get harassed with event invites from an obnoxious coworker insisting that you’d just love his one-man show.
Facebook is a chore, in other words, and one that for far too many years has been thankless.
This is not an argument in favor of becoming a luddite or shunning your fellow man. To the contrary, ditching the passive hovering of Facebooking in favor of emailing, calling, or texting someone is a way to use technology to engage with those you actually care about — not just those you felt obligated to “friend.”
Many people hold off on deleting their Facebook account for fear of missing out. But here’s a dirty little secret: There are plenty of ways to get photos, invitations, and notifications other than Facebook.
All it takes is establishing a new, preferred method of communicating with your friends. Try reaching out to them via text, instead of Messenger, and chances are they’ll respond in kind. It’s a remarkably easy thing to do — and something you definitely should do.
As you ponder whether or not to delete your account, it’s worth considering at what point a tool crosses from the realm of useful to that of burden. Because whatever that point is, Facebook long ago passed it. Once you’re free of Zuckerberg’s clutches you’ll wonder how you stuck it out for so long in the first place.