A few days ago, I took the decision to delete my facebook account for good. The idea had long been under consideration, but there were some factors that proved to be the last straw. Throughout this article, I will go over some of the pros and cons of using this highly popular, yet much maligned social media network. Let’s start with some of the things that tickled me the wrong way.
- The Cambridge Analytica scandal
Thanks to the heroic efforts of people like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange among others, most people know that a Big Brother style mass surveillance system is in place all over the world. What still astounds people however is the sheer scale of this snooping. Once you truly delve into the matter and look at the business models of giant tech corporations like Facebook and Google among others, it becomes clear that they are only free because they peddle your privacy and sell it to the highest bidders. In this case however, their attempt to further monetize users’ data may have backfired spectacularly. Apologies by the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are also hard to believe, as he’s the same person who referred to people trusting him with their data as “dumb fucks”.
2. The dangers of Internet Addiction
I joined Facebook in 2007 at the behest of a friend. Over time, I began to use it more and more. I found that much like many people around the world, I whiled away a lot of time unproductively in a way that did not add value to my life. When I got bored, instead of trying to find something interesting to do, I would sometimes take shelter in the bright red lights of notifications and messages. These features are designed in a way not at all dissimilar to those find in casinos. Curiosity killed the cat, but as people are by nature curious, it’s hard to ignore a message especially when it could be significant from a business or relationship point of view. With the introduction of mobile data, this became even more dangerous, although I always made it a point to ignore the beeping sounds while driving, not because it’s illegal, but because it’s extremely unsafe and and foolish to do so. Something had to give. By leaving facebook, I no longer have to check notifications relgiously. I can live my life without risking falling into addiction. If I do not crave alcohol, coffee or cigarettes, why would I want to crave being part of a network that sells personal information for profit?
3. Unrealistic Expectations
Social networking sites do not increase happiness. Comparing oneself to others doesn’t do that either. All we have to do is focus on improving ourselves everyday, and the world by extension. People show off endlessly on the internet, showcasing their best and ultimately fake sides. We all have our highs and lows, but this is not immediately evident on social networking sites. You risk falling into a spiral of believing everybody is travelling and having fun, while you’re not doing so at the moment. Let’s not even start talking about the issue of fake news, which spreads like wildfire thanks to social networking sites.
All in all, I am really excited to be gone. It’s true that I may suffer a few withdrawal symptoms related to the sudden “loss” of some 2,000 people, but I didn’t speak to most of those on a regular basis anyway. Not having access to events pages will also suck, as that’s quite a useful feature, but in the end it comes with the rest of the baggage. 4 companies, including Airbnb and Etoro among others had access to my data thanks to Facebook. By leaving Facebook and deleting my account, I may not be able to erase my online trace, but I do prevent unscrupulous companies from packaging and selling me as a product. Let’s not kid ourselves, I’m still on Whatsapp and still use Google, although no longer for image searches. Doubtless, user data is still collected about me, but if enough people give them the boot, perhaps user privacy will gain some momentum. In the meantime, you may want to give this some thought. Perhaps you too can benefit from a bit of detox from social networks.