Breaking Up with Facebook…For Real, This Time

If you’ve been watching my Twitter, lately, you may have seen that I have permanently deleted my personal Facebook account and the associated page for TOAL. I’d threatened to do this several times over the last five years, or so, but I finally went through with it yesterday (03/20). Technically, it still exists and my personal Twitter is still feeding into Facebook, causing some confusion as to my status. This is still happening because Facebook, naturally, doesn’t want you to leave so they kindly keep your site active for fourteen days hoping that you’ll change your mind; hoping that after a cooling off period you’ll run back to their open arms.

Not this time.

I thought I’d use the analogy of an unhealthy — even abusive — relationship to describe my relationship to Facebook, but after looking up some sites on the subject I realize that that is completely inappropriate. I do think there is a romantic breakup analogy to be made, though. Maybe I should try it in a letter.

Dear Facebook,

We have been through so much over the last ten years. You were there when I got my first job out of college, when I got married. You supported me through the years when I was acting, and you were there when we first started camping. Because of you, I was able to share all of these special moments with friends, family, and acquaintances across the world. Literally, across the world. My friend Marisol lives in Australia now and you were my principal means of contact with her.

But it wasn’t all happy memories and hiking photos, either. Because you felt like a safe space I allowed my own freak flag to fly as high and as proud as I could. Understandably, this made others uncomfortable. Even if I wasn’t frequently rude, I could be sometimes. And even being polite about my thoughts and beliefs I still managed to alienate myself from any number of people. Most, if not all, of those relationships never recovered. The fact is that through you I probably damaged more relationships than I strengthened. That may not be exactly your fault, but you did facilitate it. You were my enabler.

We’ve both changed a lot over the last decade. When we started you were a source of connections to far flung individuals with whom one would share photos and a running account of your day. Now, you’re a major media empire. Since I joined with you I’ve gotten married, changed my philosophical lifestance, added hobbies, changed jobs twice, moved a whole bunch, and even relocated across the country.

While I’ve always known you had been associated with some shady characters I was able to salve my conscious by thinking that wasn’t personally contributing to the worst parts of your business. But now, now I can’t do that any more. As I told my former pastor all those years ago, “I can no longer believe beyond reason,” as I once did. I no longer believe that even the most careful and studious practitioner of information literacy and privacy policies can successfully use your service in good faith. You have broken that faith. It is an infidelity that I can no longer turn a blind eye to. That is why I must end our decade-long relationship. 

I would wish you good luck in your future endeavors, but honestly, I don’t believe your future is bright, and the best thing I can possibly do is walk away, not look back, and leave you to the consequences of your own actions. Goodbye, Facebook.

Sincerely,

Me.

Doing the Deed

If you want to breakup with Facebook like I did there are some steps you need to take. Obviously, they don’t want you to do this so they don’t make these features all that easy to find. Luckily, I’m here to help you.

The first thing you need to do is to get a copy of all of your Facebook data. You can do this at anytime, but it’s probably good to do this just before you delete your account so that you don’t completely lose all of that valuable stuff that you’ve posted over the years. You can find those directions here.

I wasn’t timing it yesterday when I did this but I’d say I got the zip file of my data in less than ten minutes from making the request. That file I then dutifully placed in my Dropbox folder for safe keeping.

Once you’ve done that, you can then get on with the deleting. Again, these directions are not easy to find. I originally got there by going the account deactivation tutorial that had an embedded link to the deletion process. Since I’ve already gone through the deletion process and any new logins to Facebook over the next thirteen days will cancel my deletion I can’t link directly to it now, BUT there is a helpful set of directions here from TheVerge.com.

Deleting a Facebook account is not a decision that should be entered into lightly. I had three people with whom I was the most concerned about losing contact with through the medium, including Marisol in Australia. However, I was able to get reliable contact information from all three of them and I trust that those relationships will continue. Some people from my past that I will always think fondly of will likely be lost to me forever. That is sad, but truthfully, my valuation of those relationships are most likely one-way anyway, considering the amount of contact we actually had via Facebook. I will always hold a place of love for them, and should we reconnect via another medium later they will be welcomed with open arms.

I’ll also point out that when I announced on Facebook that I was seriously considering this I listed in that post approximately twenty other media by which I could be contacted, including telephone, snail mail, and in person. No one asked for any specific contact information or handles. Chances are, the people who want a relationship with me already have the contact information they need and those who don’t really don’t need it to begin with.

So, twenty-four hours after deleting my Facebook account my life has not ended. I doubt yours would, either. Make good choices.

Make it a good day.

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