Deleting my presence from the biggest social media platform: one year in.
In January 2019, after having thought about it for a while, I decided to delete my Facebook account. Yes, I decided to delete it, not to deactivate it. The reasons were multiple and even though the timing might suggest that it was due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the main reasons were not driven by privacy concerns. Sure, the scandal played a small part in my decision, but it was more of an added bonus rather than a driving factor. Proof of this is that I still use WhatsApp as a main messaging platform, and my Instagram account is still active and thriving.
So why did I decide to delete my Facebook account?
The main reason I decided to quit Facebook was a combination of two factors:
1. I was ‘wasting’ a lot of time on the platform
2. I was not ‘enjoying’ the time on the platform
Due to the combination of the above reasons, my decision was pretty straight forward. I backed up all my stuff and clicked on YES when Facebook asked me if I was sure I wanted to permanently delete all of my data. I was secretly hoping that moving away from the platform would have led me to have more free time, but I knew that I probably would have converted what was Facebook Time into Insert_Other_Social_Media_Here Time. And that’s exactly what happened: I started using Reddit, Twitter and Instagram more frequently and while I didn’t necessarily gain any free time, I did not regret the choice because I enjoyed exploring these platforms more. Time wasted on Facebook felt literally wasted.
I am here today, one year later, to discuss the impact of this choice and bring together what I miss from the platform; exploring the consequences of abandoning the social media of my generation.
Everyone/No one is on Facebook
This is one of the least serious consequences I found, and I decided to put it first to ease in the discussion. I am 27 years old. I think people around my age are-what I like to call-the generation on the Facebook threshold.
Younger generations weren’t necessarily brought up with Facebook. They were introduced to its existence, probably briefly explored it and quickly moved to newer platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and more recently TikTok. Older generations however saw our generation grow with Facebook, slowly caught up with us and fell in love with it. This created a weird paradox where nowadays everyone seems to be on Facebook while, at the same time, no one seems to be on Facebook anymore. So, while nobody seems to be interested in Facebook, I keep stumbling in situations where people assume I have a Facebook account.
“Have you seen that cute cat video I shared on Facebook?” “No sorry, I don’t have Facebook.”
“I’ll just share the event with you on Facebook.” “Sorry, I don’t have Facebook.”
“I tried to send you something on Messenger, but I couldn’t find you! Have you blocked me by any chance?” “I haven’t blocked you, I deleted Facebook a year ago!”
As I stated at the beginning, this is more of a mild inconvenience than a real issue. My mum proceeded to quickly whip her phone out and show me the cat video in question and most of my other friends usually find a way to contact me. However, this underlines how for many years Facebook was a hub that hosted most aspects of my digital persona: messaging, events, networking, casual posting… everything.
This is one of the things I miss the most, to be completely honest. Groups are one of the best features of Facebook and matured together with the platform reaching perfection. Whether I wanted to group together all my friends to share pictures and comments about our most recent holiday together, or I wanted to join a community of software developers to ask for help and support on one of my projects, groups was my go-to solution.
At the time of my account deletion, I had a group for everything on Facebook. University friends, past holidays, people met abroad, various communities, bikers, musicians of my Italian hometown… everything. I even had a group that was used as a musical advent calendar where people shared music they loved for the month of December.
I tried to fill the void with Reddit and for some things it did the trick well enough, but the number of users on Facebook combined with the ability to put together a professional environment with family and friends was-and still is-unbeatable.
Ok, this is a weird point to end on, but hear me out.
I am not a hoarder. I usually try to sell something as soon as I don’t need it anymore and I also try to sell stuff before buying something similar. This leads me to be an avid user of marketplace apps. I’ve used plenty of apps in my days in Italy, but most recently-since I’ve moved to the UK-I’ve used Shpock, GumTree, eBay and donation apps such as Olio.
Nothing beats Facebook Marketplace.
Due to the massive userbase, any item listed on Facebook Marketplace will get attention in the first hours of being posted and you will sell much faster than anywhere else. The gap between this tool and the competition is so big that most of the times I end up using my partner’s Facebook account to sell things.