Why I Suspended My Facebook Account

There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

It’s hard to believe, but I was extremely productive before social networking came into my life. Not only did I write or revise up to 10 computer how-to books in a year, but I wrote articles about using computers, learned to fly a helicopter and then built a helicopter charter business, and even held down a “real” seasonal job one summer. In my spare time — which I did have — I worked on several novels, went motorcycling and horseback riding, and had a vegetable garden.

People used to say to me, “How do you get so much work done?” I truthfully replied that I didn’t watch much television. I still believe that TV is the main time sucker of “civilized” nations.

What Sucks My Time

Maintaining a blog was the first thing to cut into my time. I took to blogging like a Portuguese water dog takes to water. I always wanted to keep a real journal and the original idea of blogging was a “Web log.” I started blogging in 2003 and have since written about 3,000 entries for this and two other blogs. Many of them chronicle days in my life and things I’m thinking and are a valuable memory aid for me. Others provide information on how to use software or avoid scams. Still others are history lessons or opinion pieces about politics and other controversial topics. I couldn’t give up my blogging any more than I could give up eating. It’s a part of my life.

The loss of my novel manuscript in a hard disk crash — I really thought it was backed up, so you can save the lectures; it was a difficult lesson to learn and I don’t need it rubbed in my face — was extremely painful. I haven’t been able to write any fiction at all since then. Maybe I’m using it as an excuse. Or maybe social networking has cut too deeply into my time, making it impossible to spend time on the things I used to care more about.

I managed to avoid the MySpace craze. That was the first experiment in social networking and a good friend of mine was hooked hard. I didn’t see the point. She was using it as a home page and I already had one of those. (I’ve had a personal Web site since 1994.)

View Maria Langer's profile on LinkedInThen LinkedIn came out and it seemed like a good idea for professional networking, so I joined up. I never spent much time there — and I still don’t. I have a decent sized “network” there, including other writers and editors and even a few pilots. When work got slow, I tried working LinkedIn to get new connections and jobs. I failed miserably. Everyone else on LinkedIn was looking for work; no one was looking for workers. I wrote a bit about it here and elsewhere in this blog.

Facbook LogoThen Facebook, which seemed like the grownup’s version of MySpace, caught my attention and I was sucked in. But I was never hooked. It seemed to me like a complete waste of time. I was apparently expected to build some sort of community based around my home page and “wall.” There were applications and advertisements and a never-ending stream of “friend invitations” from people I did and didn’t know. And e-mail. And I think I was expected to visit the home pages of my “friends” and write on their “walls.” And use applications to share frivolous information or give hugs or sign petitions. I never really participated and tended to ignore all that e-mail Facebook sent me.

Twitter logoBut when Twitter caught my eye in February or March of 2007, it seemed far more interesting to me. “Microblogging.” Meeting new people though short comments they post. At least that’s what it was supposed to be. Like most new Twitter users, I didn’t “get it” at first. But unlike many new Twitter users, I did finally decide that it was for me. I embraced it, and still do. It’s my water cooler, my way to socialize in my otherwise lonely, home-based office. Best of all, it’s easy enough to take on the road with my cell phone. I’ve met people on Twitter who have become real friends and enjoy the interaction with the 100 or so folks I follow and the others who follow me.

Why?

Meanwhile, Facebook continued to bug me with e-mail messages from “friends.” Check out this Web site, add this application, join this group. It never seemed to end. Even when I thought I’d shut down all the e-mail notifications, it continued to dribble in, like there was a leak in the dam, threatening to open up and overwhelm me. I’d visit my Facebook account and look at the home page and wonder why it had all that crap on it. I hadn’t put it there. I couldn’t get rid of most of it. I’d see comments posted by people I knew or didn’t know days or weeks before. Questions I hadn’t answered. Remarks related to Twitter updates.

How could I let something I had almost no control over represent me to the strangers who wanted to know me better?

And why should I bother? I already had a blog that can be found with the easiest address of all: my name.

The other day, a real friend used Facebook to suggest that I follow (or friend?) another Facebook user, FactCheck.org. I was already aware of that user’s Web site. I didn’t see any reason to follow their content in two places any more than I’d see a reason for someone to follow my content in two places. I didn’t see any reason why my friend couldn’t just send me a link to their Web site. Why use a third-party application to get me to follow a Web site in a third party application? Why add a layer of bullshit to ever-more-complex online experience?

I’d been considering suspending my Facebook account for some time and had almost done it twice. But this was the last straw. I had enough social networking bullshit wasting my time. I was obviously missing the point of Facebook and didn’t see any reason why I should devote time and energy to “getting it.” I was already wasting enough time with LinkedIn and Twitter. I had a life to live and I didn’t want to live it in some kind of virtual world. Facebook would be the first step in shedding the social networking crap weighing me down.

So I suspended my Facebook account.

Will I be back one day? Probably not. Will I miss it? Definitely not.

My Advice

Once again, I’m putting out a plea to the folks who spend more time in front of their computers than with their real friends and families: think about what you’re doing. Are you really getting any benefit from the time spent online? Can’t you see how it’s sucking your life away? Wouldn’t you rather spend most or all of that time with real people who matter to you doing real things and building real memories?

I know I would. And I’m trying to.

LinkedIn is likely the next to go.

10 thoughts on “Why I Suspended My Facebook Account

  1. Interesting post!

    Early in my use of FB, I realized I had no interest in most of the time-wasting third party apps and viral silliness. If anyone invites me to “toss a sheep” I ignore. I do find FB valuable as a town square for all walks of my life. My adolescent pen pal, best buddy from grade school, a colleague from 8 years ago and friends from my current life all networked into one hub. Recently I had dinner with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years rediscovered through FB; I don’t think we would have pierced the physical time/space boundaries without a virtual howdy do. Thus I find FB useful as a means of initial re-connection and a smattering of comment chat. 5-10 minutes in the morning and in the evening generally is all I need.

    I think Linked In is replacing the job search boards as a primary recruiting tool. Recently recruiters have found me there, which is nice. It’s also a great as a virtual address book of past colleagues to see what their up to today. And if I’m interested in a particular company, find out if I have any second degree friend of friend connections. But I imagine it’s most useful in the corporate world and not so much for a self employed person like yourself.

    Twitter is the most interesting tool by far. It’s the hive mind pulsing and crackling with information. It functions as a way to see what peeps I know are up to know and meet peeps far and wide who share interests. It’s information dissemination in real time. I just wish there were better filtering tools so I could segment tweeters like I do RSS feeds in Google Reader. (I hate Tweet Deck’s vertical silo UI.) Awaiting some genius to solve that problem.

  2. I delete Facebook “friends” who do meaningless things such as those stupid applications. I even delete my actual friends if their Facebook behaviors are annoying. And they’re still my friends; they’re just not in my Facebook network. I delete people who don’t act like they’re from the same planet as I came from.

    My Facebook “wall” is off so people can’t post anything. There are many ways to simplify Facebook.

    It seems people don’t realize that one does NOT have to keep all the crappy Facebook “friends.”

    Also, I came to the point where I found the way to block ALL applications. And I hide people who get on my nerve so I don’t see them. They can see me but I don’t see them. Often, it’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that their posting do not interest me and I don’t care to spend time to see any time they post something I don’t enjoy knowing.

    I have deleted a lot of people. It’s either I delete them to control my environment or I leave Facebook altogether. I’ve met wonderful people on Facebook and enjoy communicating with them. To be able to do that, some terminations were necessary.

  3. This blog entry is very well written. However, is it really necessary to be judgmental about one form of instant communication versus another? Frankly, how one can feel so smugly superior about friends made and followed via twitter while pleading with others to get a real life and have real relationships, as if any of us knows one way or another how shallow or real other people’s friendships are, escapes me.

    FB provides ways to limit what ends up on a person’s wall. Don’t like the games and other apps? Disable them from your account! Don’t want to see friends’ game scores? Just hide them and they will never show up on your wall again! The reason a friend might communicate with you through a third party application or site instead of just emailing you a link? The friend also has a busy life and more than one friend. He or she can share with multiple people at one time instead of having to email individually, and without even having to go into his or her email account. Want to be sure you’re never bothered again? Be sure all those pests read what you think of them. By the way, if your account was canceled, how come all of a sudden I have a string of your posts in my FB account, including this blog entry? (<;

  4. I am thinking about suspending my FB account again, and this time, for good. I actually googled “why I suspended my FB account” this morning and your blog showed up. I totally agree with you that we are becoming a culture of virtual people who only communicate online. That is definitely harming to our culture in more ways than one! For instance, it is easier to be rude online than face to face. I guarantee that most people wouldn’t have the nerve to say to one’s face what they “say” online, including myself. I agree also that there are benefits too, like reconnecting with others that you might never have been able to before. But more often than not, i see more of a down side to FB than a positive side. I waste sooo much time on it, and i know that when i suspend it, i will go through withdrawal. But i will also have more time to do things like clean my house, organize my files (yuck!), and actually call real people and meet with them at real places….in person. Yes!

    The internet is replacing relationships and friendships in a way that is definitely not healthy for those who cannot discipline themselves to 5 or 10 minutes per day. And i am one of those. It has sucked my life away and i know it. I want more out of life than this.

    One more thing. What’s up with the “timeline” thing? Why is FB going public? How did they make so much money when i haven’t paid them one dime? I do not like the fact that my personal information is made available to so many. I used to play those useless time-wasters like Farmtown, Farmville, Petville, Cafeworld, etc, etc, etc, but deleted all of them a long time ago. I’ve also long ago set privacy settings to “friends only”. But is it enough?

    When i got a ‘friend’ request from my employer, that’s when i began thinking of quitting. I blocked them. My personal life is my personal life. They aren’t entitled to know me in that way. I keep my professional distance.

    The most appalling reason to quit is due to the most recent murders that took place in Tennessee. A girl named Jenelle Potter was defriended by a couple. Her dad got mad about it, took a friend with him and MURDERED the couple in their own home. The woman was holding her 8 month old baby at the time, according to reports.

    Yes i know this is an extreme example. But i’ve even found myself getting angry if my post wasn’t liked by certain people. That is plenty of reason to quit right there. Sorry i rambled on so much. I’ve been thinking about this for a long long time.

    • I can’t argue with anything you said. And I certainly would NOT want my boss to read everything I put on Facebook. In fact, when my father sent me a friend request, I ignored it. I’ve already ignored requests from several acquaintances and family members I simply don’t want following my activities on Facebook.

      There are ways to use Facebook and keep much of your activity private, but is it worth it? I don’t think so. I had to go back on Facebook for work reasons, but, if it weren’t for that, I probably would stay away.

      • I did it!!! I suspended my account this afternoon when i got home from work. It’s not even been 12 hours yet and already i feel withdrawal coming on. Man. I needed to do this. I have Twitter, but i’m one of the few who don’t get it. Nonetheless, i’m really getting an itch to twitter.

        Do you mean your employer required you to have a FB account?

          • Thanks! So far, so good! The first day i thought i was going to have a panic attack. Now i’m feeling better about it. It feels kinda like it’s spring time and i just shed my winter coat. There’s a load off my shoulders. Weird. I didn’t think i would feel this good about it!

            • I’ve been thinking of limiting my Facebook activity to about 10 minutes per day — just the time it takes to check for anything that needs attention for my work. It’s such a time suck — I’m so glad you could be completely free of it!

What do you think?