(originally posted 5/14/2019, updated 6/20/2019, updated again 12/29/2019)
I normally don’t make New Years resolutions. I figure if a change is worth making, why not start right now, instead of waiting until some arbitrary date on the calendar? Besides, most New Years resolutions are broken anyhow, and if I’m going to make a change in my life, why do it in a way that’s expected to fail? I guess I’m superstitious like that. But this year, I made one. I just didn’t tell many people. My resolution was to break up with Facebook and Instagram.
Anyone reading this probably already knows a dozen reasons to leave Facebook. For me personally, there are two main reasons. First, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram is dishonest, and I can’t justify being an enabler anymore. Second, I’m disappointed with how far they’ve let – and even encouraged – online communities to devolve. I’m not gonna go into the reasons in any more depth. The internet has a steady stream of news articles about why.
So, what next? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I get out of Facebook. When I first signed up in September 2007, the site didn’t do much. But now it serves a lot of purposes. The company’s key to success has been being the “one stop shop” for a lot of different features. It’s convenient to have these things all in one place, but it’s not really essential. Here are the different benefits I feel like I’ve gotten:
- a way to stay in touch with friends and family
- a way to share experiences and information with others online who have the same hobbies and interests – games, sports, travel, food, etc.
- a way to read about important local, regional, national, and international news, and opinions from experts
- a way to share my own opinions and experiences to whoever is interested
- a way to schedule and plan events with friends and family
That’s a lot of benefits all under one roof. So how am I approaching getting rid of all that? Well, I’m learning about what other services exist that help with each of these things. In fact, I started reading about alternatives back in October 2018, and have been trying several of them since then. My hope is that by using other online services, I can fill each of those gaps to some degree. For example, there’s no need to rely on Facebook for the daily news, even though a lot of people use it for that. There are a dozen other ways to learn about important news from a variety of perspectives.
What do I expect to miss?
Facebook has spent billions of dollars refining their service to keep me and you engaged as long as possible. They have used every trick in the book and invented several news ones to get people to keep reading for longer and longer amounts of time. So I don’t expect that whatever set of replacement services I put together will “engage” me to the same degree. And actually, that’s a good thing. I spend too much time on social media as it is. So I’m hoping that this change increases the amount of free time I spend on more productive things.
I think I’ll make a new set of online acquaintances, most likely. And I’ll go back to getting news from better quality news sources. I hope to read books more and read Facebook less.
My check lists
As I said, I’ve already been working at this for several months. Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:
- Read a whole bunch about how to do this – see the bibliography below, if you’re curious
- Unfriended about 200 Facebook “friends” who really weren’t friends
- Deleted all my weird fun Facebook pages (I made up a fake band, a fake Russian fake US patriot site, and a few others)
- Imported all my Facebook photos into Apple Photos, mirrored to Amazon Photos
- Revamped and upgraded my blog site, Todd Bradley’s Galaxy: http://toddbradley.com
- Set up accounts on MeWe and Mastodon social media networks
- Became a paying subscriber to Medium and Reddit, sources of news and smart (as well as some dumb) essays
- Changed my Facebook privacy so my posts are only visible by Friends instead of Public
- Exported all my posts and media from Facebook and downloaded the files to my home computer for safe keeping
- Signed up for Signal and Feedly
Coming up next:
- DONE Tell my friends and family about this grand scheme
- DONE Encourage people to subscribe to my blog if they want to stay in touch
- DONE Consider Tumblr as a microblogging platform, since nobody uses it for porn anymore
- ABANDONED Link WordPress to Facebook so when I publish a new WordPress post, Facebook friends see an excerpt
- DONE Let all my friends and family know other ways to contact me – phone, text, email, etc.
- DONE Delete Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger apps from my phone and iPad
- ABANDONED Maybe write some software to import my 12 years of Facebook posts into my blog
- https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/10/a-new-app-called-garden-helps-you-stay-in-touch-with-friends-and-family-without-facebook – I read the article on Garden, but it doesn’t sound too impressive. I found a similar app called Cultivate (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cultivate-relationship-manager/id1327755166) which sounds like a clone.
- https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/business/delete-facebook-account.html – details of the procedure of how to delete your account, with a few caveats to think about (integration with other sites and services, etc.)
- https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/facebook-alternatives – main points:
- Use Signal for Messaging and Group Chats
- Get your news from Feedly
- Eventbrite to replace Facebook events
- Letgo is great for Buying/Selling stuff online
- Try a good old fashioned Calendar for Birthday Reminders
- Going forward: Don’t be afraid to use disinformation online
- https://www.expressvpn.com/internet-privacy/how-to-permanently-delete-your-facebook-account – similar to other articles, it talks about the mechanics of it, but also recommends some other tools and articles for decluttering
- https://download.cnet.com/news/can-mewe-become-the-anti-facebook-of-social-media – very short article, not too relevant since I’m already a member
- https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-alternatives – a little bit new to me, but not much
- https://www.eff.org/privacybadger – not directly related to getting off Facebook, but if privacy is important, this is a good tool
I just updated this to show the 4 of 7 items from the “Coming up next” list I’ve completed since posting it. Almost there!
And now I’m done with the “Coming up next” stuff. Nothing left to do but download one last snapshot of my data and then turn off the accounts.