I've decided to quit Facebook. This time next week, I will delete my Facebook profile, which also means my public page will come down at the same time.
If you are my friend on Facebook, and especially if you have made the effort to "like" or "follow" or whatever the terminology is these days my public page, I want to thank you for your support and the sense of community you have given me over the past eight years.
Thank you, thank you! I'm not unaware that your support has been a huge part of bringing readership and community to this blog: Facebook is far and away the biggest referrer of traffic to my blog, and I know that in freeing myself from what feel like the "shackles" of this particular social media platform, I will also be losing a lot of valuable support from the people who help make this blog a happy place for me. I wish there was a way to do it differently, but you can't have a public Facebook page without also having a private profile, so when I close the latter down, the former will go too.
Once upon a time, Facebook was a wonderful way to stay in touch with the people I love, who live all over the world. Often it was the ONLY reliable way. Email addresses change, phone numbers change, but Facebook profiles rarely do so we didn't lose touch.
Since those days, though, I feel as though Facebook has become such a negative influence in my life.
Over time, Facebook has taken it upon itself to decide whose updates I see and whose I don't, so I can no longer REALLY stay in touch with what all my friends near and far are doing, only the friends whose statuses and shared links get the most interaction (you guys are great too, but it's like only talking to the most popular people at your own birthday party: I like my quiet and shy and geeky friends too!). And when I like or follow a page or business, Facebook decides whether or not I get to see updates from them, too, so all the events and innovations and deals and campaigns I signed up to see frequently get missed.
Facebook does, however, make sure I see frighteningly-accurate advertisements. For example if I research a particular brand of audio equipment for a work article, the next time I log in to Facebook, competitor brands of the same technology will just-so-happen to be advertised in the side bar, as Facebook trawls my browser history and uses it to "target" what I see.
Facebook constantly changes up and jeopardises my privacy (this move was particularly annoying for me in avoiding a stalker-type person) and the ownership of my content (for example read 1. underneath "Sharing Your Content and Information," here), and even thinks itself entitled to conduct social experiments on me and my friends, without our permission.
But the worst of my falling out of like with Facebook is not down to Facebook's behaviour, but to my own.
I resent the time I spend on Facebook, but I use it anyway. I don't want to log in but, when I do, I'm drawn into its rabbit-hole of links and photos and videos and shared content and wind up clicking through to articles that aren't edifying and don't add anything particularly positive to my life, and insist on reading them when I should be spending time with my family. The other day I was sitting in the playroom with the children, and caught myself being terse with Scout ("YES Scout, what do you WANT?") when she "Hey Mummy hey Mummy hey Mummy"-ed me, because I was annoyed that I had had to read the same paragraph three times. It was a paragraph in an article I hadn't known existed five minutes earlier, about some celebrities I wasn't particularly interested in, but somehow here I was so desperate to read what was said and join in the comment thread relating to whatever mild controversy the story was recounting, that I ignored and then grumbled at my own children.
I'm time-poor and yet I waste my own precious time AND the time of my family on something I don't enjoy, and that's crazy. So I'm quitting.
I really hope that you and I can find ways to stay in touch and that I can keep drawing inspiration from you. We managed before social media, right? I am hoping (possibly naively) that we can do it again. So if you would like to stick around with me, I would LOVE that. The personal connections and creative inspiration found on Facebook were what drew me to it in the first place, and my love of friendship and community and creativity certainly hasn't changed, only the forum through which I hope to find those things. So if you want to stay in touch, here's how ...
* The best way is right here: I will keep this blog going, and it's a mix of personal stories from our lives, food I like to eat, places I like to go, my snail-mail and other creative projects, and a celebration of other artistic people and projects. There's a "subscribe" button on the right-hand side of this page that signs you up to receive email notifications whenever there is a new post
* You can find me on Instagram at @naomibulger
* You can send me an email at nabulger (at) gmail (dot) com
* We can write to each other the old-fashioned way! My postal address is:
PO Box 469
So that's it. Goodbye Facebook, and hello freedom. I must admit, I CAN'T WAIT until next week, when I can hit "disable my account." Already the decision to do this has lifted a weight from my shoulders.
What about you. Have you ever considered quitting Facebook? Have you already done it? What are your experiences of social media? I do realise that not everyone dislikes it as much as me, and for many people, it is a wonderful, social place. How do you keep it positive?