One Year Since Quitting Facebook
Use of FB in daily lives
Since it’s free to sign up and use its services, Facebook has been popular for many Filipinos from all walks of life. Here they get updates from friends and non-friends, from relatives, from celebrities, and even from the news. It has become its own social news aggregate. Users provide the data, such as date of birth, school last attended, the things they like or don’t like, etc.; and these data are then fed to the platform’s algorithm that’s being tweaked to better serve you, i.e, show you things you might appreciate.
As far as we know, the telecom providers here in the Philippines provide free data to FB users. This is useful, especially with the Messenger, in which one can send and receive virtually unlimited number of messages to and from their friends and family, without having to worry about data charges. There are limitations, of course, when using only free data. For example, photos and videos are not outright available. Still, Facebook, and its other services, Instagram and WhatsApp, seems to be the practical choice when connecting to people with smartphones nowadays.
Why Quit FB
Knowing the practical uses of FB, why then do we recommend on quitting the platform altogether?
Because when it mishandled some 87 million personally identifiable information, we should now suspect that it’s not the best platform out there to trust our data with. Also, Facebook has been acting up, not a behavior of a company we like to support.
There’s also a more important notion that quitting FB predicates, and that is quitting Social Media completely. While there are many social networking sites, FB and its subsidiaries hold the most clout, Twitter following closely behind, at least outside China.
Social media has become the gateway to promote the lifestyles we can’t afford. We actively engage in it for fear of missing out. Until we realize that use of our Time is the most distant concept from Free, we will continue expressing ourselves in platforms like Facebook, expecting validation from people.
There are many tutorials out there that detail the exact way of deactivating and permanently deleting your FB account, but we like the WikiHow the best.
Once deactivated, you still need to wait for 30 days of “probation” period before FB would finally take down your profile from the platform. The “probation” period is mostly to test if you really want to quit. We don’t know for sure, however, if they would keep records of your data even after “taking them down”. Knowing FB, though, it’s best assumed that they would. During the wait, be sure to resist the urge to log back in, as this would only reactivate your account, and reset the 30-day count.
The Argument for How to Contact Family & Friends
We recommend instant messaging apps that support end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which is “a system of communication where the only people who can read the messages are the people communicating,” according to this Wired article.
If you must still be in social media (hey, no judgement from us), PrivacyTools also has a list of decentralized social networks, which you can check out here.
“But how can I quit when life is boring?”
Modern technology has provided us many things in life. Now, information is accessible to us 24/7. The dopamine hit when we encounter a novel information is worth noting, since it’s one of the main reasons of social media addiction.
It’s okay to not enjoy every moment.
It’s okay to be bored. The next time it happens, observe yourself what happens when you let boredom be. What does it feel like? Can it be so intimidating that you’d let it win by eradicating it? Paradoxical, it sounds like, and that’s what happens every time you fill your mind with posts from social media.
If you stay still for a while, it can lead to introspection that you may have never done in a long while. Soon, things surface from this boredom: you hear the sounds of nature; you feel your body itching; you begin to see the details that you didn’t notice before. And yet we are quick to label them unexciting. Why so? We argue that paying attention to yourself, to other people, and to your surroundings outside the digital space, and especially outside social media, leads to more interesting discoveries that in turn become more nourishing when such connections are made to flourish.
And don’t take it from us. One study suggest that “boredom increases creativity.” However, such is applicable only to “individuals with a high learning goal orientation, high need for cognition, high openness to experience, and high internal locus of control, suggesting that boredom motivates individuals to engage in novelty-seeking responses.”
What to do with the free hours (or, The Novelty-Seeking Responses)
When you finally bid FB good riddance, what do you do with this newfound free time?
The most obvious would be to pick up one or two hobbies, although two would be better: one physical, one mental. For example, you could start doing short runs (physical), while learning a new language (mental). You can kick start both of these with minimal expense on your end.
If you’d like to stick a routine, consider:
- doing housework, clean up your room, cook lunch, buy groceries;
- or, if you are done with those, study and learn something new (a language, a skill);
- or, if you are done with that for the day, call friends, meet up and be around people, familiar or new;
- or, if you have already met them, go for a walk outside, explore the neighborhood;
- or, if it’s rainy, read a book, watch a movie;
- or, if you already did that, listen to music, but focus on it and don’t dismiss it on the background;
- or, you have heard already all the albums, practice playing a few songs on the guitar (or any music instrument);
- or, if you already did that, take a nap, write something on your journal and reflect, meditate;
- or, you know, you could use some shower.
Personal opinions of having and not having Facebook
Isya has FB (as she tells it)
Facebook has enabled cheap, fast, and reliable means of communication for families who are continents apart to stay connected with each other.
Since the FB’s UI/UX (user interface and user experience, respectively, both are closely intertwined) is designed to keep its users' attention on the platform for as long as possible (e.g. by infinite scrolling and/or news feed tailored to the user’s behavior), it can be time consuming. As a marketing tool, this is necessary: the longer you are on FB, the more exposed you are to the many advertisements. What if we spent these X amount of hours in more meaningful activities?
Another important question we should ask ourselves is, “Are we still talking to each other?” Meaning, do our connections in the platform have any meaning to our lives? Or does Facebook, as well as other major social media platforms, simply create FOMO, eventually leading to emotional exhaustion?
Ohio has no FB (as he tells it)
I am no longer subjected to news, which have now spilled over to Facebook for visibility. While staying informed is needed in order to function in society (however that goes), news, as it is presented by mainstream media, do not benefit me in any way. If anything, it only worsens my mood, given that they are rarely structured to be just facts. It’s laid out to stir the most emotions. In doing so increases the engagement.
I don’t need to focus on them, as I only have control over two things, really: what I think and what I do. All else is beyond me. Problems come in once I start trying to control the external forces.
I know that this mindset isn’t for everyone, but this is what helped me to quit FB, and to be honest, it has freed me from certain anxieties that only exposure to social media can cause.
“Staying informed” becomes an excuse to check in regularly, a bad trip that the media exploits to make me dig in more into the rabbit hole.
Since a lot of peoples – from creatives to corporations, politicians to propagandists, and everyone in between – rely now on social media for PR (public relations and/or press release), I am missing the latest happenings around me. But I don’t see this as a big con. Instead, this joy of missing out ("the emotional intelligence that makes you present and content with where you are at life") lets me focus on other things that I find more fulfilling to accomplish. And anyway, if the news becomes so relevant, there’s no escaping it: people around me will talk more often about it, and soon enough, it will have reached me organically by word of mouth.
And yet, I cannot rely on word of mouth alone, especially when it comes to real-time communication. Free FB data bridges this spacetime gap between family and friends. Since I have none, I’m out of the loop.
Then, they will come around and ask me why I did it. I’m not always able to answer, or, if i do, not phrase it understandably. And the inquirers will leave unconvinced.
In the age of information, it’s become an unwritten rule to have an online presence. While we believe that this shouldn’t be the case, the opposite would raise suspicion. To avoid that, we recommend for now to have an updated LinkedIn profile. Having one also reduces skepticism, which you would find helpful in the gates of Immigration when they do background checks on you.
However, LinkedIn suffered from data breach in 2012 (here and here) and in 2016 (here, here, and here). Although there hasn’t been any more reported breaches as of writing this, we can’t bet on it yet.
If you have access to more resources, you can make a simple website of your own, and put your CV there, bypassing altogether the need for creating a LinkedIn profile. Plus, you have complete control on what data you’d like to share.
Many would argue that Reddit is a forum site, not a social networking site, but that debate is beyond the scope of this post. Still, we include it here, because unlike FB, it centers on anonymity. It also features a voting system (upvote and downvote) that allows the community to judge for themselves what the quality of a post is. In theory, the combination of the two, anonymity and voting system, encourages healthy discussions within forums (subreddits, they are called, or subs). In practice, however, it’s more nuanced than that (read: it builds echo chambers). Some subs can be more prone to circlejerking than others.
We recommend to steer clear from the main subreddits as they are, usually, repositories of rubbish content. We also leave it up to you to discern for yourself which ones do foster healthy discussions. Certainly not r/dankmemes, though. You have been advised.
Any RSS Feed
According to Wikipedia:
RSS (originally RDF Site Summary; later, two competing approaches emerged, which used the backronyms Rich Site Summary and Really Simple Syndication respectively) is a web feed which allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format. […] Subscribing to a website RSS removes the need for the user to manually check the website for new content. Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs the user of any updates.
It’s quite similar to Facebook’s News Feed, but without the algorithm that pre-selects posts to present to you. With the algorithm, other posts are often drowned out, and sometimes forgotten. It’s not so with RSS Feed.
In many RSS Feeds, updates from subscriptions are shown in chronological order by default, entrusting the user the task to select which posts are worth consuming.
When considering what RSS reader to choose, pick the one that’s accessible to all platforms (web based, Android, iOS) so you can read Content wherever you want. You may want to start here.
Don’t know which sites to subscribe to yet? Check this list out.
With all the pros and cons enumerated, the answer to the question, “Is it worth spending time in FB, or just ditch it altogether?” should be “Ditch it!”
There are many avenues for maintaining connection with other people, and we enlisted some of them here. You should also do your own research when choosing what platform to use, and encourage your family and friends to try and switch with you.
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