Kin Lane

My Rocky Relationship With Facebook

I thought this post would end up being lengthy and difficult to write, but honestly I’ve been working on my relationships with Facebook for some time now. I had cleaned up my profile a while back. Deleting all of my posts, comments, and other activity prior to 2017. Since then I haven’t used the site much. Before that I used it a lot. I can’t 100% ditch Facebook because there are some people on there I care about and will most likely never see again, or know how to get a hold of them without Facebook. However, I’ve reached a point with the platform that I will only look in there once or twice a day at the most, sometimes going days without looking in there at all, and I never ever use on my mobile devices—-I only use the web browser to peak in from time to time, and post infrequently.

Facebook doesn’t have any business value for me. My professional Facebook pages have never done very well. But it does still bring me some personal value from time to time. I began hitting a rocky point with Facebook in 2013 when I worked in Washington D.C. for the Obama administration as a Presidential Innovation Fellow. I would have staffers from the White House posting relevant policy matters in one post, and people I grew up with posting lynching photos in another—-forcing me to cull many people I grew up with. As we approached the 2016 election, another culling of individuals became reality after some pretty disturbing comments and posts from family and friends supporting Trump made their way across my timeline. Not to mention the endless trip of misinformation on vaccinations, brown people, Russians, and other topics that made the through my timeline on a regular basis. I just do not need this in my life. I do not need to be connected with these people.

I have my Facebook privacy settings narrowed down. I delete the application from my phone. I spend minimal time there, mostly fence-sitting, and rarely posting anything. I only use it to lightly stay up on what friends and family are doing, and as a lifeline to connect with folks I may not have any other way to connect with. I am better off without Facebook. I’m not nearly as depressed about things without these connections with Facebook’s algorithm in my face throughout the day. Facebook can be pretty toxic if you do not manage the people and topics you are exposed to. You do not have to maintain connections with people just because you knew them in high school. You don’t have to be friends with family members that make you uncomfortable, harass you, or let their friends harass you. You can stay in tune with the world, and maintain connections without Facebook.

It takes a while to ween yourself off the application, and the platform. Eventually you find the site pretty boring, and you begin to stop remember it exists if you can’t easily reach for it on your mobile phone. Facebook does get pretty desperate to get your attention and will be emailing you a lot, kind of like a jilted lover. However, over time things settle, and Facebook stops dominating your life, and driving your reality. You have to reduce the number of connections on the platform to a meaningful amount. You have to remove it from your mobile phone, and even go so far as to remove bookmarks and other convenient links to it. Make yourself work to get at it. Eventually it will fall into the background of your digital life. Ideally you are finding other things to do offline, and not just replacing Facebook with another digital distraction. Eventually you stop feeling the need to perform on the social platform, and your life gets back to some kind of normality—-hopefully an offline normality.

Facebook is the poster child for me of what technology should not be in our life. They have made it clear that they do not respect the privacy, security, and well-being of the users of their platform. They have made it clear that they choose advertising profits over the users of their platform. We are nothing but a raw material commodity to them, and they have demonstrated that they only do the bare minimum to keep our information safe, and us using their platform. How many times have they said they are sorry now? In return, they have now lost my trust. I won’t use their applications regularly. I will only put what data I need into their platform to stay up to date with a handful of friends. I have a rocky relationships with Facebook, and like many of the folks I’ve culled from Facebook, I don’t think we will be patching things up anytime soon. We just don’t see eye to eye when it comes to valuing humans over profit, politics, and stock market performance. I’m just too human centered to reconcile on this one.