Pete's Log: Goodbye Facebook

Entry #1843, (Life in General)
(posted when I was 42 years old.)

10+ years ago, Facebook was the best. Keeping tabs on old friends, sharing photos, organizing events, it all worked great and the only thing to annoy me was invites to weird mafia games.

I think where it started going downhill was somewhere between easy mobile access and the algorithmic feed. The chronological timeline was great. What you saw was determined solely by when you logged in, not by what some algorithm thought would make you spend the most amount of time engaging with their page.

Sixish months ago I removed Facebook from my phone. I didn't miss it and checked it only sporadically on my desktop. One week from now (Aug 26) I will delete my Facebook account.

A month or two ago I saw a video featuring Jaron Lanier who advised that we should all delete our social media accounts for our own good and the good of society. One point he made that stuck with me is that positive emotions and negative emotions are equally powerful, but that negative emotions ramp up quicker. The algorithms that try to keep you interacting with the page as much as possible pick up on this. Outrage powers social media. It's not healthy.

But it's not just that. It's the incessant tracking. It's the secret meetings with politicians. It's the promotion of misinformation (because it drives engagement). A few days ago I heard an interview on NPR with Facebook's head of security (or some title along those lines) that actually made me change the channel, he sounded so slimy.

For a long time I thought maybe I just maintain my account but only check it rarely. That way they don't make a lot of advertisement revenue off me, but I can still be able to stay in touch with people. But I realized that that only gives me the illusion of staying in touch. It's a passive monitoring of people's lives and not an active effort to stay involved. And more importantly, it lets them keep up the network effect that sucks in so much of what used to be out in the wild web and is now part of their walled garden. I miss the wild web. It was an optimistic web. Please bring it back.