As part of this ‘Simple, Honest Life’ kick I’ve been on for the last few months, I finally took a leap to remove something from my life that I’ve been wanting to get rid of for a long time: Facebook.
There were a few reasons for wanting to do this.
First, I just don’t use it that much anymore. I’m mostly on Instagram for my digital social life. I’ve been trying to free up more of my time to live in the real world and Facebook was a platform I wasn’t using that much, but one that felt easy to get sucked into mindlessly using. It just started to make sense for me that the next step would be to remove the account all together.
Facebook wasn’t doing anything good for my mental health either. In fact, it doesn’t do a lot for most people’s mental health. Here is a great bit from the opening of the research article I just linked: “Facebook, which remains by far the largest social media company, has 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide. As of 2016, the average user was spending 50 minutes per day on Facebook and its sister platforms Instagram and Messenger. There may be no technology since television that has so dramatically reshaped the way people get information and spend their time.” That’s not to say it’s BAD time spent. I’m sure that varies by individual. But I think it’s a good idea to evaluate if the time you spend on Facebook is valuable to you and if it puts you in a good state of mind.
For me, it was adding up precious time in my day by checking and responding to it. A good 20 minutes total. On top of all this I didn’t like the way I was watching people use it. Facebook is full of ads, scams and false information via news and sharing. It felt like an easy way to disengage from all the noise and dare I say it: Fake news. I also didn’t like the way it forced surface level friendships on me and what always felt like false connections with my extended family and internet friends.
The Mental Process of Removing Facebook Forever
The first thing I did to make sure I really wanted to do this was to delete the app from my phone. I did this for three months and only used Facebook on my desktop computer. When I did log in, I found I did not miss it. So the answer to if I’d miss Facebook was a simple no, and the next step was to just delete it.
Well, I soon realized it wasn’t going to be that simple. I had 13 years of crap on this thing and a lot that crap was actually important to me and didn’t live anywhere else but on Facebook.
This important info was mostly photos upon photos that I had uploaded that existed on Facebook and no where else. Some of these were dumb photos, but I wanted them anyway. This used to be an ordeal to obtain. I was thinking of deleting Facebook about five years ago and there was no way at the time to obtain all your photos at once. You had to automatically go in and save them one at a time. This was a problem for someone like me that had over 3,000 + photos.
But all that has changed. Facebook BY LAW has to give you access to all your data now, which includes being able to download all your photos at once into a nifty zip folder. Facebook has messed up so many times in their history with people’s data, there is now a great feature that allows you to download all your data at one go. Directions below:
This entire process took about 15 minutes. They emailed me when my data was ready to be downloaded and two minutes later I had a zip drive of what I thought would just be my photos.
But there was SO MUCH MORE. So much more. Facebook gave me EVERYTHING. Everything I didn’t even know they had. You don’t just get photos. You get every post you’ve ever made, everything you’ve liked, all of the ad interests Facebook has tracked on you and all the ads you’ve clicked on. You even get a list of every friend you’ve ever had on Facebook along with their phone number and email if they provided one at sign up. Even if you aren’t friends anymore. Creepy.
The next thing I had to do was remove myself from my groups and my messenger. This was more difficult. I have a good group of friends from all over the world that uses groups as a way to keep connected. I had to reach out to them to see if there was a way we could communicate differently.
Then I had to see what chats I had in messenger. Which ones were just passing chats and which ones were long threads. For our podcast for Cinemabysmal we use a Facebook messenger chat. I just had to convince the guys to switch to a group chat. Which worked out great because it actually convinced one of them that Facebook was a heap of garbage and they’re now deleting theirs at the beginning of the year. As a side note: you can keep messenger without having Facebook. But for me it was about getting rid of all the extra noise and methods of communication. Just having one message app really appealed to me so I wanted to keep that goal in mind.
Finally I had to go through my friends list and delete the people I didn’t want to keep in touch with through social media anymore. This part was harder. I have a lot of acquaintances on there , but I really took the time and went through and thought about which relationships I valued the most. I went from 475 friends down to 116 friends. That visual alone told me how little Facebook was doing for me and my relationships with the people I cared about.
Then about a week ago I made a post letting the people left on there know I was going to delete my Facebook in a week and if they wanted to keep in touch I gave my phone number, email, website and Instagram. I wouldn’t have given out my phone number before to all 475 people but everyone that was left I found I didn’t mind if they had it. I knew them, they knew me. The great feeling came when I realized that most of them already had my phone number. All that was left was people that I cared for, knew and loved.
And then I deleted it. And I have zero regrets. And I’ll leave you with the instructions on how to deleted your own Facebook because it’s kind of hard and they make it a little tricky.
For those of you that aren’t sure about deleting Facebook, at least get a copy of your data so you can start to remove some of things Facebook has that you aren’t happy about them having. Also, if you keep a copy of your data after you delete Facebook you can restore your profile by signing up again and re uploading the data pack Facebook gives you. So even if you just want to get away for a year and see how you feel, this is a great option.
Step by Step (oh baby)
Another strange find: In settings if you go to ‘Manage Account’, you can request to have your Facebook page deleted when you die. This can avoid having your page become a strange memorial after you pass full of people from high school you haven’t talked to in years claiming they were your best friend:
Now that my Facebook is deleted I have a 30 day grace period to log back in and restore my page. It is slightly annoying to me that this is an option, but I don’t plan on using it and now the deed is done and I can enjoy my official Facebook free life in 2020.