Editorial In less than a decade, Facebook has transformed from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room project into a global phenomenon where member activity and trends make the news of the evening.
I joined the site in 2005 when the “new MySpace” required an academic email address and was populated mostly by fellow tech experts. I initially resisted the urge to sign up because I already had a profile on a rival social network, but I eventually succumbed to peer pressure on campus; This was the new good thing and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
The early days of Facebook were quite different from now. The site layout and profile pages were very basic, and the young and carefree didn’t have to worry about family members or employers stumbling across suspicious photos of them.
Since the site reduced membership requirements, I initially considered the extension to be a good thing. I reconnected with childhood friends and high school classmates, and as a budding photographer, I loved sharing photos and getting feedback from my friend list.
But as Facebook closes in on a billion active users, its massive success is mostly because I’ve decided to end my long-standing relationship with the social network. Seven years is a long time for any online account to be maintained, which is far less than the almost daily attention it demands.
Contrary to what some of my friends think, there was not a single incident that “shut me apart” so to speak; The decision had been building for some time. I knew when I woke up every morning and instinctively reached for my phone to check on the latest overnight events posted on my News Feed, I knew there was a problem.
Often, anything I could find would upset my mood even before I even crawled out of bed. Many things bothered me, but the short list includes political satire, religious sermons, relationship drama and grammar that would frustrate a first grade teacher.
When I told friends about my plan to leave the social network, some suggested I wipe my contact list to eliminate some of the bullshit, but after deleting over 300 people a few months ago, I Knew this was not the solution. After all, the fact that I even had over 600 “friends” is comical. Others recommended hiding the feed from people who frequently annoyed me, but again, this would only hide the real issue: I was tired of Facebook.
The social network has been commercialized and ruined by its fame. The temptation to rekindle old friendships has long passed. I’ve always been with a close group, so I knew those people would still be around, even if my profile wasn’t.
I pulled the plug on my account a few weeks ago and after a brief sense of liberation, I quickly faced the consequences of my decision.
Spotify forces you to have a Facebook account if you want to use the service.
I couldn’t remember that Spotify required Facebook and, despite being a paid subscriber, I was immediately locked out of my account. I had fallen in love with the streaming music service and wasn’t thrilled at the thought of missing out on the playlists I’d created over the past year.
I quickly realized that I would no longer be able to watch some MMA fights on Facebook. The UFC streams select preliminary matches live on Facebook before the main card is broadcast through various television outlets. Facebook is the only way to watch these fights, so once again, I was missing out on other forms of entertainment because I didn’t want a Facebook account.
It seemed like the only option I had was to cancel my Spotify subscription and stop watching the UFC prelims or create a dummy Facebook account without a public profile – I chose the latter.
I’ve linked Spotify to my dummy Facebook account but I’ve lost access to the iconic playlist from my old account. I emailed Spotify’s technical support, but as expected, they did not respond. It was only after I used my press credentials that I got help.
Spotify managed to transfer my playlists from my old account to the new dummy account and the service provided me with a one month premium subscription code because I paid for a full month of service before I disabled my Facebook account.
I’ve been “off grid” so to speak for a few weeks now and it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. It’s not refreshing to have to deal with all the riff riffs that come with Facebook. A few minutes of checking Facebook every few hours really adds up to a day – or seven years.
I don’t think I’ve lost anything worthwhile since I closed my account. Of the few close friends and family members, I suspect most of the 300+ people on my friend list will even notice that I’m gone. It shows how different we are all in such a connected world.
Like any addiction, breaking the habit can take some time.