Linked on March 21, 2019
Brian X. Chen:
The social network's long-stated mission has been to connect people so that we can live in a more open world. But after being off Facebook since October, I found that I did not feel less connected and that my social life didn't suffer, even though I was no longer seeing status updates and pictures on my News Feed.
Over the 14 years that I used Facebook, I accrued about 500 friends. Most were former classmates whom I had lost touch with.
In my real life, I have about 20 friends I talk to on a regular basis. So when I finally deleted Facebook, the fallout was underwhelming.
Those same friends kept in touch over iMessage, Signal or email. We still get dinner or go to the movies together. I can think of one friend who exclusively used Facebook Messenger to communicate — we email now and talk less than we used to, but when we meet in person we are as close as we always were. And I can't remember the last time I attended an event that I was invited to via Facebook, so I never had a case of FOMO.
I'm glad to see this type of article begin to surface. I still have a Facebook account reluctantly in order to the developer tools I need for my job, but that's it. If I didn't need it, I'd delete it today. I wish I could delete it today.
I've never understood the idea that we have to keep up with everyone we've ever encountered in life on social media. Moving on from past connections and acquaintances is normal and healthy.
David Heinemeier Hansson sums up my feelings exactly in a post he wrote last year:
I'm not the same person I was in high school. Not the same person I was at university. Not the same person I was with friends at age 15 as I was with a different group of friends at 21. I'm still not the same person with friends in programming as I am with friends in racing or with family or old mates from Denmark.
What allowed me to change and prosper was the freedom to grow apart and lose touch with people. It's hard to change yourself if you're stuck in the same social orbit. There's a gravitational force that pulls you into repeating the same circular pattern over and over again. Breaking out of that takes tremendous force.