I was registered on Facebook for about two years, but I have finally been able to quit with it. And I am really happy about it. Here is my full story about my experience with social networks in general and why I don't like them.
It's not really about flaming against Facebook or other networks, but more a personal decision everyone has to choose for himself. I just feel like it is my duty to open someone's eyes, as a lot of people still seem to be blind when it comes to the evil sides of social networking.
Still there are young people posting their entire private life every day, without thinking about the consequences and impossibilities of redemption by regretting something later on. When it is online, it is online, stays online and spreads around automatically. There is no way to stop it.
So why did I even start with social networks at all? It is the old story of curious dullness and some kind of peer pressure or at least a mass movement you just can't resist.
It all started in the beginning of 2009. I was working for a real estate investment company when all of a sudden the worldwide financial crisis came in. The company had to declare bankruptcy and most of the staff had to leave. I was one of the lucky few who were able to stay in a new company taking over the old business.
But I lost many nice colleagues and also some good friends. And as it is mostly in life, you say something like “yeah, let's stay in contact and meet someday ago”. Although you know this will probably not happen or you will try to do so but then you meet once and never again. Still, 2009 was also the year when social networks became a mass product in Austria.
First I started with StudiVZ, the German equivalent to Facebook. Of course it never was as good as Facebook, even if the founders were said to have stolen much of the code. So I registered at StudiVZ and started to create my own profile and add old colleagues, friends, school mates and also current real life friends.
I grew up with the Internet and soon had to realize that it is full of criminals and bad guys, so I had created a second identity just for the Net. In StudiVZ I was also very careful at the beginning, using fake names, not uploading any pictures and also being very passive. But soon I had to realize that this doesn't make much sense, as no one can find your profile and also they won't add you if they don't know who you are (not so in Facebook).
So I had to change my mind, opening my private life just a little bit more and also providing real information rather than fake data. The Facebook way, so to say. Fortunately, StudiVZ was getting boring soon, as it was more of a traditional social network, as there were many before. I was also never registered on MySpace, Friendster and co. Actually, there was no activity going on, and also the keeping in contact, the main reason why I started with it in the first place, just didn't work well.
And so there was a real mass escape going on, the default message you read everyday was “you can find me on Facebook now”. Ha ha, but not me, poor souls, I have learned and got smarter, I won't do the same stupid thing again and will never register at Facebook. Instead, I will not use StudiVZ anymore, too.
Now I had a few months rest of stressful networking. But I didn't know what then was going to come. I didn't believe this could be possible, but still we have been able to meet again in real life. All of my colleagues I liked so much came together on one beautiful summer day at the famous Schweizerhaus.
We were exchanging the most recent updates, like the new jobs and other important things in life. Unfortunately the main topic was different. It was about Mafia Wars on Facebook. This was the first experience I had with Facebook. And it says so much about the magic it emitted. I have never visited www.facebook.com or heard anything about Mark Zuckerberg before, but I just had the feeling like everyone else did. I was separated. I felt like Homer Simpson and the Stonecutters. Almost everyone seemed to be part of this very exclusive club, everyone but me. I just had no chance. I was caught.
It was just the next day when I registered on Facebook. And I was overwhelmed. I just typed in my name (my real name of course) and email address, and I instantly had the feeling like Facebook knows me. It just knows who I am and knows who are my friends. Maybe even better that I do. What is actually really scary and sounds spooky in my ears now, was just absolutely fascinating back then.
I'm an IT professional, but still I just didn't know how this worked. Now I do, and I can tell you it is just frightening. Just within a couple of days I had more than 100 friends. Of course they all were not real friends, but at least I really knew them.
So I also started with Mafia Wars. And I did every stupid quiz I was offered by Facebook or a friend. I have to admit that it was fun, and I liked to do so. But I was also naive. I even liked it so much, that I told some of my real life friends, who still could resist, about it and convinced them of joining. Now I feel really ashamed about this.
Fortunately even Facebook started to bore me someday, it just took much longer. In 2011, I didn't post anything, quizzes just weren't enabled any more, I didn't use any app, didn't share anything, didn't like anything, I changed my name to Max Powers and my profile picture to Deadmau5, I stopped with Mafia Wars even back in 2010 and thank God I never started with FarmVille. I had about 120 friends, but only a very few of them were also real life friends, some others I knew, but I absolutely wasn't interested into their lives.
And the Facebook algorithm just seemed to be not working right for me. It always showed me things I just didn't want to see, so I had to block most of my friends. But how much sense does it make to have someone as a friend if you just don't see anything he or she is posting, sharing or uploading? None. So it shouldn't be a big deal to just quit with it and exit forever. Still, I was online once everyday, for at least 5 minutes, sometimes even up to 15 minutes. It sounds not much, but now looking back, it was just too much. Finally, a real friend gave me a book and reading it just opened my eyes. I really just can recommend you to read it.
So what is the conclusion now? I regret two things about the two and a half years I've spent with social networks:
- The unbelievable huge amount of private data I have sold
- and the real life friends I convinced to do so, too.
I thought I am smart and careful and that I don't care about if they sell my data or not. I have nothing to hide, so I have nothing to fear. But this is just naive.
I sold my private information to Facebook, but the only one who got some return also was Facebook. Mostly when you get something for free, the product is not free, but the product is you. This is so much true for Facebook. The only reason why I really registered was, that I wanted to keep in contact with people I like but who are not so good friends to meet them regularly. But this just didn't happen.
So the conclusion is that it was the most expensive waste of time ever. It was expensive because I sold something very valuable without getting any return.