Free at last, break­ing the habit a lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Western Times - - LIFE - TIM MCIN­TYRE OPIN­ION

I QUIT Face­book in De­cem­ber af­ter real­is­ing I was check­ing it 30 times a day. Three months later, I have never looked back. Here’s why.

1. Pri­vacy: Face­book tracks your ev­ery move and, shock hor­ror, uses your data. The Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica scan­dal looks ter­ri­ble, but how many other ways have your likes, dis­likes and be­hav­iours been bounced around the in­ter­net to be ea­gerly re­ceived by com­pa­nies and agen­cies?

I’ve al­ways been care­ful with Face­book. I never used my photo on my pro­file and left out as many per­sonal de­tails as al­lowed. No birth­day, phone num­ber, or in­ter­ests. I even pre­tended to be liv­ing in New York (am I over here Zucker­berg, or am I re­ally ... over here?).

2. Com­puter says no: When I de­ac­ti­vated my ac­count, I had to ex­plain why and en­dure Face­book’s al­ter­na­tive sug­ges­tions be­fore they let me go. Not long af­ter, I no­ticed my pro­file was ac­tive again. Turns out I had checked Face­book from a ho­tel in 2014 and then closed the web page rather than log out prop­erly. That meant my ac­count must be re­vived so I could log back in and make sure I wanted to quit, be­fore re­peat­ing the whole process.

3. Friends: Ini­tially it was great to con­nect to peo­ple from my past, but you soon re­alise the friends in your im­me­di­ate life are there for a rea­son. Peo­ple you had noth­ing in com­mon with at school are now peo­ple you have noth­ing in com­mon with on so­cial me­dia.

4. Echo cham­ber: Face­book can con­nect the world, but its al­go­rithms re­ally con­nect us with only those who think the same way. We re­ceive con­tent and page sug­ges­tions aligned with our val­ues and in­ter­ests. We are in echo cham­bers where every­one agrees with each other and be­lieves their opin­ions to be com­mon sense.

5. An­ti­so­cial me­dia: “Look at me, I’m eat­ing a nice break­fast. I lost weight. See my feet on this deckchair? That’s be­cause I’m on hol­i­day. Now I’m sad, why do I trust peo­ple? Does any­one care? I’m start­ing a busi­ness, can you share my page and buy my prod­ucts?” Face­book is no longer about con­nect­ing, but com­pet­ing with oth­ers and beg­ging for at­ten­tion.

6. The lan­guage: Ev­ery­thing is “Lit” or “Woke” these days, un­less they are more “Lit” or “Woke” than first thought, at which point “AF” (As F..k) is added to the end. So be­ing “Woke AF” means be­ing very en­light­ened ... Some­thing I doubt de­scribes many who use that term.

7. No one misses you: When I quit, my wife thought she’d have to han­dle my so­cial life be­cause Face­book is where you get in­vited to fun par­ties ... Let’s just say she hasn’t been too busy. My con­cern peo­ple would miss the im­por­tant things I had to say proved delu­sional. No one no­ticed un­til one friend tried to tag me to make fun of me and re­alised they couldn’t. In three months no one has missed me, but that’s OK, be­cause since I quit, I feel Woke AZ (As Zuck).

Face­book is no longer about con­nect­ing, but com­pet­ing with oth­ers and beg­ging for at­ten­tion.

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