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Why I left Facebook and then regretted it

It was a moment of drunken clarity.

“I’m leaving FACEBOOK” I announced to the duckrabbit team over a few beers the night before a workshop.

The reasons are multiple.

I’ve started to resent the fact that everything I do on the internet is tracked so that advertisers can sell me crap that I do not need. The photography/videography world is full of very nice people who are obsessed with kit and for a while I’ve been in danger of becoming one. Honestly speaking my experience is the more the talent we buy in are posessed with kit the less they are able to connect with the story in front of them.

The second reason is that as duckrabbit grew I got more and more friend requests from people I’ve never met, or barely know. Instead of declining the request I kept saying yes. I also asked people to become my friend without having any real interest in them as human beings. My page became a bit of a marketing platform. It also meant that my feed was overwhelmed with information about people with whom I have no real connection, providing a stained glass window onto lives that barely exist. Being connected with people on Facebook became a reason not to make the effort in real life. One of my friends’ perfectly summed this up when he wrote, “I’ve known Benjamin since before puberty but Facebook is the only place he talks to me.” Piss poor and true.

None of this is having a go at Facebook. I like Facebook and I have no deep problem with their business model, I just came to the drunken conclusion that my life would be better without it.

Later that night I wrote the following update and then started deleting everyone:

face

I have to admit I felt sad deleting off people who I really like but haven’t seen for many years. I knew that I would probably never see or hear about them again. But then if I really cared I should have made more of an effort to stay in contact in a meaningful way. The sadness was real but momentary.

I’m writing this at Prince George airport in Northern British Columbia where we’ve spent a fantastic week making a film with Daniel Gallant, an ex Nazi skinhead. About an hour after we met with Daniel he took me to one side and said that he wanted to apologise to me for something that he tagged me in on Facebook. I was perplexed. It turned out that he came to the conclusion that he must have pissed me off and that’s why I unfriended him. Then I realised that there must be a lot of people who think I unfriended them for reasons other than the real one.

My bad.

I should have written to all my ‘friends’ and explained I was leaving.

That’s my regret.

But I’m happy I left.

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

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  • Peter

    Is it too post modern to click the Facebook ‘like’ button on this post?

  • Christine

    Interesting thoughts, and I certainly can relate, but for me a big part of Facebook is that it is a place to engage with people I would never meet in ‘real life’ due to physical distances. Yes, FB relationships with actual ‘real life’ friends are different, but its never been confusing enough to end my FB life…

  • http://zenteno.photoshelter.com Hernan Zenteno

    Welcome to the not FB members. I never liked her policy of use of things you make public and how the people contact each other. I have a experience with and old friend that finally call me, we meet with his family and happened a nice night eating pizza and drinking beer. Then, after I left all my contacts phone number and email he saw me surprised, but you don’t have Facebook? Apparently was a barrier for him, I never got any news. Is a sad issue. Several colleagues ask me participate but I prefer the old methods. I don’t want a crowd of a lot of unknown people seeing something I did. It make nonsense for me. Others insist me to get more public exposition for my blog or my website. But I am reluctant too. When Facebook bought Instagram I leave them cause the policy of terms and conditions. Now I read they purchase whatsapp. Life need to be more simple and one to one or face to face relations are best from my humble point of view. I like participate in social platforms like this web page but I always use my name and write directly to a topic not vague things for a multitude of virtual friends.

  • Ann

    “I also asked people to become my friend without having any real interest in them as human beings”. Ouch!

  • http://freeandeasywandering.com/ Bill

    I have come to the conclusion that, outside of conversation, paper correspondence is the best. Not the easiest, for sure. I too bowed out of the ‘Book a few years ago. No regrets whatsoever. What I’ve made a point of doing is to try to engage people I care about in person as much as possible, to write letters, and then as a last resort use the internet. Internet isn’t bad at all, but it does give a veneer of connection where connection is tenuous at best.

    Blogs are good. Twitter I enjoy, because it seems to be, from a technical perspective, relatively honest that it facilitates a relatively shallow type of communication. 140 characters. It’s not pretending to be anything other than a series of off the cuff remarks.

    But the ‘Book offers friendship, and delivers jack to the consumer and big data to the corporation.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      HI Bill,

      thanks for your comment.

  • http://rgphoto.co.uk Rob Gilbert

    It’s not uncommon to hear people moan about having a cluttered facebook feed and giving them access to a lot of your personal information but facebook has facilities to combat this: Firstly I personally categorise all of my ‘friends’ and restrict personal information and post privacy to groups I want to connect with. Secondly I ‘unsubscribe’ from people who don’t post things that are relevant or interesting to me.

    Another technique I trialled a few years ago was a friend-cap at 125 (less than 100 is not cool). This meant de-friending a lot of people and then employing a ‘1 in 1 out’ policy. This worked for a while but then I swapped to the above system.

    And the advertising? AdBlock.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      HI Rob,

      all good tips.

      If I come back that’s the way I’ll do it!

      B

  • David Feuillatre

    I used facebook all the way like Benjamin and was quite unhappy with it.
    Then I used the Rob “unsubscribe” technique for clearing out some of my feed.

    Then I realized it would be an endless struggle and always an illusion to expect a “virtual world” like Facebook to follow the same rules and to provide the same to my soul than the “real world” (define that for yourself).

    So I let facebook doing it’s own thing, I live my real life, my “virtual life” on facebook is only a very little facet of me and I’m happy with that.
    I continue to observe it like magic ball on a weird self-mediatic world, I think people are still trying to figure out what is the best way to use it and it’s quite interesting sometimes. But I prefer to let them do first and care about other things for the time being.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Thanks for that David.

      ‘ I prefer to let them do first and care about other things for the time being.’

      True that.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Never been, maybe one day; then I’ll get super drunk and get a tattoo, and a smartphone to go with it so I can tweet and send a selfie with my tat to all my new friends, before I get bored and drunk again…