Facebook and its discontents
August 7, 2013 7:15 AM   Subscribe

You used to use Facebook regularly, and then you quit. Or tried to quit. Please tell me about it.

I have a very conflicted relationship with Facebook.

Because of all the usual negatives people identify (drama, conflict, vaguebooking, distraction, lack of real relationship, overexposure, privacy/security, corporatism) I have slashed my friends list by over half over the last couple years. I find I am still experiencing Facebook as about 80% neutral or positive, 20% strongly negative and upsetting.

Why am I still on there?

  • It's the one place my family exchanges information. We are not great communicators to begin with, but now that it's around, no one calls or emails any more, and the way I learn about family events is through Facebook.
  • There is a public programming side to my job, and it is very helpful to the programs for me to be able to see and share the marketing of events we're doing, share photos afterward, and comment about the events.
  • I have a couple of prominent volunteer roles in organizations and we rely on Facebook for a lot of our communications/positioning/community building. I moderate a couple pages.
  • I have a professional blog that has a Facebook "arm."
  • I like being in on the conversations that happen with close friends and my SO, and seeing what people say about things I've recently done with them, etc. So I don't like being on there and just not reading it. Also, my friend set tends to be hypercommunicative so there's quite a bit of back and forth daily.

    So I'm considering quitting, but obviously that's a little complicated in my case. What did you do in a similar situation? Defriend everyone and just manage your pages? Block everyone but family? Quit altogether? Take a break? Develop some kind of personal policy?

    If you quit, what did you find changed or was harder for you afterward? How did you compensate to stay in touch with people you mostly communicated with via Facebook before? What surprised you about quitting?

    If you did not quit, what steps did you take to render it less distracting and negative in your life?

    The most helpful answers for me will probably come from people who were relatively heavy users and big communicators, like me, who made a change in their use of it. I know there are people who can have 800 friends of all stripes and backgrounds, not bother to read everything, not be bothered by whatever they read, and it's all a big "eh" to them. I really envy those people, but for whatever reasons, that is not me. I have already limited my reactions as much as possible, reduced distraction as much as possible, stopped participating in contentious discussions, blocked really difficult people - I think I've made all the personal fixes I can, and it's still causing me problems. I strongly dislike the feeling of addiction all this causes: "I want to be free of this thing, but I neeeeeed it."

    So if you can relate to that at all, I would love to hear how you handled it. Thanks.
  • posted by Miko to Computers & Internet (32 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
    I hide tons, and tons of people. That way, I don't see the reports of ecards, passive aggressive whining, etc. I hide myself from some people, as well -I really don't need some peoples' negative comments on things I find interesting. I still have a lot of friends I keep in touch with via Facebook, plus invites, gigs, parties, etc.
    posted by kellyblah at 7:26 AM on August 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

    It's trivial to hide people from your newsfeed who post a lot of garbage without having to make the difficult decision to "defriend" them or not. If you hide people who post the things that you dislike and cannot help but engage on, then that should cut down on a lot of what you hope to avoid.

    Much as MeFi's unofficial slogan might be "flag it and move on", you can apply the same principle to Facebook - "hide and move on". THen you actively have to go to people's pages who post things you find objectionable, rather than it simply having it shoved in your face every time you login.
    posted by modernnomad at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

    Yep, "hiding", or unclicking "show on newsfeed" can help. And, of course, defriending those people/entities who you, in reality, have little use for.
    posted by HuronBob at 7:29 AM on August 7, 2013

    I had a similar question a while back (though my use was solely personal--you're leagues beyond the minor entanglements I had). I have radically reduced my FB time to a couple of minutes a day, and my sole participation in the site is to "like" someone's happy news now and then, and occasionally write a comment to further concretize just how much I like someone's happy news. If a post or status requires more than a like or a happy comment, I just keep scrolling. I've defriended a lot of people and hidden anyone whose posts give me a second thought of annoyance. (Which was a significant cohort.)

    This is not entirely relevant to you, given your "power user" status--but lemme say, FB light is so nice. I don't think about it. When I go, I only see things that are pleasant. Visits are now very brief, leaving me more time for important things like MeFi and Words with Friends.

    But one practical piece of advice that may be more relevant to you would be to confine your "business" time on FB to a work account. My wife has some roles that overlap yours (particularly at her last job), and when she was on the clock, she used only the institutional/organizational FB account. If memory serves, you're at a museum. Does the museum have a FB account you can use to post the photos, share updates, etc.? Could you set up a FB account for the volunteer orgs you work with?

    Good luck! Tuning out feels so good.
    posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:30 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

    I took a 6 month hiatus. It felt good.
    Now I'm just another addict.

    As kellyblah pointed out I also have many people on ignore and I have my privacy settings maxed out.
    Maybe try using it as an email and not getting sucked into the feed.

    Good luck
    posted by ibakecake at 7:30 AM on August 7, 2013

    If you quit, what did you find changed or was harder for you afterward? How did you compensate to stay in touch with people you mostly communicated with via Facebook before? What surprised you about quitting?

    Just like quitting smoking I spent a lot of time thinking thinking thinking that this was a change I needed to make for myself but I was reluctant to do and then one day just did it cold turkey.

    One of the nice things about getting away from the unceasing hum of Facebook was that I rapidly narrowed down the list of people with whom I'd want to stay in touch. There's still a core group of friends that I email regularly - they're not always so great about emailing back. It's been a few years since I left Facebook and I still feel like I'm missing out on a lot of what goes on back in my hometown.

    The only thing that actually surprised me about quitting is that it wasn't nearly as much fun as I thought it would be to say, "Oh, I don't have a Facebook account" in a really snooty tone. I had counted on bigger personal amusement in fake pretentiousness.

    (but seriously I do still think sometimes about creating a new account in a fake name, locking it down tight, and adding only my smallest group of true friends. I never want to recreate that experience of having Everyone From Every Point In My Life on my friends list, but I do see that it's a valuable tool for keeping in touch.)
    posted by komara at 7:33 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

    I feel like we are in the exact same situation: severely pruned friends list, manage FB pages for work and hobbies, certain things where it's the only way to communicate with people.

    I am currently trying to pare down my use of it a lot, which is hard for all the reasons you mention. But here's what I'm trying:
    1. I went through my already smallish friends list and created a Close Friends list of only like a dozen people and bookmarked that news feed rather than the general one. So when I go to Facebook for personal stuff, that's where I go.
    2. I've stopped posting my own status updates entirely, and greatly reduced how much I comment or like on others.
    3. The minute a post I have commented on or am tagged in gets busy, I unfollow in notifications so it stops distracting me.
    4. When I'm managing my work or hobby pages, I click the gear icon in the corner and Use Facebook As that page, which also helps reduce notification distraction from personal stuff and temptation to look at my news feed.
    5. I talk to my friends on IM or twitter rather than FB.

    Good luck, I'll be following this for ideas. It's really hard to step back from something so intertwined in not only your life but other people's lives. I do have friends that have quit or never joined entirely, but it's not always that easy - my job is a social media manager so I will always have to have a Facebook account.
    posted by misskaz at 7:37 AM on August 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

    I took a two step approach when I quit. About two years ago, I posted on my page/wall that I was calling it quits with Facebook and wouldn't be logging in, but to use my contact info as listed to contact me. It was exciting to once again receive personal emails and have a more lengthy dialogue with my friends who would reach out to share the news that they were expecting or had moved cities, rather than simply liking an ultrasound picture and posting just another version of "I'm so happy for you" below it like everyone else.

    I had held on to maintaining an account, because of the ubiquity of the Facebook as a way to contact anyone. With that in mind, I made sure that I received an email notification for any messages, but in the year of not logging in, I received one note from a former colleague who was trying to be in touch and realized that she could've easily found me if she dug a little harder.

    After a year or so, I decided to delete my account and I'm still happy that I did. Like Admiral Haddock mentioned, the work account is the way to go. I'm consulting on an event in India and need to post updates, so I've created a work account that no one knows about and it's perfect.
    posted by icaicaer at 7:40 AM on August 7, 2013

    blocked really difficult people

    At this point, I think I have more people hidden (not blocked, just hidden) than not. Any time someone posts something I don't want to see again, they get hid. I think at this point I'm only seeing status updates for maybe two dozen people out of about 400. So, for instance, when the Zimmerman trial was going, I saw a whole lot of people complaining about others' odious opinions, but no actual odious opinions.

    This might not work with family, especially if your goal is to keep in touch with them, but veryl liberal use of that that 'hide' button made Facebook a genuinely pleasant place for me.
    posted by griphus at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

    I deleted mine for a while a few years ago, and it was great while it lasted. I'm the kind of person who will gladly dive into any available internet hole only to emerge hours later with a glazed look on my face and the house burning down around me, so shutting down the Facebook meant that I spent more time doing real things in real life (although now that I think about it, I was on Metafilter a whole lot more back then). I reactivated the Facebook when I started graduate school because I didn't want to be that jerk at orientation events, and three years later, here I am still on the FB, still feeling ambivalent about it. Some things have changed for the better, though:
    • My friends and I got into the groove of communicating via email, either in huge multi-person email threads that are not unlike a Facebook comment dialogue, or one-on-one. Now the only Facebook messages I get are from older relatives.
    • I got to really like the privacy of being internet invisible, so I seriously cut down my friends list, untagged myself from 90% of the pictures and comments, and cracked down on the security settings. I also changed my default posting privacy settings to a very limited group of close friends, so the number of notifications I get has gone way down (but they mean more when I get them).
    • I got a private Twitter and Instagram, where I can share stupid thoughts and photographs with and feel connected to old friends without even going near the Facebook homepage.
    I guess it all boils down to diverting whatever energy I can away from the blue monster, and seriously locking down whatever ends up there. My net time on Facebook has decreased, and what time I do spend there now is frankly pretty boring. No drama at all.
    posted by oinopaponton at 7:49 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

    If you did not quit, what steps did you take to render it less distracting and negative in your life?

    I full on defriended the few people from high school who are racist/sexist jerkbags.

    And then I hid everyone who doesn't fit at least one of the following criteria:

    1) People I am actually friends with
    2) People who post pictures of their pets almost exclusively
    3) People who say hilarious things
    4) People who post pictures of their babies (but only if they have exceptionally cute babies)
    5) People who are doing legitimately interesting things with their lives

    This makes facebook a place of laughter and puppies, and is therefore a site I enjoy browsing.
    posted by phunniemee at 7:51 AM on August 7, 2013 [16 favorites]

    Really what I found made the biggest difference was just logging myself out in between visits. When Facebook was constantly open on a tab along with Gmail and MeFi and whatever, I would read through everything all the time because it was there. Once I began logging out after each use (originally because I was afraid my account had been hacked) I found that I didn't really miss it. Just yesterday I realized I hadn't logged in for a week. I would say I enjoy it more now when I do log in, since there is a lot of new material to see.

    Also, for what it's worth, I didn't unfriend lots of people or make groups or hide anyone or anything; for me, that would just mean that I'd obsessively check Facebook the same amount even though I'd be reading posts by fewer people.

    (One caveat about all this: my SO does not use Facebook very much; if he did I might feel more of a desire to be on there.)
    posted by mlle valentine at 7:55 AM on August 7, 2013

    It seems to me sometimes like 80% of Facebook drama occurs because someone's not using lists when they post updates. Lists are highly customizable. Friends do not know how you have put them in lists -- they just see whatever that list sees. They can also be placed in more than one list. Yes, it's a pain to set them up at first -- it requires some thought and organization. But once lists are up and running, for feed viewing as well as status updates, I think they help a lot.
    posted by gnomeloaf at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2013

    I have a habit of hiding people's feeds whenever they start to bug me. Inflammatory? Boring? Attention-seeking? Boastful? Misspelled? Just plain annoying? Cool story, Facebro, now it's time for you to hide. It's not worth defriending people over.

    I also deleted the Facebook app on my phone; if you regularly use the mobile app, I strongly recommend doing this. It's just as easy to access Facebook through your browser, of course, but getting rid of that button cuts down on the reflex.
    posted by Metroid Baby at 8:02 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

    I quit for about two years. I recently rejoined, reluctantly, because two loved ones were diagnosed with cancer and it appeared the only way to reliably find out what was going on with them would be through private Facebook pages. I did not maintain a professional page myself, so that's probably the big difference.

    But for what it's worth, the quitting experience of a personal-only FC user:

    I quit altogether, by deleting my account. I did leave it up for a couple of weeks ahead of time with a last comment to people about where I could be found (email, locked Twitter account, phone) for future communications. (For me, Twitter is basically all of the good of Facebook and almost none of the bad. I know that's not true for everyone.)

    Very little changed or was harder for me. The people I really liked and enjoyed talking to, I continued to talk to by email or Twitter. The pages I followed, I could again typically get information from via Twitter, or RSS feeds, or some other way outside of Facebook.

    It was a very good change, better even than I had anticipated. I have no regrets about doing it and would have happily stayed off forever except that the time did come when there was this information about ill friends/family that I could only get via an FB account. Since rejoining to keep tabs on the sick friends I've posted the occasional thought here and there, and commented or liked friends' posts, but I have been very careful about who I friend and so very little of the negative stuff has crept back in.
    posted by Stacey at 8:06 AM on August 7, 2013

    I'd agree with most of the advice in being more active in hiding/blocking people or posts. Also using lists to divide groups makes it easier to limit who sees what.

    I also use Facebook Purity, which gives added controls over facebook (not that facebook likes that, apparently)
    posted by DamPots at 8:11 AM on August 7, 2013

    Response by poster: Thanks for these answers which are chock full of helpful ideas and perspectives.

    To clarify, I already do use the lists and hiding to the fullest extent that seems to make sense. The things that tend to bum me out the most are when people I'm really close to, but who don't know each other, get into it over some topic on my page. I don't want to hide these people obviously, but they occasionally get cantankerous and it stresses me out. The other thing is when two people I know and am close to and have not hid have issues with each other and make a thing of it on FB.

    I really like Admiral Haddock's "like + happy" policy, and the idea of basically never making my own posts on my personal page, which are what give people this platform in the first place. Also the semi-perma-logout with email notifications.
    posted by Miko at 8:17 AM on August 7, 2013

    Oh, seconding Metroid Baby about deleting the FB apps from mobile devices. Even though I'm at my computer at work (and again, on FB professionally) all day, not having the temptation to look at FB other times on my phone is pretty great. Soooo much of my FB surfing was just momentary boredom that passes quickly enough.
    posted by misskaz at 8:28 AM on August 7, 2013

    Are the scuffles among your contacts predictable that you could limit certain things to your "progressives only" list or your "conceptual art lovers" list, etc. to ensure the right audience for each post? I've long since stopped posting anything other than photos of get togethers, but I know one of my fellow left winger friends has limited some posts to exclude her couple of libertarian contacts (with whom, I confess, I have had words on her page). At least that way you can keep A and B unhidden to you, but separate their interactions (at least on your pages).

    One other thing that I'd note about the like + happy approach is that your FB page--even for your personal account--is your brand, for better or for worse. I've left my brand strength diminish with my absence from FB, but when people think of it, I want them to think of good times, good food, smiles, maybe some new music, and photography--the full Admiral Haddock experience. When I start mixing it up with libertarians, or posting rants about bad service, or whatever, I'm going off message. The same goes for arguments hosted on my pages that' I'm not participating in; that's not what I want my presence to be about (irrespective of my personal views in the argument). Others certainly use FB as an extension of their living room, where they can be as unfiltered as they want; all the more power to them, but I'll stick with like + happy.
    posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:39 AM on August 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

    I quit for about a year after a student stalked me. I had a friend change the password so I couldn't just get back on. I had to ask her for he new password and we had a discussion about why I wanted to go back.

    I was surprised how much social info gets passed around on FB. I would constantly hear about events right before they happened or even after. At first I thought people didn't like me, but then I realized how much they relied on FB to make plans. So we just made an effort to email plans or talk more. I was also surprised how little people actually communicate outside of FB -- for example, a friend's engagement might now get discussed except online. It was weird.

    I'm back now and that's fine, but here's what some people I know do:
    They have a professional FB page. This is their name with professional info. The wall stays clean except for what you would want a potential employee to see. This person then went to the personal page, changed her name to a nickname and cleaned house. That way she was able to control who came looking for her later. She also made it a policy to check her professional page as often as necessary and the personal page only once a week. That cut down on time wasting, but also on how much info she could actually absorb.
    posted by mrfuga0 at 8:51 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

    I quit several years ago. I'm old enough to have joined FB when it was brand-new and I was in college, and young enough that most of my peers use it as primary communications. Before I quit, I was completely addicted--I stopped using it because it was making me crazy to feel I was constantly missing something unless I was logged in and looking 24/7.

    The first result was that I felt incredibly relieved not to have to keep up with stuff that turned out just to be mental clutter. The second result was that I felt very out of touch. There were a few disappointing incidents in which I had missed social events that were only advertised on FB, but afterwards I realized I didn't really care to go to them anyways. I "lost" a lot of "friends" this way, but I was surprised to realize I didn't care about them as much as I thought I did. In all, the big surprise was that it was less traumatic than I expected.

    How did you compensate to stay in touch with people you mostly communicated with via Facebook before?

    I made a list of the people I actually wanted to get in touch with and made calender events to remind me to contact them via phone/email. In most cases the quality of our relationships improved.

    One lasting problem is the one mentioned above about branding. Two years after I quit, I created a new page that was strictly professional so that potential employers, etc could find me. Seems to be working out OK.
    posted by epanalepsis at 9:31 AM on August 7, 2013

    After the election last year, it was pretty clear who I wanted to have online interactions with. So I slowly - like over the course of 2 months - participated less and less online than I had prior to November. I also dropped down the status of people so that I saw less of the ones who I simply wanted to move away from. By December 31, I had all but disappeared from FB as an active user.

    Early in January, I sent a note to those I would like to keep contact with. I created a new name with my first and middle name and an anon email. From there I invited those persons who I wanted contact with via FB. As far as the rest, it is by regular email, in person contact or phone.

    Overall, I am very happy with the way it worked out. Those persons who simply cannot live without FB, can still contact me and FB forwards notifications. As far as the constant barrage of "post this on your wall if you believe in XXXYYY" crap, that is a distant memory. As I am not posting with regularity, the general assumption is that I don't use FB. For the obnoxious persons that I never realized were racist bigots, they go blow their dog whistles elsewhere.

    It took a month or two to get used to going from a heavy poster of events to more or less a silent entity. After while, I did not miss it at all. Its really no different than anything in life. You just step things down and move on. Now if feels rather unsettling to post at all and when I do, it is only to communicate with those family members and friends who are simply stuck on FB. But even with them, I find their FB related email and start responding to their FB messages via regular email. Eventually they get the idea.
    posted by lampshade at 9:43 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

    I have cut my friends list down from over 120 to 62. (You can read my ask which had good answers on how to pick who you should delete.) I personally found it too annoying to do the whole lists/half-blocking/status update picking thing. I just truly deleted anyone who annoyed me that I didn't want to connect with.

    I do keep my Facebook for a few reasons: keeping in touch with online-only friends, close family, following news and comedians, managing pages.

    If you do delete your personal page and still want to manage pages - just make a dummy facebook with a new email address and fake name. Then give that profile admin capability and you can delete your own facebook once that is verified.

    If you want to keep it and remove people, you can block them so they can't find you after. You can also update it so people can't find you in search if you don't want new people adding you, I think. I only received one friend request from someone I removed (out of over 60 people) and I didn't accept it - it didn't even have a message with it.

    I vote just trim it down to people you communicate with regularly. It's your space and you can choose who has access to it. Don't get caught up in the hype that being on someone's facebook has soooo much meaning attached to it. True friends will understand your reason for trimming your friends or removing your facebook.

    Another note: My husband doesn't have one. So all his friends from back home add me and send messages or tag me in his photos to me to pass to him - same with his mom. Is your SO going to stay on FB? Would this happen to them or bother them? That's also something to consider. I don't mind my husband's friends/mom messaging me, but it would be easier if he just had a facebook for that purpose.
    posted by Crystalinne at 11:21 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

    i turned on Leechblock when i found myself on FB too often. this limits how involved i can get, especially at work. i then find myself prioritizing the things i need to tend to (groups, messages, things i've been tagged in) without getting caught up in senseless things on my news feed. sure, i'll browse the news feed once in a while but i miss a bunch - and that's perfectly okay.
    posted by cristinacristinacristina at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2013

    I quit cold turkey. I found these things happened.

    I got so many more things done in my online life.
    I lost touch with a bunch of people and it didn't matter at all.
    I enjoy this weird sense of being in a sort of private place most of the time. Every time I'm grocery shopping, or pumping gas, or staying at a hotel or.... (you get the idea) and the establishment is begging me to*like them on Facebook * I feel this huge sense of satisfaction thinking, *Nope. Can't. I'm not part of all that.*
    I enjoy randomly catching up with people by phone , text, or email.
    I use Twitter to follow public figures or institutions I want to keep up with.
    But mostly, there's just this overwhelming sense of peace and quiet.

    I don't know if it matters but I was never a TV watcher either. My time belongs to me and you don't get to try to sell me things or involve me in your drama without my permission.
    posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

    I was a huge facebook user in the early days, and I quit once it became the place of drama and stalking it is today. In some ways being a heavy user made quitting easier, because everyone noticed right away, and so I only had to field (a zillion) questions about why I quit and whether I wouldn't really change my mind for the first few days and then everyone already knew. If you are a low user, you'd probably find people noticing gradually and the questions trickling in for ages.

    I do miss out on some events that are only announced on facebook, but I'm cool with that.

    I no longer manage to keep in touch with cousins, uncles and aunts, who I never was in touch with before Facebook but regularly interacted with on there. To be honest, I don't miss them.

    I do miss a few distant friends who I now have to remember to email or call instead. And that's annoying, but not impossible to handle.

    It's been about four years now and I am fine with it.

    I am actually thinking of rejoining for professional reasons, though - there is a certain community I can only really interact with via facebook and I need to get and stay in touch with them for my job. I'm putting it off as long as I can. I would create a new profile just for that and not connect with family or friends on it.

    The other thing is that I basically replaced my Facebook addiction with a metafilter addiction. If there is a social role and/or leisure in your life that Facebook is filling, you might find yourself filling it with something else pretty fast.
    posted by lollusc at 12:49 PM on August 7, 2013

    I don't particularly care for Facebook, but it is the only way for me to keep up with my loose extended network of friends and colleagues. I'm also a member of two professional groups which actually pass around useful information with enormously high signal-to-noise ratio, so I can't quit.

    But I can get by just browsing it once a day and turning down the volume on people who are posting things I don't care about. It's actually a rather useful tool that way.

    (As an aside, I destroy Facebook's cookies on a regular (daily) basis because I do not care for how they attempt to track me. You can be tracked by your Facebook cookie even if you are logged out of Facebook.)
    posted by RedOrGreen at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2013

    My biggest problem leaving was that so many of my friends and family used fb as their main platform to communicate with me. It was important for me to "transition" into other channels with them.

    To keep receiving family news and not lose touch, I finally got myself a smartphone and joined my family's whatsapp group in which they share news and pictures and videos with each other. I live very far away, but I still get to witness them discussing what's for breakfast on a Sunday morning, or planning who will pick up whom after school and after work, etc. They also joke a lot and I feel like a part of it.

    I haven't deleted my account permanently, but I have deactivated my profile long enough for some people - the important ones, it turns out - to wonder why and ask me about it. Those I told I am no longer available via fb, but that I would love to talk on the phone/ over skype/ per e-mail/ in real life by going to visit them. I am trying to be very consistent with e-mails and write the long, frequent messages I used to send at the beginning of the internet. Not everyone writes back at the same speed or length but I have not been disappointed. No one important has "disappeared" from my life.

    Every now and then - every month or so - I log in to look up friends, get a picture of what people have been up to - and then I deactivate my profile again. So it's not a big part of my life anymore, and it feels less "cluttered" now that I don't find out about every single event each one of my 400+ contacts is attending in the next 7 days, I also don't feel like I am missing out on something by not going to those. And since I moved into a house full of students, my local friends are pretty active, and I call or e-mail people whenever I want to do something and would like company, there is always enough fun stuff to do.

    Oh and I've started using Twitter for gossipy news. Last year I started reading Metafilter regularly and joined it this one, and I gather professional contacts in my Academia.edu and LinkedIn profiles.

    I think Facebook serves too many functions at once, and none of them very well. I've found it's much more satisfying to disaggregate into different, specialized social networks and communication services.
    posted by ipsative at 4:32 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Pardon the double but... I just wanted to say:

    One of the defining moments for me was a political "discussion" I had in facebook at a time I had already started reading Metafilter. After an acquaintance posted a controversial picture (advertising a photography studio using a stylized pic of a topless woman), a discussion ensued in which I participated, but was I completely turned off by the level of discourse. These were supposedly educated people, with ignorant opinions about exploitation of sexuality in advertisement, and that made me want to slam them on the head through the screen. I had been reading MeFi regularly by then, and at that point facebook lost any appeal it may have had as a platform to discuss anything with acquaintances and friends of friends.

    I just couldn't be bothered to care anymore. Still can't.
    posted by ipsative at 4:43 PM on August 7, 2013

    I deactivated my account as a reflexive reaction when I was dumped a couple of years ago (we had a lot of mutual friends and I knew it would be too hard to deal with seeing 'changed relationship status' updates, etc.)

    Prior to that, I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with Facebook - steps to cut back never really addressed the fundamental issue of "hey I wonder what these people are doing"/"oh now I feel like shit" cycle.

    I'm so grateful I've left, and would echo everything said above by WalkerWestridge about how freeing it is.

    I actually created a new account when I started graduate school, thinking I'd need it to meet people. False. I started my old patterns of overly frequent checking, leading to feelings of unworthiness. I deactivated that second account within a couple weeks. I have a great network of peers and mentors without it.

    I'm in a communication field and focus my personal energies on Twitter, as some have described above. I'd be willing to create a professional Facebook page if it seemed necessary but at this time, I don't feel a need. The marginal benefits of connecting with someone on FB are far outweighed by the costs to my time, my attention, and my emotional serenity!
    posted by pants at 9:20 PM on August 7, 2013

    I've never posted on Facebook more than once or twice a year, and I virtually never "comment" or "like" anything, but I used to log on a few times a day to idly read the "news". I didn't experience any Facebook drama, and it was never a means of communication for me, but when one day I caught my fingers typing "facebook.com" without really meaning to I decided it was time for a break. I disabled my account for 4 months. Not even one single person noticed, which tells you how much I was on Facebook to begin with... but it was a total non-issue. I guess I missed some party invites but anybody who really wanted to talk to me could easily email, call or text me.

    The break completely cured me of my idle habit of popping over to Facebook when my work got difficult or boring, or when my fingers lacked something to do. I felt I wasted less time and didn't miss it at all. I eventually reactivated my account so that I could keep current with some of my younger cousins, since they don't communicate any other way. I often forget about it for a few days at a time, and that feels great.
    posted by Cygnet at 8:20 AM on August 8, 2013

    It looks like I deleted my account back in 2010. I think I ultimately felt the service was a big waste of time. I still have friends and see people. I think if it was the only way my friends and family communicated it'd be different. I have a few friends who I need to make an extra effort to keep in touch with. That's not so bad.
    posted by chunking express at 6:22 PM on August 14, 2013

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