How do I keep in touch after leaving Facebook?
November 18, 2016 2:51 PM   Subscribe

I am in the process of deleting my Facebook account. How do I stay in touch with my friends at scale?

While I'm not going to miss the drama, the terrible ads, and the feeling that my presence is tacit support for a company that failed to rein in its very real fake news problem during a very close election that may destroy my country as I know it, I will miss some of my closer friends and their pictures of their cats/dogs/kids.

Is there such a thing that can be used to keep in touch at scale that isn't as terrible? I'll take alternative social media platforms (aside from Twitter and Instagram), homebrewed solutions—whatever the hivemind can think of.
posted by snortasprocket to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
The telephone worked well for me for a long time. I also wrote letters and sent photographs.
posted by tiburon at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

I didn't when I quit FB. I tried to gather email addresses before quitting, and I set up my own website, but it didn't work. That's ultimately why I rejoined. I don't think there's a real FB equivalent. There are smaller social networks (Ello, is it called?), but no one uses them, so they're pretty useless.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

One thing you might consider is keeping your account active but unfollowing every single person on your friends list and hiding the ticker. This is what I have done and it's perfect. I have some private groups I wanted to continue to participate in but wanted to see no drama, no election talk, etc. So now when I log in, I see absolutely nothing in my news feed, but I still have an active account in case a friend wants to contact me or I want to click on someone's profile to see what they're up to. It's been an amazingly great solution for me.
posted by something something at 2:57 PM on November 18, 2016 [61 favorites]

Yeah, the issue is that whatever it is, your friends have to also be using it- the time to change everyone to a more ethical network was about 10 years ago.

That said I communicate with my family and friends via text message and Viber.
posted by freethefeet at 3:00 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

A group of friends I know who live all scattered across the west coast have a slack server they share. It was a natural replacement for the IRC server they used to hang out on in college. They have the general chat for cat and baby pictures and planning get togethers and like twenty side channels for specific games that they play and niche interests between a subset of them.

They're all big nerds of a similar age group though; I have no idea if slack would work as a social thing among a more mixed group. There really isn't a FB replacement; you have to be That Guy to get anybody to do a new thing with you. But slack does seem really quite seamless and simple these days, it just wouldn't be an automatic searchable archive of stuff like pictures and special moments. You have to pay for that.
posted by Mizu at 3:01 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Twitter is another option. (Not necessarily a great option.)

I use email myself, but I'm old-school.
posted by StrawberryPie at 3:04 PM on November 18, 2016

Text, email, phonecalls.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:06 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

My friends and I have started using WhatsApp groups to share pics of our kids/dogs/whatever and random thoughts about the world or what we're doing, once a week or so there will be a back and forth convo between two or three of us at a time (we're spread out over various countries and time zones, so it's tricky). It functions kind of in the same way as a Facebook wall/feed used to for us - there's an implied: "hey, here's a thing I want to share, but no obligation to respond or anything." You can turn off notifications for the app too, so you can just open it when you feel like checking in.

It's made our casual interactions way more personal and human-connection-focused rather than a lot of the performative posting you see on FB walls. It's also a limited group, so you're not going to have someone's random second cousin popping into the thread.
posted by melissasaurus at 3:25 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

There is nothing better than Block on Facebook. It keeps people as your "friend", but you don't have to see anything they post and you can block individual sites that others share. It takes work at first, but it definitely cleans up the timeline.

I'm with you and have really cut back what I post. I just want to keep up with a few friends and relatives since we don't all live in the same area.

I have really cut back how many people I follow on Twitter. I also use the Mute feature there.

Good luck!
posted by jwt0001 at 3:29 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there's no replacement at scale, unless you count Instagram (which is FB owned but avoids the fake news and a good deal of the drama, at least in my experience). I quit FB a couple years ago and while I don't miss FB itself, there are many people I haven't heard from since.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 3:48 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think the answer depends on what your goal is.

If it's to get rid of all the noise and drama, choose the people who are actually important to you and connect in a specific and meaningful way either offline or on non-social media channels like email, text, chat, etc.

If it's to boycott Facebook in particular as a corporation that does bad things in the world, IDK, go to Twitter or Ello or Tumblr or something, probably? Despite popular Metafilter opinion, there's nothing innately wrong about social media in general and no reason you can't do it on your own terms on a platform that works for you.

If it's to avoid constant exposure to advertising, I hear there are some nice cabins in remote rural areas.

There are also a great many goals that people have with social media that can actually be accomplished just as easily without actually deleting your Facebook account. You could purge your list of friends down to people you actually want to hear from. You could check in once every two weeks. You could decide to only use it as a tool to coordinate in-person social events. I have a lot of friends who are required to use social media for personal brand or business reasons, and many of them *only* use it for that and nothing else. It's also fully possible to suspend your account to take a break, or to get rid of all notifications so that you're only seeing Facebook while you're actually on Facebook, or to log out of the "chat" function so that people can't use it as an immediate way to get in touch with you. This isn't to say that you *should* stay on Facebook, but again, many goals can be accomplished simply by deciding to use the platform in a specific way.
posted by Sara C. at 3:48 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I quit Facebook a couple years ago, and overall my life is much better for it. I keep in touch with email and phone. So "email and phone" is the short answer to your question.

That said, you *do* give up some things when quitting Facebook. Some people you simply won't hear from at all after you quit (which is OK). The more unfortunate consequences are missing out on local communities or groups that are organized on Facebook, and being unable to make mass communications that seem too frivolous for email (e.g. "Does anyone have a miter saw I could borrow?")

These are actual downsides, but quitting has still been worth it overall for me.
posted by splitpeasoup at 3:50 PM on November 18, 2016

Random postcards and text messages do it for me
posted by lakersfan1222 at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2016

It's very tough. That's why so many people stay on FB. I think that the closest is Instagram in that you can see a slice of people's lives. Of course, FB bought Instagram, so it depends on how strongly you feel about sticking it to FB. I know that I'm far less connected to friends who aren't on FB. I make an effort to text and email them, but it's not the same kind of connected that I can get on FB. It's a bummer.
posted by quince at 4:08 PM on November 18, 2016

Keep Facebook Messenger app on your phone. Never open the Facebook app itself. Unfortunately people can't be bothered to respond to email/text as much.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:35 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

text and emails. people who could not be bothered to reply to those i quickly found weren't really my friends, as they didn't care too much what was going on in my life.

sure i'd say hi and be cordial, if i ran into any of them in real life...but if it's too much work for you to text me occasionally, well...i'm good, thanks
posted by zdravo at 5:41 PM on November 18, 2016

I'm experimenting with Tiny Letter.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:45 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Facebook is a fantastic tool when used correctly. You can connect with friends old and new, you can keep up to date with the happenings of your community, you can use it to promote yourself, the list goes on. Having said that, Facebook is also a pretty horrifying catalyst that is the reason so many young people suffer from mental health issues. If you want to feel bad about your life, like you've not achieved as much as you think you should have, then you just need to scroll for a few seconds and you'll instantly find that person you haven't spoken to since college who is now happily married with a glamorous job and gorgeous 6 bedroom house. It's a fascinating breeding ground for negativity.

Honestly, Facebook is a pile of ****. Unfortunately, it is part of the world we now live in. Not using it could actually be detrimental. Sure, we could all invest energy in the lost art of letters and post cards, but that's not realistic. I think deleting your Facebook and wiping yourself off social media is a bit over the top. You should stay on it, but use it sparingly, and try not to pay attention to anyone else posting on there accept the select people you care about.
posted by Lewnatic at 6:39 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Texting is a good option. Not as "intrusive" feeling as a phone call feels these days, but still gets you directly in touch. Group text is also a good way to stay in the loop with friends.

The only social networks that are going to have the pictures and life events will be Instagram and Twitter, basically. You need a platform where your friends are choosing to put their stuff out there, and those are basically it. Snapchat is another option, although it's confusing and weird at first (in my opinion). Everything disappears in 24 hours, so you have to check it everyday.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:08 PM on November 18, 2016

Before Facebook, people set up their own website/blogs/emailing lists. A former co-worker set up a family website and password-protected it to friends/family. It's no big deal, just another bookmark for your friends to save. A shared mailing list isn't even as much work as a blog.

Diaspora is the most explicitly anti-Facebook social site out there. If you find it to be better than FB, that's something worth telling your friends about.
posted by zaixfeep at 9:21 PM on November 18, 2016

I thought snapchat was for teenagers and resisted joining until just a couple weeks ago. I live abroad and found that my close friends who never call or email and rarely use facebook were sending almost daily snaps, especially friends with kids. You can choose who to send it to so it's different than facebook and the silly filters actually are pretty fun.
posted by saul wright at 10:38 PM on November 18, 2016

Just try it for a month or so. Believe me, you'll like it.
posted by xammerboy at 12:55 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I hate F*******k more than you do but I need to keep an account or there would be people I never "see" and links I would not be able to follow. What I do is use a fake name. I know I'm not supposed to but they've never stopped me (don't tell them!). In addition I use one of the several browser plugins that gets rid of the "features" I don't want.

This doesn't protest, but as someone above said, the time to do that has long passed. Now is the time to subvert.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:49 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have spent the last week blocking every news source that I see on FB. The last couple of days my FB wall has been mostly people posting pictures of their kids and puppies. It's much better that way.
posted by COD at 6:39 AM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had about 250 friends when I was on Facebook, and when I quit I found out that I actually had about 5 friends. That's okay though, they're good friends. I found that I'd rather have 5 good friends than 250 Facebook friends.

My 5 good friends and I stay in touch by email, text, phone, and actually seeing each other. I keep a little list in my weekly planner of all of their names (plus my folks, my sister, sister-in-law, and niece) and try to touch base with all of them at least once a week....whether it's just a funny face snapchat or an in-person visit.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

If the feed is traumatizing to you (as it is to me), but you would like to keep connected to people on Facebook specifically, you may not already know that you can go to on your browser to access only the chat function of facebook. I am currently using this, while using a FireFox extension called LeechBlock to block my access to and twitter.
posted by softlord at 9:44 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just popping in to say that since I posted this, I have not deleted my account, but have uninstalled it from my phone and tablet and only log in using a private browser, once a week just to poke my head in. It's worked pretty well for me.

I liked the idea of subverting instead of protesting, but the idea of actually starting a new account to do that ... well, I'll keep my options open, I guess.

Thanks to everyone who responded.
posted by snortasprocket at 4:47 PM on January 2, 2017

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