I got a push notification on my phone a couple of weeks ago from Facebook, politely informing me that I hadn’t updated my status in a month and encouraging me to let my friends know what I’ve been up to. I had never received a message like that before, so clearly I had been good about updating enough or the social media giant was employing a new tactic to get people active again.
While the notification caught me off guard, it did confirm something I’d been feeling all along: I’m using the service less frequently. Facebook is very sneaky at getting attention and prompting people to open the app through various notifications, alerts, and badges, and it’s largely worked (for me, too). But time and time again, I’d open it up and begin scrolling through the newsfeed only to find low-level arguments about Trump and #fakenews, aspirational quotes, beach vacation photos, selfies, and more. I don’t begrudge anyone from posting these things, but I realized I wasn’t getting much value for my time. It was like consuming empty calories.
The fact is, it seems everyone is busy these days and time is tight. I can open Twitter to get the latest news (a piece on why Twitter is so much better than Facebook would be long and detailed, so I’ll save it for another day), Nuzzel, my RSS app-of-choice Reeder, or any of the subscriptions I have to news organizations like the New York Times or Washington Post. If I really feel like a dip in the social media pool, Instagram is a lightweight, simple, and fun way to see what people are up to.
I don’t know if I’m experiencing this in isolation, or if others are reaching the same conclusion. I have friends who have sworn-off Facebook in an act of defiance, angry about its invasion of privacy or because of some deep dislike of Mark Zuckerberg. I’m not in either camp; I just slowly began seeing less value to the point where I’ve stopped using Facebook and hardly even noticed.
I’ve decided to delete the app from my phone, as I can get whatever I need, if I need anything, through the mobile web (plus, Facebook fans, the official Facebook app is a major drain on your phone’s battery). I’ll continue to use the Messenger app, though. I’m also not sure yet if I’ll entirely deactivate my account, which seems like a giant leap into the abyss, as if I’m removing my name from the world’s phonebook. But for the time being, I’m happy without it. And plus, nobody needs empty calories.