People who were college students in the early or mid 00s probably remember signing up for Facebook back when you could use the site to find people who were going to be in the same classes as you. I signed up around this time, which means I’ve been on Facebook for close to fifteen years.
In the olden days, Facebook was a convenient and fun way to connect with people at your university. But then, once there were enough people on the site, Mark Zuckerberg began farming us all for data and advertising revenue. Famously, this data is now being used to manipulate public opinion and win presidential elections.
Facebook users have also been subject to data mining from other companies. If you log into a site using Facebook to look at your quiz results, or to see your word cloud, or for any other reason, that site now has all your Facebook data. They could use it to steal your identity, manipulate your opinions, sell you something, target you for harassment, frame you for a crime, or probably several other purposes I haven’t thought of.
Facebook has ways of tracking people who aren’t on the site at all, so I don’t expect to entirely escape its grasp. However, I do want to at least have alternative ways of connecting with my out-of-state friends, and of connecting with new people too. It’s shockingly hard to imagine how to do this if you’ve been on Facebook for fifteen years and have used it extensively to organize your social life since college.
But really, getting off Facebook is just a matter of getting all your friends’ contact info into a physical address book, downloading all your Facebook data (at the very least Facebook will do that for you), and deleting your account.
Keeping up with friends without Facebook may be more of a challenge. I plan to blog and write letters and Christmas cards. I should have plenty of time to do this, since I won’t be spending all my time staring at my phone, refreshing Facebook.