Facebook Boyfriend

I was an active and avid Facebook user for a very long time. I got an account with a .edu address before it was open to the rest of the public. I would check but I deactivated my account last September. And today I requested it be deleted. In 14 days it will be gone (assuming we believe Facebook ever truly deletes anything).

Merlin and John had an interesting exchange about Facebook at the end of episode 75 of Reconcilable Differences about the Facebook Boyfriend.

Audio Clip

Merlin: After Friendster and MySpace, Facebook came along and it’s so pretty and freshly scrubbed and it was like the boyfriend with the good job who brought flowers.

John: And dressed nice and combed his hair.

Merlin: Believed in event dining and having friends over and asking how your day went. And you had a pretty good boyfriend in Facebook and then at some point it became less

John: He started doing meth.

Merlin: Hang on. Hang on. Now we’re in a relationship. He still picks up his socks. But maybe he doesn’t always put the seat down. And then you get two years into it and you’re suddenly realizing things are stable? It feels stable. It feels like things are mostly ok. I have a lot of friends that are getting divorced and that’s really sad. But this is OK right? This is good… right?

Merlin: And now you’re 10 years into it and you’re still going, This is good, right? Because it’s familiar. But yeah. Maybe he’s doing meth and you haven’t figured it out yet.

Merlin: But would you walk into Facebook today as a new experience? Would you walk into that ecosystem today knowing the risks, benefits, ups, downs and what you’re actually going to put on the line?

Merlin: It really is going to be an ex-boyfriend in 6 months. He’s mean to other people but he’s nice to me.

This mirrors my experience with the service. It was a breath of fresh air from Myspace. Myspace was the wild west of media. It was Geocities with the same glitz and glam gifs. I used to leave comments with a 1000px wide transparent gif embedded in it for the spam sites. It would completely break the site of the spammers.

Facebook was uniform. It was fresh and clean and legible. It was the good boyfriend. It was a place to hang out and meet other people in college. There were no companies on it. No parents. No other people outside of schools. I still think the defining moment is when it opened up to companies and advertising.

Though that may be the least of it given where Facebook has gone since. Between the data leaks, privacy destroying bugs and general negligence the trade offs are too great.

I turned off my account last year because I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. It was so desperate to show me content, it would pull things from people I never knew and don’t care about.

The sister of your old co-worker’s boss had a baby.

Cool.

A friend posted in a group you aren’t interested in.

Neat.

Long ago Facebook stopped being about people and started being about sharing (mis)information.

I want to see how my friends and family are doing. Where did you go? What did you eat? What’s going in in your life?

Posting the same news stories repeatedly with a comment isn’t the same.

The few people I kept up with on the site were fun. But the rest of the site is a mess and I didn’t enjoy being there. I was in a couple of groups. So I used the Facebook Groups app.

Until they killed it.

It was time to make a decision. Was Facebook worth it? And that answer was no.

I deactivated my account on September 27, 2017. I wanted to make sure nothing broke when I did. I used the “login with Facebook” for a few things and wanted to make sure they didn’t fail.

They didn’t.

I also wanted to see if I could stop using the site. Did I miss anyone? Did anyone miss me?

Maybe? But just this last weekend one of sister-in-laws asked if I had seen something on Facebook she posted.

Nope.

I decided it was time to delete my account entirely after the latest in a long line of data breaches.

Facebook is gone from my life.