And remember that Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook. So Instagram comes with all the psychological weapons to addict you, and WhatsApp increasingly has the convenient privacy invasions that let them use the records of who you’re calling, when, and how long you talk, to profile you for any possible reason they want.
Quit! I beg of you.
Quitting isn’t easy
Quitting isn’t easy. You need to create alternative systems to replace what Facebook does.
You need to create alternative systems to replace what Facebook does.
Without Facebook, socializing will take more effort. Your circle of friends will be smaller, but deeper. You’ll have to reach out.
Organizing events will get less convenient. You’ll have to think about your guest list. You’ll have to invite people by email or phone or text. In other words, personally.
Quitting has benefits
But your life will get better. You’ll start reading more than 300 words at a time. You might even read things all the way to the end. And learn more deeply from them.
You’ll start thinking your own thoughts, not just whatever clickbait, lies, and poorly-written dreck Facebook throws in front of you.
Which means you’ll also have to seek out real news, explicitly and thoughtfully.
In short, you’ll have to stop being a passive consumer of relationships and information.
Instead, you’ll be an active creator of relationships, knowledge, and, yes, your own self. Here are 6 steps that can help you get back there.
Step 1: Lurk. Only Lurk.
First, you must choose who you really value. This is hard. Facebook has made us lazy; we keep in touch with whomever the algorithm happens to show us. But those aren’t necessarily the friends who will make your life the richest.
Part of Facebook’s cognitive manipulation is that you feel like you’re keeping in touch. You aren’t. You’re just seeing pictures and names and imagining keeping in touch. Friendship is a two-way activity that happens in the moment. Emotions that creates strong bonds, like empathy, only happen face-to-face.
So stop interacting on Facebook, and start lurking. Set aside ten minutes and read your timeline, but read it asking the questions, “What parts of this are worth keeping in my life?” Pay particular attention to the people, the sources of news, the sources of entertainment, and the sources of education.
Stay as objective and non-judgemental for this part as you can.
Step 2: Make a List
Next, grab a piece of paper and title it, “What to keep!” Keep monitoring Facebook for a few days. Write down the names of everyone you’d like to keep in touch with. Also write down the names of publications and organizations that you want to continue engaging with.
This is hard. Facebook gives us the happy illusion that we can be good friends with a thousand people. We can’t. It gives us the illusion that we’re well-read and educated on topics we care about. We aren’t, necessarily. What actually crosses our timeline is what Facebook thinks we’ll click on, not what will actually improve our lives.
You’ll have to make real choices. That’s a good thing. It means you’re being deliberate about who you want in your life. About which news sources your trust. About what you want to learn, and from whom. About the kind of entertainment you’ll enjoy. In short, you’re being deliberate about who you want to be in the world, rather than leaving it up to “the algorithm.”