*[I first stopped logging into my Facebook account on November 2015. The day after Christmas 2018, I logged back in for the first time in three years to download my profile info and photos so I could delete the account permanently. Below is the Note I wrote (yes, FB still uses the Notes feature – who knew?) to my FB friends in an attempt to answer their inevitable questions.
Yes, the format I use blatantly rips off Rob Bricken’s “Spoiler FAQ” for io9. Hey, I know my friends, all right?]
Don’t Mind Me, I’m just Getting My Stuff
ME: So… hey.
YOU: Hey. What the–? HOLY CRAP, DUDE – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!
Around. Not on Facebook, but around.
Damn, I thought you were dead!
No, I mean I really thought you were dead.
Yeah, I know.
No, I’m trying to tell you that I honestly thought you’d shuffl’d off this mortal—
I know! Trust me, I’ve run into enough folks this year to know that people thought I was actually dead. A guy neglects his FB for three years and everyone thinks he got Raptured.
Wow, has it really been three years?
Since November 2015.
Whoa… so what have you been up to?
The usual: acting, directing, writing – mostly on my blog, but script work, too. I’ve also been published in the East Bay Express. I’ve done lots of freelance writing work, which makes me feel better about saying “writer” is my profession. I’ve seen a billion shows (getting in for free really increases one’s theatre patronage).
Oh, I did a nude photoshoot earlier this year. Plus, I did my first show at the Berkeley Rep! Also, I’ve taken the first steps to starting my own business.
…….you still have a blog? Does anyone read it?
Funny how that’s the detail you focused on, but – yeah, apparently people do read it, given what’s happened in the past year.
What do you mean?
Well, I’m always shocked to find out anyone reads my blog, given the low stat numbers. Hell, the reason my opinions are so frank is because I think no one is reading it. But in the past year, I’ve had the director of a Shotgun show come at me because I said her show was racist (it was – I now have an e-mail thread saved where she Whitesplained to me that her show couldn’t be racist because she didn’t think it was racist); I had the artistic director of an East Bay company complain about a positive (yes, positive) review I wrote about one of their shows, leading said AD to vent that frustration on a beloved colleague of mine; and I’ve been approached by several companies and venues (including The EXIT) about being added to their press list.
Well, I’m no Lily Janiak or one of the Hurwitts. Thankfully, I’m not George Heymont. No one should live with the curse of being George Heymont.
Ha-ha-ha! ……seriously, fuck George Heymont.
Listen, no one’s going to argue the fact that George Heymont is a sentient carbuncle, but let’s get back to you: how did you stay away so long?
In a way, it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought. I already had this thing where I’d go on two-month FB sabbaticals twice a year (maybe Feb-Mar, then Sept-Oct), and I’d been doing that since about 2010 or ‘11. In Nov. 2015, I had a DM chat with someone that really pissed me off – I mean, really pissed me off – and I told myself that I could either go to where this guy works and break his jaw or just take a break from FB. As you can tell, that break lasted more than the usual two months.
I guess that’s understandable. But you’re back for good now, right?
Quite the contrary – I’m here to put my profile out of its misery like a rabid dog from a once-popular children’s book.
Can you phrase that in a way that alludes to Shakespeare?
I come not to praise Facebook, but to bury it.
Niiiiice. But why?
Several reasons, actually. First off, you’ve probably read an article or two about how FB use messes with your mind. Well, for me, that’s not just article material. The reason I’d take those regular sabbaticals was because I could sense a difference in myself when I was on FB… and I didn’t like it. Not one bit. These three years I’ve been away have done wonders for my mental health.
Then why log back in at all?
Because even though I wasn’t actively part of FB, they were still using my name and info the way they use everyone else’s. After the numerous hacks, Russian meddling, Cambridge Analytica, etc. (and those just the ones I can recall off-hand), I felt hypocritical saying to myself “Thank God, I’m not on FB anymore” when FB is still selling my info to advertisers as if I were still there.
Then why didn’t you kill off your account earlier?
Because I thought of my logging into FB the way an addict would regard an “innocent” glass of champagne. Instead – like the title of this post suggests – I’m treating it like a roommate or ex-spouse picking up all their stuff from a shared residence. It’s my way of finally tearing off the band-aid.
I guess that makes sense.
Waitaminute – why write this note at all? Why not just take five minutes to delete your account without anyone knowing? Y’know, the digital version of an “Irish Good-bye”?
As they say in Hail, Caesar!: “Would that it were so simple.” (I recently re-watched that film – it’s actually brilliant!) Like the digital drug-dealer he is, Zuckerberg doesn’t want his addicts to leave once he knows they’re hooked. That’s why whenever you try, the algorithm is programmed to do anything and everything to make you regret it.
Y’see, deleting Facebook isn’t as simple as pressing “Delete My Account,” especially not if you want to keep all your info for yourself – there’s a whole damn process to it. It actually takes a couple of days sometimes. I’ve spent the last few days researching how to properly and permanently delete my FB.
Before I do that, I want to collect all my photos, posts, and contacts. That’s gonna take a little while.
Y’know how certain folks are gonna react to this, right? Lots of opinionated “bleach buddies” are gonna say you’re like that asshole in the CollegeHumor sketch and that you’re just begging for attention.
Oh yes, I’m well aware of that CollegeHumor sketch and the sort of mind that would create it.
What I find funny about people [who make criticisms] like that is that despite my revelation about my mental well-being, their complaining is actually their attempt to make my life all about them. If the “bleach buddies” honestly have nothing better to do than to talk about me, I won’t stop them. Hell, my not being around here anymore will just make it easier. They’ve certainly made it easier for me to cut ties.
Wow… you’re serious about this aren’t you?
Let me put it this way: a year after I stopped using FB, I used to joke that “You couldn’t pay me enough to get back on it.” Sometime later, I started applying for jobs that happened to include social media work – that’s when I began to think of how much someone actually could pay me to get back on. Then… a few weeks ago I got an offer for a very well-paying freelance job that would have required being on FB.
I turned it down. I’m currently strapped for cash, but I knowingly turned down good money because it would have required me to be here every day. This site is poison and I don’t need poison in my system.
So… you’re not gonna miss any of us?
Of course I will! Well, most of you, anyway.
There’s a reason my FB Friend count never exceeded 250 (except for today, when I answered three years’ worth of requests): every person I’m connected to on here was someone I’ve met personally (except for maybe five people) and wanted to maintain contact with. If there’s been a single downside to my not being on FB, it’s been missing out on all the parties and shows and weddings and babies and graduations and new jobs and all the other stuff I’d probably already know about. Those of you whom I adore are wonderful folks and I’d love to stay connected. Just not here.
The ones I don’t want to keep up with, I won’t miss when I’m outta here. I can do without their toxic personalities.
If I’m someone you actually like, how do I connect with you?
DM me your info and I’ll send you my new e-mail (not the old Comcast one).
But how do I know if I’m someone you like or don’t?
I’m not shallow enough to make connecting with me into a popularity contest. Hell, I’m nowhere near important enough to try something like that. I’ll just be expunging the toxic folks on my own time. The majority of people on here are folks with whom I’d love to stay in contact.
And if I see you in public?
Well, I do yearn for constant human contact… Tell ya what: if I don’t walk away in disgust, we’re good.
I’ll make a note of that. So, are you gonna cancel all of your social media accounts?
Well, it’s not like I have that many. I haven’t logged into my Twitter since August 2016, and I stopped using my Tumblr a few months later. It’s entirely possible I could kill them off at any time. I’ve never had an Instagram (Flickr for Life!), Snapchat, Bumble, Tinder, Google+, or… whatever new thing the kids are into these days.
*[NOTE: Days after I posted this Note, I also closed my Amazon account.]
Be honest: do you think I should kill my FB account?
Do I think so? Listen, everyone makes their own decisions. I got off FB because I couldn’t stand people I was seeing regularly, both in person and on the site. I thank every god in the sky that I got off before 2016, when the racism, misogyny, and election-meddling truly went off the rails.
Having said that, I know how addictive and ubiquitous FB is (see my job offer anecdote above), so I understand the need to stay connected personally and professionally. I will absolutely not think less of anyone I care about for staying. I hope you feel the same about me for leaving.
Well, um… what if… what if someone did want to permanently kill their accounts, but was afraid of losing all they’d accumulated over the years? Asking for a friend…
I’d tell your friend “Thank God for Wired magazine!” The have this great article about how to both kill off your accounts completely and save your entire account info before you do.
Out of curiosity, what was your favorite song this year?
It’s a toss-up between Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, Kanye West’s “Lift Yourself”, and Anderson.Paak & Kendrick Lamar’s “Tints”.
Best and Worst Movies you saw this year?
Best: If Beale Street could Talk.
Worst: The Hate U Give (aka: “Steve Bannon’s idea of what BLM is”).
What if I have a question for you that you didn’t answer in this faux-FAQ which you obviously ripped off from Rob Bricken on io9?
Excuse me, the word is “homage”. And you can feel free to ask me something in the comments below or in a DM. I’ll be doing that as I download and clear out over 10 years’ worth of FB material over the next day or so.
Any parting words?
If I don’t see you after this, I hope you have a great life – both on-line and IRL.
Say it like Edward Norton in The 25th Hour. Yeah, I know the actual quote is older than that film – say it anyway!
“Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.” Peace.