What Was Your Facebook Breaking Point?

Photo: Jack Taylor, Getty Images

Facebook turned 15 earlier this week, and you’ll have to excuse me for not rushing to the bakery and ordering a celebratory cake. It feels like most people don’t want to be on speaking terms with Facebook, even though many still check the site regularly for a quick fix of cute animal pictures, a chance to shit-post at people with terrible viewpoints they don’t agree with, and a way to catch up on all the fun your friends are having without you.

What was once the greatest social network since MySpace... is still the greatest social network since MySpace, but Facebook’s Galactus-like hunger for every data point in your life — and the lengths it will go to get them — seems to turn off its longtime users. At least, that’s the impression I got when I asked my Lifehacker colleagues to reminisce about the social network before we collectively blow out some candles:

Facebook is the first thing I’ve quit and felt really good about. Prior to this, I’d quit the field hockey team, several jobs, a band, carbs — and about all of these, I felt at least a twinge of remorse. Not so, Facebook! I can’t believe the devil’s network has existed for 15 years.

I know people who have spent a minimum of five of those 15 curating their existences for an audience of people they should have stayed out of touch with. Think of all the epic poems those people have not written!

- MELISSA KIRSCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

All Facebook has done for me is given my uncles and this one guy from college a platform on which to argue with me about capitalism. It’s also my one-stop shop for daily reminders of how I used to be married and my dog used to be alive, and a way for me to read mean comments about myself should regular comments sections not be enough.

I guess the only reason I’m still on it is because it’s the only social media my mostly offline boyfriend uses (and I’m his only source of memes!), and it’s a good way to find out about shows in town. If not for Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have known about the Eric Bachmann show I went to last night. But I’m sure there are mailing lists for that kind of thing.

- Claire Lower, Food & Beverage Editor

My facebook experience went from something I was excited to have when I got into college to something I never use. In-between, it was great when I lived in Milwaukee, and was part of a private mums group called Bayview Broads — it provided a community of 200 mums who had each others backs and gave great advice. But it also was a platform for family members, lacking proper posting etiquette, to add their two cents to my page.

It is a wormhole of people-past, full of pictures that don’t matter that I don’t need to see. It’s a peeping tom’s playground, which ultimately is why I quit. Now, I can’t even remember the password, which is fine with me. It is home to the only photos of my 20's, which i’d like to hold on to.

- Heather Hass, Creative Producer

In the past fifteen years, Facebook killed, directly or indirectly, nearly every other method of online communication I used to use. Opening Facebook is more convenient than visiting a bunch of Yahoo Groups or web forums or a bunch of different news websites. It replaced listservs and email announcement lists because spam has made our email inboxes unbearable.

It thrives because we can get information on Facebook that 15 years ago was only available via phone calls. (Nobody likes phone calls except the generations that grew up with them being necessary.) We pay the price in data and privacy, but we pay it as a society, not individually. I could quit Facebook and lose touch with people, but Facebook will still have all my data.

I love seeing all the baby pictures. I hate that if I post any, Facebook recognises my children’s faces and asks me who they are.

- Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor

I was always ambivalent about Facebook and only ever created one because some friends I met at Space Camp wanted to keep in touch. I’ve used it on and off over the years, but it never affected my relationships with friends or family in a notable way. I pretty much only used it to self-promote my projects. Even then, I feel I haven’t escaped the monumental ways in which Facebook reshaped society, and my personal data most definitely hasn’t escaped Facebook’s clutches.

There was a time when the idea of having my life documented forever seemed appealing. But now my tweets are set to auto-delete, I haven’t posted to Facebook in almost 6 months (I only keep it around because I have to for random work stuff), and I only use Instagram stories. I’m over this whole social media thing.

- Abu Zafar, Video Producer

For a while there, Facebook made it real easy to choose what events and parties to go to, based on who else was going. Which is a valid approach because that’s what parties are for. Now I visit Facebook once a week and get bombarded with “notifications” that people I barely know have posted something. The site does a very good job convincing me to stay away.

- Nick Douglas, Staff Writer

Facebook has been innocuous for me in the past several years, since most of my social media use is on Instagram and Twitter. These days, it can be a pleasant way to see what people I otherwise don’t stay in touch with are up to, and otherwise I barely use it.

But my strongest emotional memory of Facebook is how crazy it made me in the first couple of years of college, looking at photos from parties or trips I hadn’t been a part of, and convinced everyone was constantly having a better time than me. Even now it’s embarrassing to admit how much I cared about it as an 18- or 19-year-old, and the amount of time and emotional energy I sunk into it makes me sad!

I was so excited to have it at the time, but college would have absolutely been better without Facebook.

- Virginia Smith, Managing Editor

I still remember the day I signed up for “thefacebook.com.” I enough of an early adopter at my college to qualify for a silly “Facebook Member Since The Ground Floor” group someone started, which eventually went away along with those “member since” designations in each person’s profile. Ah, the good ol’ days. Now, almost every day I’m on Facebook, I think to myself, “Maybe I’ll quit this week.”

I feel like I’m getting less and less useful information from the algorithmic feed Facebook stuffs in my face. And even then, it feels like most of my friends’ updates are related to one of the following topics: How great our jobs are, how rich we are, and how our great jobs enable us to flaunt our wealth for everyone else to see. It gets old.

That said, Facebook is a useful tool for receiving direct information more newsy topics: ticket sales and promotions for my favourite bands, useful articles I might not have seen on my sprawling Feedly collection, new cute animal GIFs, et cetera. Maybe if I purge all my friends and just follow companies and brands I care about, Facebook will feel more useful as an RSS reader instead of a playground for oversharing .

- David Murphy, Senior Technology Editor


Comments

    I never wanted to be on Facebook, but was forced to join because my WoW guild at the time organised everything via facebook *ugh*.

    I actually quit within a few months when it started sending friend requests to people without my input. As in, I literally never sent a friend request but several people told me they got friend requests from me. I deleted it (at least as much as you can) and told the WoW guild sorry but not using it.

    Even before that tipping point I wasn't happy. The profile I made up was literally made up. Claiming I lived in Antarctica, went to Uni in South America, was born somewhere in Europe, didn't use my real name etc. Yet it still matched to people I knew in real life, the gym I went to, the personal trainer, people I worked with even friends of friends I knew but didn't associate with.

    I got rid of facebook when I kept seeing (a) multiple photos of "friends" pretending how perfect and exciting their lives are and (b) idiots posting or forwarding stupid health claims without thinking (eg drink this lemon juice mixture and you won't get cancer, etc, etc.

    I deleted Facebook in 2009 arguably at a peak of it's popularity with my age group while I was in college. It was extremely hard at first. I realized quickly how many friends I only had online through Facebook and never got there numbers. Or when people would loose their phone and need a new number they would send it out via Facebook, and I would never be able to contact them again unless I happened to run into them. I met people over the next few years or weren't willing to share their personal numbers when I informed them I couldn't had them on Facebook as I didn't have one. I was accused of being 'weird' with 'something to hide' for not having an account several times when meeting potential partners.

    Now days it's a breeze not having an account, it's becoming more normal to ditch your account and keep your data safer. People have learnt to open up and share their mobile numbers now that not everyone has a Facebook.

    It is however truly annoying that some companies don't have a website, and only have a Facebook.

    Mine was when my "news" feed increasingly became photos of kids growing up through to their first day at school. Kids whose parents I hadn't seen since before they were born.
    Not only was it increasingly annoying and irrelevant to me, but it also felt a bit creepy. I didn't want to be looking at all these photos of kids I don't know.

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