Today, I left Facebook. I didn’t post some sappy goodbye thing. I didn’t want drama. No frills, no bullshit. I just deactivated my account and walked away. I’m a firm believer in the idea that when you’re truly done with something, notes and platitudes are unnecessary. You just go.
I’ve had a few internal conversations about the decision. In fact, I’ve been having those conversations for well over a year now. When you boil everything down, it’s simple: I left a website I no longer wish to be a part of.
But it’s not just that, is it? Not for any of us.
It’s a timeline of our lives since we joined. It’s pictures of our loved ones. It’s great memories of great times we’ve shared. It’s what’s going on in the world, day in and day out. It’s a window into our existences, and our window into the existences of everyone else.
It’s also a revenue-generating site that makes money on our engagement. And to that end, they’ve been caught manipulating our feelings, surfacing our pasts for reaction, willfully promoting fake news and disavowing that they have, and profiting from all of it.
And more, they have done us all a vast disservice. What began as a very powerful tool to stay in contact with one another has become the default medium to argue mindlessly with anyone and everyone who disagrees with us even slightly without consequence. As a User Experience professional and a behavorialist, I can tell you that there are literally dozens of measures that could be put in place to prevent poisoning your news feed with stuff you will react negatively to. I can also tell you that it would result in an easier, calmer, and ultimately less engaging experience, and that would result in far less use, meaning far less ad dollars generated.
In other words, it’s in Facebook’s best interest that we fight, because an angry user who is not angry at the platform itself is a highly engaged user.
You add to that the years of manipulation Facebook has perpetuated by experimenting with our emotions, surfacing depressing things on purpose in A/B testing to see what works and what doesn’t, and extrapolate from there the absolute disregard for fake news and pretending they didn’t have a huge hand in the state of things, and the fact that miraculously I get comments from pro-trump people i’m not connected to in friends’ posts suddenly popping on my newsfeed… You’ll never convince me that they don’t profit from my misery.
I feel like we’ve all been swimming in this community pool full of sewage and shit, and whenever it gets caught not doing right, they make a big show of fishing out a single turd, holding it up and saying “Ok, see? We found the turd. We’ve taken it out. It’s clean now. Please, keep swimming.” And we forget that over a billion toilets flush into it every single day. The water may be clearer, but the disease is still there. And we’re all infected.
And we don’t WANT to get out of the pool. We all pretend it’s fine now, because ultimately, that pool is the epicenter of our social universes. We would rather believe that the powers that be got rid of the only bad thing in it and we can all keep swimming safely, despite the fact they actively profit by our routinely staying sick (but not so sick we die).
The only thing that kept me around, being 100% honest, was access to my readers and vice versa. I was concerned that with new books and new writing i wouldn’t be able to get the word out. And I realized, who cares? If you want to read me, you will. I’ll be writing here daily. I’ll be keeping you in the know on what’s going on with me, both with my writing and with my life. Please, by all means, sign up for the newsletter and bookmark this site.
I wrote about how my relationship with Social Media was making me sick. I decided to leave Twitter (because honestly there’s nothing redeeming about Twitter anymore, it’s just a cannon of hate pointed at whomever the trolls decide to target each day with ZERO recourse from the company to stop it). I thought I could control my Facebook addiction with limited access.
It was a week before I started yelling into the void again. In fact, I started a group on Facebook that ultimately became dangerous. In just under 24 hours, a post I made about becoming an “Inglorious Basterd” went viral, and the small group set up for like-minded folks to fight Nazi propaganda became a massive group calling for active combat. In under 24 hours.
I did a very poor job of policing myself. And what I realized is that there’s no such thing. I am who I am. I’m not going to stop being who I am. But I don’t need to behave the way I was behaving, and the validation and power given me by Facebook to energize people who think like I do is a SUPER powerful thing… When used for good.
But I didn’t use that for good, despite my best intentions. And if I can get got, anyone can. And everyone has. All of us are getting got daily. We are all willfully staring at our computer screens day in and day out, clicking “like” and commenting with affirmation on the things we agree with, and disdain on the things we don’t. And if you want to have a really eye-opening experience, do yourself a favor: go through your activity feed the past week and look at all your comments. Count the number of positive ones vs. the ones that are negative, argumentative, aggressive, hostile or defensive.
I will bet you even money you will have more of the latter. And this is happening daily, to all of us.
That is no way to live.
So I’m out. I know I’m going to take a massive hit to daily readership — but you know what? That’s fine. I feel like those who want to read my writing, will. For those whom I was merely a convenient source of entertainment as what I had to say scrolled by in their news feed on Facebook, who aren’t really willing to open a new window to read what I have to say… Big fucking loss there, huh?
For the rest of you: Hi. I’m Joe Peacock. I’m going to be writing, a lot. I am glad you’re here. Thanks for joining me. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m fully, 100% committed to getting it all done without distraction. I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy it, and share what you think is worth sharing. Thanks for reading.
Please consider signing up for my newsletter — today, subscribers got a free copy of the first volume of my upcoming book series. You never know what I’m going to send out in those things. Better to be a part of it than not, I say.