Why I quit Facebook

By Ninad Pundalik

It’s been almost a year since I quit Facebook (December 2010). I am now tired of remembering and explaining every time why I quit the social network, so I am going to blog about this. If you are reading this, then you know that you have asked a question that bores me. Still, read on to satisfy your curiosity.

Before I get on to why I left Facebook, let me tell you why I joined Facebook in the first place. In the years before 2006, Orkut was the hip social network in India. Everyone in your class used to be on Orkut, and it was a nice place to be, most of the time. Also, 2006 was the year I finished my schooling and left Nashik for a pretty distant college in Rajasthan. STD calls and messages were costly, phone prepaid balances always low and the internet was available free of charge to every student at the hostel. So, Orkut became my sole point of contact with every friend from the school days. But, 2006 was also the time when Orkut started losing favour and everyone moved en-masse to Facebook. I followed the herd and joined Facebook.

For some time, the picture was pretty rosy. I could stay in touch with the friends at Nashik while living in Pilani. But, by 2009, the activity of my school friends on Facebook had gone down. People rarely updated their statuses. In the meanwhile, I had built a network of friends on campus, as well as friends from Twitter. So, the amount of activity on my news feed stayed high. 2009 also saw the rise of Farmville, Mafia Wars and the ilk. Despite regularly blocking social causes, games and other applications, the noise in the stream kept going north.

Over time I noticed that most of my interactions on Facebook were about interesting photos/links that I found on Twitter, which I shared on Facebook. Most of those discussions moved to a private Google Group with friends from campus, exclusively dedicated to good links. I still get most of my interesting links on Twitter. Two people regularly shared a lot of interesting stuff. One was Mr. H. Natarajan, the other was Maithili Desai’s blog. Mr. Natarajan went dormant for a while and Maithili moved all her writings from FB notes to her own blog. This meant that the signal to noise ratio in my timeline dropped like a rock.

There was also the issue of Facebook constantly changing it’s privacy policies. Unlike other web services that inform you in advance of the upcoming privacy policy changes, Facebook is notorious about changing the policies first, and informing every user after the online media raises a ruckus over it. Also, Facebook’s Android application would never let me copy the address book information of my contacts. I stopped short of copying each friend’s contact information manually from the Facebook synchronised address book to the main address book.

At that point, I also realised something very important. Of all the school friends, I had stayed in touch with those who mattered over phone/meeting them in real life whenever possible/instant messaging. Twitter friends were a mention away and most of my friends on campus were on my GTalk list or phonebook. Facebook had become a time sink and it could not justify the time I spent on it.

So, one fine day, I exported all the data that Facebook was ready to give me into a nice little zip file and hit the delete button.

Since then, I have noticed that I spend a little more on calling up friends or relatives over phone, and that I do not receive updates in their life the day they happen. But, I am also a lot more interested in what actually is happening in their life, the important moments actually feel important enough. I also go out and meet people whenever possible and have a good offline life. I do not regret this change. Infact, I love the newer me, or rather, the pre-always connected version of Ninad.

Update: I’ve been reading opinions of some others who quit Facebook, and these two guys have written really well:

P.S.: I also forgot my hatred for the advertisements on Facebook.  Unlike Google’s ads, they are always in your face.  No matter how many Greasemonkey/User scripts I used, some ad always succeeded in peeping out on to the sidebar.  And, I would rather not talk about Facebook constantly suggesting a person as a friend, when we have tonnes of mutual friends, but never really talked to each other in school/tuitions/college.  Their constantly changing user interface and almost complete disdain for accessibility and keyboard shortcuts was another major pain in the neck for me.