The Facebook dilemma: to delete, or not to delete?

Emma CosseyDigital Media, Jennifer, Social media14 Comments

Leaving Facebook

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I’ve been thinking about it for a while. The writing is on the wall. Our relationship has felt toxic for over a year now, and I’m just not feeling the love.

I want to dump Facebook.

Facebook and I have had a strained relationship for a while. On the one hand, it’s my bread and butter – I teach small businesses how to use social media, and run social media campaigns. I still believe it has strength for business use. On the other hand, I find it an increasingly negative place to be on a personal basis. There seems to be a vast difference in the way people communicate on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Twitter is a great place to have discussions and debates, Google+ is informative and wonderfully geeky, while Facebook is a little…. whiney. People are either moaning, making passive aggressive jabs at others or telling everyone how in love they are. It’s not exactly an inspiring place to be. That’s not to say it’s entirely uninspiring. I have a collection of friends in the digital industry who do share interesting things. Those interesting things just happen to be sandwiched between someone slagging off their baby daddy and another person sharing the fifth photo of their little bundle of joy that day.

Leaving FacebookSo, I’ve played around with the idea of quitting Facebook. But here’s the thing: it’s not just as simple as hitting the delete button. There are several reasons why it’s tricky:

  • I use it for business, so I still need some form of account to access all the pages.
  • All my photos are on there, as well as those I’m tagged in, so I need to download them all.
  • I rely on Facebook to know when people’s birthdays are. God, I’ll have to start being organised!
  • People take it as a personal attack when you delete your account.

That last point is ridiculous but quite true. When I voiced my thoughts about quitting Facebook recently, someone commented “Why, what have I done?” That pretty much sums up the problem with Facebook.

Delete or rejig?

So, it’s tricky to have a clean break from Facebook. For the moment, I’ve come up with the following solutions:

  • Delete the people I really don’t want to be friends with. The Cull.
  • Those people you can’t delete but don’t want to see (embarrassing aunts, annoying partners of your friends etc), change the settings so you only see the really important statuses. You can do this by clicking on the arrow next to their latest status and hitting ‘hide’. You’ll then get two options, “Change what updates you get from ******” and “Organise who you see in News Feed”. Firstly, click on the first option and choose “Important updates only”. then choose the second option, where you’ll get a list of the people you don’t talk to very often. You can then add them to the ‘Important updates only’ list too.
  • Hide all the games apps. You can also block all the invites too.
  • Hide the stalker sidebar. There is such a thing as information overkill.

So, this is my plan for the next couple of weeks. If that doesn’t work, I’ll bite the bullet and delete it alltogether.

Why are so many of us rejecting Facebook?

The interesting thing is, I’ve spoken to a few people about this recently, and the majority have considered doing the same. So, what is Facebook doing wrong? Arguably, the majority of problems come from how people use the site, not the site itself. But there seems to be a rebellion against the kind of over-sharing most of us have been doing for the past couple of years. Perhaps it’s the recession, but people seem to want to go back to the simple things a little more.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Facebook in the next few years. They’ve been at the centre of many discussions recently, with their changes to their advertising policies and controversy over whether page admins should have to pay for their own fans to view content. There’s a growing resentment over the site – and it’s probably even more annoying because it now has such a large part of many of our lives. We organise events through Facebook, upload our images, chat to long-lost friends and message others. Like it or not, it seems to draw us in and has us checking it while we’re queuing at the supermarket or on the bus to work. It’s the Daily Mail of social networks.

How do you feel about Facebook? Do you love it, or loath it?

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Emma CosseyThe Facebook dilemma: to delete, or not to delete?

14 Comments on “The Facebook dilemma: to delete, or not to delete?”

  1. anotherrambler

    Very interesting post! I have friends managing company pages who have actually set up a separate professional – essentially empty – profile to do this. I haven’t and do manage a company page which I show up as an admin for which means I haven’t managed to keep my personal and professional lives separate. I spent a couple of hours over the weekend managing my friend list: I divided everyone into close friends, friends and acquaintances so I can manage who sees what I post and photo albums. That seemed nicer than culling friends! However, I find it really annoying of Facebook that you can’t set a global permission for images other people tag of you but have to untag each image.

    I have over 4,000 fans on my Facebook page ( but not that much interaction goes on here. I set up a Facebook group after doing some social media training with Jennifer as she suggested that might stimulate more interaction, but so far it’s not that successful. Twitter is generally a much better way to engage in conversations.

    1. emmacossey

      I’ve been trying to set up professional posts, but even with the highest privacy settings people are still finding me! Yes, lists seem key to giving you peace of mind without burning bridges.

  2. Kirsty Marrins (@LondonKirsty)

    I hear ya Emma! As I also use it professionally, I can’t just delete my account. Plus, being quite a long way across the pond from my family and friends, it is useful to keep in touch. My biggest peeve is when people use it as their ONLY means of communication. For example, inviting you to an event. What if I didn’t log on for a while? I’d have no idea about this ‘event’. Bah humbug!

  3. Rosie Slosek (@1ManBandAccts)

    Cull, cull, cull. Mostly, you need to be really strict with yourself about who you will be friends with, and use lists. My personal friends are sorted into Close and Acquaintances (depending on how much they post and how much I want to read what they say). I don’t have anyone who I want to stay friends with but don’t want to read what they post (inspiring pics anyone?) – if I did, they’d go in a feed I didn’t look at. Business friends go in Restricted so they only see my Public posts.

    All pages I like for business are in a Business feed, others go in a Personal feed.

    Mostly though, it’s not Facebook the issue, it’s the friends, so sort them out. Bip me on Google + (or FB!) and I’ll talk you through what I do in more detail if you like.

    1. emmacossey

      I’ve been culling for a while. The trouble is, sometimes the statuses that annoy you the most are from those you can’t cull because they’re too close – e.g. family or certain friends. I really must sort them into lists like you have though. I’ve got lists for pages, but haven’t got round to people yet.

  4. Vital Simplicity

    Really like this article. Just set some Facebook boundaries and “I’m feelin’ ya.” Deleted all my Friends and am using FB for the “Likes” pages that I love to receive photos and quotes from regularly. I think that between email and texting, I’ll be just fine now. Perhaps the most difficult thing about making a break, as you mentioned, is how people can react. Not an easy one to overcome, which is a contributing factor to my decision to delete everyone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. emmacossey

      Yes exactly, people’s reactions are very strange! I deleted a friend a while ago, who I haven’t spoken to in literally years, and they emailed me days later to ask why. Intense much?

      1. Vital Simplicity

        Made me laugh, although I know it’s not supposed to be funny. It’s just so weird. I’ve had to really face a lot of people pleasing issues to face Facebook issues. There should be therapists strictly dedicated to Facebook trauma. :)

  5. Pingback: Delete your Facebook….Gasp… « Help 4 Life

  6. markbraggins

    Well said Emma. I agree with you about how Facebook gets used. I go there rarely, and dutifully rather than enthusiastically. Thanks for the handy tips.

  7. Roger Massey

    Not a lot of people know about the ability to download your Facebook content:

  8. Ross W

    Totally agree with most of this. My Facebook presence is very minimal.

    You’ve missed one key downside of not being on there: other people rely on it to know when YOU’RE birthday is. Leaving Facebook, or choosing not to share your birthday, is a true test of who gives a damn about you!

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