Deleting Facebook From My Life

Waving goodbye

(Image: sergios)

(Posted on Jan 21, 2011)

It’s official — I’ve deleted my Facebook profile and Facebook pages. I’m removing Facebook from my life from today onwards. At the point of deletion, my personal profile had almost 5,000 friends (5,000 friends is the limit) and my 2 pages had 3,300+ likes (Personal Excellence) and 200 likes (The School of PE).

Hassles with Facebook

This came after a long period of being frustrated with all the spam I was getting on Facebook. I would get a huge number of alerts and notifications every day when I log into the site, despite having deactivated notifications for almost everything possible. I was also getting a huge number of event invitations and additions to groups, of which almost all were spam. It seems that Facebook uses an opt-out rather than opt-in model, meaning rather than requiring your permission to add you to the groups and events, anyone can add you and you’ve to request to be removed instead. Great for getting more users to Facebook, but not so good for users who want their privacy.

Secondly, private messaging was a huge issue I faced. A lot of the messages I got were questions already answered on the FAQs page at PE. I guess FB messaging was a convenient way to contact and there was no way to automatically funnel the readers in my FB to my FAQs section. There was also no way to turn off inbox in FB which was probably a deliberate design since it would probably lose half of Facebook’s appeal.

For a period of time, I stopped checking my FB inbox and just used the regular functions such as the Status Updates and Wall, which were what drew me to FB. (When I deleted my account, I had 253 unread messages.) I thought the users would check the contact form/FAQs after not getting a reply, but instead I started getting Wall messages from users requesting that I answer to their private messages. Also it seemed that some people I knew personally would send me a FB message vs. other means out of convenience, not knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing it. Clearly it wasn’t a solution.

On top of that, I was also getting tagged a lot of random photos (half of which were spammers trying to get their links on my wall), receiving alerts from games and applications (even after blocking a lot of them on a daily basis), getting tagged in notes (again, of which the majority, if not all, were irrelevant to me), etc. I was also getting a fair share of random friend requests from people whom I believe were not Personal Excellence readers but were looking to be friends, as I was getting messages like “hai cutie/sexy”, “hi asl?”, “hi i’m from X country, u?” and “hi would u like to have sex with me”. I think it’s perfectly fine for people to use FB for whatever purpose they deem fit, but for me I was intending to use FB to connect with readers around the world. There was really just no way to tell if the person adding me was a reader or not, unless they included a welcome message.

I think at this point, most people would recommend that I unfriend people I don’t know personally and just keep close friends, family and people in my social circle, but I don’t want that. That’s because I see all my connections as important, including and especially my connections with all of you. If anything, I gather that if you’re reading PE, we probably have a greater affinity (even though we don’t know each other) than acquaintances in real life, because of our common shared passion for growth. What made FB valuable for me to begin with was because it was an easy way for me to connect with all of you on a personal basis. If I removed non-real life friends/family, the whole account would be useless. If someone is a personal connection I’d have his/her contact or email anyway, or I’d know someone who do. I don’t need FB to contact my close friends.

Some might suggest that I start a personal page then for this purpose. First off, my desired username had been used for my profile (“celestinechua” — it cannot be switched to my page). Next, it creates unnecessary administrative work managing a profile and a page, especially when I want to use them for just one same purpose. You cannot delete user accounts as they are needed to start a page. There have been many user complaints on the issues I mentioned above of which have not been addressed by Facebook to date. It feels as if Facebook has outgrown the initial speed and agility of a small start-up and has now turned into a slow, unresponsive organization. I felt like I was trying too hard to make my Facebook account work out, and the end benefit wasn’t exactly my ideal scenario to begin with.

Of course, note that all these problems I’m writing about Facebook are unique to those who are using Facebook beyond its original intended functions. If you’re a blogger or personality using FB to connect with others, you might be experiencing these issues as your network grows bigger. If you’re just a regular user wanting to connect with your circle of a few hundred friends, FB is probably fine for you.

While what I wrote above were hassles, they were more annoyances vs. reasons that would make me quit the site. I would imagine that I would quit one day when things reach a tipping point, but I was still managing ok. What really sealed the deal in deleting my accounts and leaving Facebook was the realization that Facebook had become my comfort zone. Let me elaborate.

As you know, every time new articles are posted, they’re automatically published to Twitter and subsequently Facebook. I know that there would be a number of readers who would read it, and then some of them would “like” it thereafter. Then there would be a mini-discussion going on about the article, many times constructive ones, in the Facebook update.

Now this would be perfectly fine if my plans are to develop Personal Excellence as a community via FB. However they aren’t. I plan to create a community for all of us, and with last year’s Sep and Dec 30DLBLs and the recent successful 21DHL run in Jan, I’m now seeing a budding community of passionate, driven, motivated and talented individuals quickly forming. Facebook has served well as a medium to help us reach out to more people at the early stages of PE’s growth, but it has stopped being useful. In a way it had been my crutch for a good half of last year. Reaching the 5,000 friends limit gave me the impression that I was doing well to reaching people out there, but the truth is there are billions of people who do not know about Personal Excellence at all. While we’ve grown very quickly (we’re now at half a million pageviews a month!), it’s now time to take things to the next level. It’s time for us to come into our own.

Next Phase for PE

Moving forward, it’s now time to build Personal Excellence as a real, actual community of excellence. As I mentioned in my 2010 review, my vision for Personal Excellence is to be a home for everyone who wants to be his/her best self and live his/her best life. Creation of Personal Excellence Forums (PE Forums), conducting the challenges at the forum platform vs. blog-level, and shifting of the article commenting into the main forums are merely the first steps to making this happen. I’ve also been working hard at hacking the forums layout in the past few weeks to make it conducive for user and group-level interaction. To date, we now have over 800 users (Over 300% growth in just 3 weeks – these are non-spam accounts), over 400 discussion threads and nearly 6,000 posts, with many more to come.

I’m excited at what’s next and I hope you are too. Thank you for being here with me on this journey and for being here at PE. I know with the deleting of the accounts (in themselves clutter), it’s now the start to many more great things ahead.

How About You?

Facebook has its merits in keeping social connections alive, but it’s good to evaluate every now and then if you’re using Facebook for your own highest purpose in life.

For one, during the span of time I was on Facebook, I noticed that many people seem to use Facebook as an escape outlet. The number of games inside and the addictiveness of the games have led many to keep returning to Facebook again and again, every night. I’m always seeing new status updates of my connections hitting new high scores in games which is great for them, but the real question is – wouldn’t it be nice if they’re spending that time and energy to achieve new high scores in their own lives instead? The illusionary gratification and emotional high you get from a game may keep you coming back again and again, but at the end of the day the games will end and you’ll be back in the same place in your life.

There is also the group of people who seem perpetually online in Facebook. They are always the first to see new status updates, to “like” them, to comment on them, and to reply to those who commented. These are fine in themselves, but a question to ponder over would be – Are they replying because they just happen to be in Facebook at that time or are they spending time in Facebook to avoid facing other things in their life?

I also noticed that Facebook has made people lazy in reaching out to connect authentically, relying instead on reading others’ user profiles and status updates as an excuse in being kept in the loop of what friends are doing. I think the functions are great ways to know how friends are doing, but they shouldn’t be replacements to connecting with people. If you want to connect with a friend, reach out to him/her. Don’t just glance through his/her profile page then consider yourself updated/connected. That’s not connecting at all.

If you’re facing a job you don’t like, or doing a task you don’t enjoy, don’t try to hide from the problem by turning to Facebook and weaving into its comfy web of linkages and distractions. Addressing the problem directly and working towards your ideal scenario is what’s going to help you live the life you want. I know deep down you have it in you to do whatever you want. Don’t keep your talents away from the world.

At the end of the day Facebook is a tool like everything else. It’s not good nor bad; it’s just a matter of whether it’s a fit for your intentions and whether it’s helping you improve your life or not. I can’t tell you whether you’re using it for the best cause – only you can decide that for yourself. If at any point you don’t think it’s serving you anymore, feel free to remove it away from your life. Let it go with love.

For those of you who have been friends on my profile and/or are fans on the pages, don’t fret because I’m always here at Personal Excellence and at the PE Forums. If you haven’t, feel free to sign-up for an account there. If you’re serious about living your life in excellence together with everyone, it’s a matter of time before you need it since all Personal Excellence post discussions and activities are conducted there. I look forward to connecting with you and everyone.

I have some exciting plans ahead for the next few months which I’ll share in due time as they solidify and kick in. Till then, I’m sending lots of love to all of you. ♥