Social networking was truly fun in the 90s. I made my own NEW connections, joined my own groups, and was never in anything resembling an echo chamber.
One great example was mIRC. I had joined a group called “Married But Flirting.” Of course, very few people were married, and nobody was flirting. It was named that to scare away the younger people. The thought of an old person flirting with you is unsavory to them.
We had a GeoCities page, where everyone posted one photo and their name. We had monthly meet-ups in Long Beach, California, as well as an annual meet-up in Las Vegas.
But now, it’s all about addiction, anger, “engagement” [advertising], and making bigger and bigger money.
EXPERIENCE IN SOCIAL NETWORKING
Everyone has opinions about social networking. My opinions are based on two things. The first, yet maybe less important, is my experience in social networking activity online. I’ve been using the publicly-available internet since it was first made available in April 1993.
Before that, back to 1987, I ran a BBS for a year, which was a bulletin board service.
The more important basis for my current opinions on social networking are based on professional experience. From mid-2005 to mid-2008, I worked at MySpace. These are often times referred to as “the years that mattered,” as my time there represented the bookends, where the site started to get massively popular, up to when people began abandoning the site.
Yes, Tom was real. Yes, I worked closely with him at time, at least in the early days when there were only 40 of us. By the time I got downsized with 5%, there were tens of thousands of employees in multiple locations.
Since this entry is about social networking and manipulation, there is one other aspect of my experience that qualifies me to talk about this.
DELETING ALL SOCIAL NETWORKING
Another aspect of my experience that is relevant is the fact that I deleted ALL of my social networking accounts. From mid-2014 to mid-2019, I had NO social networking accounts at all.
I had deleted Facebook, my primary access point, along with Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
I would end up starting another LinkedIn profile in 2015 for a few years, but that was only because I accidentally ended up working for LinkedIn for one year, after they purchased lynda.com.
A FACEBOOK PRIMER
For the purposes of simplicity, I will be keeping my focus squarely on Facebook. It is the most accessible and possibly the most addictive website. This is due to their use of algorithms that generate anger, frustration, and a phenomenon known as “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.
The anger generates more time on this site. This is known as “engagement” by advertising people.
While people experience anger while interacting with “out groups,” or people with whom you disagree, they also create echo chambers that encourage you that you’re on the right side of everything. They give you “friends” and you can see each other, so long as there is agreement.
It is a very tricky tight rope act, and Facebook does it very well.
WHEN YOU DELETE YOUR FACEBOOK
Since 1993, I had used social networking. It started with AOL, then CompuServe, then ICQ, mIRC, and so on. With Web 2.0, it was Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook.
It is safe to say that I’ve deleted lots and lots of personal social networking accounts over the decades.
But when you delete Facebook, something very interesting happens. When I deleted mine, I was effectively run off by an angry mob of people who believed that I was “in on it” when I got manipulated and destroyed by a “friend” who claimed that she had cancer.
Nine months and $40,000 later, the truth came out. I got the “I told you so” messages, along with death threats from “friends.”
In other words, I had a major motive to go away and stay away.
During the first month, it was a nightmare. FOMO ran through my Autistic, ruminating mind. What are they saying? What’s happening? What are they going to do to me next?
Lost sleep and the added stress gave me perpetual sweats, slight tremors, stomach pains, and panic attacks. Psychologically speaking, it was almost as bad as the manipulation I suffered from the cancer scammer. This must be what it feels like for drug addicts to quit.
By the end of the second month, and this is the good news, all of those symptoms and stressors faded away. It left me wondering why I had ever posted anything online at all, at any time. Why should anyone care?
THEIR BIG MANIPULATION
When you are in the process of actually deleting your Facebook account, the website immediately engages in manipulation. They start with how they’re “sorry to see you go.”
The two main points of manipulation are key. The first is a fear of loss, when they warn you that all of your data and everything will be “permanently deleted after thirty days.”
This is a complete lie. My account was deleted and NOT re-activated for FIVE years. In my attempt to create a new account in mid-2019, I found that the system noticed me and funneled me into a process that resulted in my OLD account being revived.
There is one other big lie.
YOUR FRIENDS WILL MISS YOU
They will show a handful of random “friend” from your list, and they will tell you that these people will “miss you” if you go.
There are a few reasons why that turned out to be a big lie. I have been searchable online since search engines have existed. Google came into being in 1998, and I’ve owned my website since 1999. Before that, I was on other services, so there was no excuse.
A friend looking for me online in 1993, or even 1987, could have found me.
During those five years, NOT ONE friend on Facebook looked for me. They didn’t email me or call. None of them asked if I was okay. For that, I relied on my two regular friends who have the ability to call, text, or email. They don’t need a bloated hunk of garbage like Facebook to remind them that I exist.
Additionally, when I was forced to re-activate my old account that had been “deleted” for five years, I noted that I still had the same friends. Only ONE of them had wondered where I had been.
The rest didn’t even know that I was gone for five years. I could have DIED and nobody would have missed. me. This is a hard truth to realize.
If you are planning on deleting your Facebook profile:
- It will not be permanently deleted after 30 days.
- Your “friends” won’t miss you.
- You will have physical and psychological withdrawals.
- The harshest withdrawals last 4-6 weeks.
- By 8 weeks, you’ll be so over it that you’ll never want to go back.
So if you’re considering deleting your Facebook account, but have some concerns or feel that you’re facing uncertainties, then I hope that my entry here today will guide you through your journey of freedom.
And if you think that you’d like some consultation on doing this, please feel free to comment on this OR email me through my website. I can answer a few questions for free and reply to a few emails.
For more in-depth support, I would recommend consulting with a therapist.
Best of luck!