I Deactivated Facebook 5 Years Ago- Some Observations
I deactivated my Facebook account in Spring 2013. I weighed the decision against the utility of the social network versus it’s glaring downsides. It looked something like this:
- Keeping in touch with family and friends
- Social Validation (no one wants to admit this one)
Data Sharing/ Privacy
‘Connectivity’ at the expense of ‘Productivity’
Social Validation is a waste of time
I’ll take a look at some of these in depth and examine some of the positive outcomes that I attribute to my decision to leave the social network.
Keeping in Touch
After 7 years on the social network, I had amassed around 2,500 friends on the platform. Most of these came from college and work as I was active in many tech and business- oriented organizations. I was concerned with losing touch with these folks.
This was unfounded. I have a cell phone which was easy enough to keep in touch with. The folks with a positive influence in my life stayed involved in my life. What I found was, many of the people I considered friends were actually mild acquaintances at best.
While this quirk isn’t unique to my generation, the scale at which we seek it is. People in my generation (millennials) spend an inordinate amount of time constructing an online perception of the life they live in the real world. I wasn’t immune from this. Social Validation feels good but is it really something worth pursuing? I strongly believe it’s not. It’s my opinion that vanity is one of the largest barriers to success.
The cult of Entrepreneurship that’s emerged in the tech world is toxic. We sell the sexy side of entrepreneurship with little mention of the risks or reality of starting your own business. Tech incubators and co-work spaces are the equivalent of Abercrombie and Hollister stores. 98% fluff with little substance or quality.
I’ve failed in business multiple times but thankfully wasn’t overextended to the point of calamity. I use the word ‘Business’ lightly as ‘side-hustle’ is likely more applicable.
I mention the Cult of Entrepreneurship because this is the area where I was most guilty/active. Being a young engineer, I played a role in spreading the ‘start-up’ myth which likely deserves its own post.
My generation are notorious over-sharers with little thought to the consequences, intended or unintended. I work extensively with data (analysis, automation, optimization etc.) and was responsible for doing a lot of work in AdTech that is now being reexamined.
This is what drew me to the SteemIt platform. It’s been noted that on Web 2.0 platforms, you are the product. Users generate petabytes of data and content for free and these platforms in turn monetize you.
Connectivity at the Expense of Productivity
I can pinpoint the exact point in time where Facebook became a major time sink for me. Facebook rolled out Facebook Chat in 2008. This feature killed my productivity. I was an adult but sitting around on Facebook waiting for friends to get online so I could chat like a middle schooler on AIM.
I wasted hours on Facebook Chat. Of course there were some productive conversations but I couldn’t tell you what conversations were about. This is where I observed a problem forming.
Social Validation is a Waste of Time
I don’t have anything more to add to this. Validation should come from within, not from a bunch of people you probably don’t even care about.
Outcomes Since Deactivating Facebook
I Tripled My Salary
I’ve been in tech for 8 years now. Salaries in tech are typically higher than the national median but there is serious competition to stay relevant and you have to constantly revisit your skill set to keep pace with what the market demands. I’ve since left engineering and moved towards leadership roles focused on Cross-functional Strategy and Operations.
I was never a particularly good engineer. I’ve worked with some of the best in the world and I’m mediocre when compared to them.
However, engineering skills are domain dependent. In the tech world, I was mediocre but throw me in Healthcare, Government, or Finance and I’d likely be a rockstar. I recognized this and decided to reorient my career to play to my strengths.
I’ve always been an atypical engineer bucking the stereotype of the scruffy computer geek with 0 people skills. I was able to communicate without being a dick. Sales people liked me because I could make eye-contact and clients liked me because I didn’t talk down to them while breaking down complex, technical problems into accessible business questions.
I moved up to Director within a few years. My experience in the trenches with data engineering and Business Intelligence prepared me to take on leadership roles that drove measurable revenue outcomes for companies I worked for.
I Started a Few Businesses and Failed Miserably
- Business Intelligence Consultancy (Failed, 2015)
- Niche Fashion e-Commerce (Failed, 2016)
- Social Media Automation Tool (Failed, 2016)
- Secondary Market Arbitrage (This one actually did pretty well but wasn’t scaleable)
- Import- Export (Failed 2017, but I’m executing one with promise right now)
In all, I probably lost around $35,000 because of these ventures. This seems like a lot of money but I look at it as tuition I paid to learn what real-world business is like versus the start-up myth propagated by the tech world. These experiments are the focal points of most my interviews and led to meeting some really interesting people who are actually building some incredibly businesses.
Deactivating Facebook enabled me to focus on moving the needle in my life and focus on getting myself to where I want to be (Financial Independence by 35 years old, I’m 30 right now).
I firmly believe Facebook and their associated properties like Instagram are a cancer for most people (myself included). I’m absolutely certain we’re going to look back on Facebook in 10-15 years the same way we look back on Phillip Morris in the 50’s.
I don’t want to downplay the value of connectivity. It certainly has an inordinate amount of value but I’d challenge people to evaluate if Facebook is really driving net-value to their lives. I suspect it’s not. The convenience of a single platform to stay connected with friends and family doesn’t outweigh the abuses that have come to light in recent years.
Ask yourself, is Facebook really that valuable to your life? I decided it wasn’t and haven’t looked back since.
Just my 2 satoshis.