Bye bye, Facebook

May 13, 2010

For two and half years I have lived and breathed on Facebook.

From uploading photos and following Obama’s inauguration to harvesting crops on Farm Town and “liking” Chocolate Brownies, I have done it all.

I used to be the most vocal advocate for Facebook — getting a number of colleagues and friends to sign up. My slogan used to be, “If you want to keep up with me, create a Facebook account.”

There was a time in 2008 when I would post three to four status updates — mundane things like “getting iced after an intense hour of physical therapy” to exciting announcements like “on vacation for next three weeks! Woohoo!”

Then I got a brilliant idea — born out of a random lunch conversation at work — to ask a daily question.

My status updates consisted only of that question every day — restricted, of course, to a select few friends — interspersed on occasion by updates on hikes, dinners, birthday celebrations and such.

It worked well.

facebook1 Bye bye, Facebook

And even though it seemed to some friends that I had no qualms about sharing “everything” on Facebook, what they didn’t know was that they were part of a select group that had access to “everything.”

When you have 400 “friends” you have to have robust privacy settings.

Even though I had been very careful about accepting friend requests (they were only people I had met in real life), recently the lines had begun blurring. There were some people I had e-communicated with but never met who had also made it to my friends’ list.

Of those whose requests I had accepted, not all were good friends in real life — most were acquaintances. And some were just folks whom I had met once and had a faint memory of.

Yet, on Facebook they were all my friends.

The only way I could differentiate between them was by creating lists.

Good friends, friends, acquaintances, not friends, coworkers, former colleagues, high school classmates, college classmates, distant memories, family.

Each set having their own set of access settings.

I had become quite good at restricting who saw how much of what — I needed to be good at it.

My life was not an open book and I wasn’t going to invite near-strangers to have a peek. Facebook had made it easy for me to share aspects of my life with near and dear ones spread far and wide in this world, while reconnecting (but not intimately) with long lost school and college friends.

I’d “preview” my profile every time Facebook decided to change its settings to make sure those who had restricted access weren’t all of a sudden beginning to see my anniversary celebration photos.

It never occurred to me that it was much more work to post and then hide information from a select set. Why not just e-mail photos to those I wanted to exclusively share them with? Because not everyone who was my Facebook friend was in my address book. And everyone was on Facebook!

While I enjoyed interacting with these folks on the social media platform, I didn’t have their e-mail address or phone numbers stored anywhere.

Facebook made it easy — it reminded me of their birthdays, let me drop them direct messages, allowed me to chat with them in real time without any need of knowing how to get in touch with them should Facebook one day die.

And therein lies the problem.

The perceived ease is a sham.

Maintaining all those “friendships” is becoming more and more onerous.

And the new privacy settings just don’t allow me to feel in control anymore.

Of course, this may not be the route you want to take, but know of the reasons why more and more people are opting out. If you’d like more information on deactivating or deleting your account, here is a step-by-step guide.

Deleting my Facebook account means I won’t be able to find out about my pals’ Bejeweled Deluxe scores or get ban facebook1 Bye bye, Facebookupdates on their daily food intake.

It also means I won’t find out about events, or see the latest baby pics.

I won’t be able to get insider deals from Southwest or Sweet Tomatoes.

And I’ll miss the scoop on who’s “friending” whom.

Deleting my Facebook account means I will once again have to e-mail a link to my photos to the 40-odd people I want to share them with.

It will mean catching up with friends — making them repeat in detail the summaries of life events that they posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

It will mean not having to worry about who sees which updates when Facebook decides to tweak their privacy settings yet again. It will mean not being guilted into accepting friend requests from names and faces I barely remember.

It will help rescue the meaning of friendship — the kind that allows for a give and take interaction, instead of one that allows passive stalking of online profiles.

Friendship requires work — and I am willing to roll up my sleeves again.

Deleting my Facebook account doesn’t mean I’m going into an online cocoon.

I will still be sharing articles I like, posting photos, and writing daily on my blog. (You can subscribe to these blog posts by e-mail or RSS — or just remember to come here daily.)

I will still be part of a network — the vibrant, alive, buzzing real-people network.

Deleting my Facebook account doesn’t mean I don’t exist anymore.

I am here.

Feel free to drop me a line either privately or via the comments section below. If you fear we’ll lose touch, send me your e-mail address and phone number.

And if you’re local, have been following my Facebook updates, love the conversations we have online, but haven’t met me in ages — let’s get together for coffee or tea.
16081BD1A60533E0F1173D28DE4F0D3F Bye bye, Facebook

Full disclosure: I will still have a Facebook account for official purposes — my professional commitments require I help with the university’s Facebook presence — but I will not be accepting any friend requests.

dp seal trans 16x16 Bye bye, FacebookCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mansi Bhatia

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36 Responses to Bye bye, Facebook

  1. BillNo Gravatar on May 13, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Hi Mansi, Sorry to see you go. I subscribed to your blog via email so we should still be able to stay in touch. I don’t use FB much except for the kids & my blog so I don’t worry as much. I do know there’s a lot of people upset about the changes.

    Hugs & I look forward to the next blog.


    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 4:21 am

      I’m still here, Bill :-)

  2. RahulNo Gravatar on May 13, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Hey Mansi, FB is coming under lot of flak for the new privacy settings..So kinda good decision, if you like sharing things which should not be accessible to all..Btw for me Twitter is the new facebook..Cheers…

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 4:21 am

      Thanks, Rahul. In the one day that I have been off, I am realizing how much time I devoted to it. Kind of like a social detox for me, as Susan put it :-)

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mansi, Karla Harby. Karla Harby said: Deleting my Facebook-I was gone for months-sounds good again. I like Twitter much better. FB, I may exit soon. […]

  4. VikasNo Gravatar on May 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    love this post as usual :D ) you write so nicely.

    Facebook is never a replacement for close friendships, it is merely suppose to be an addendum to our existing relationships, if at all anything. A technology can never go beyond human imagination and thus, it is always within human power. It is only that we decide where to spend our energies.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 4:38 am

      Thanks, Vikas.

  5. SusanNo Gravatar on May 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Dear Mansi:

    Well-thought decision. SOmetimes it just gets a bit too much. I have been contemplating on similar lines, but have not been able to decide. So for the time being, I have kept my FB account. Let’s see what the future holds.

    So far so good.

    A kind of social detox, I reckon.

    Have fun with the extra time and energy.

    Joy always,

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 4:33 am

      You said it, Susan. It is a social detox.

      A lot of my coworkers came by yesterday to ask how I would deal with the vacuum…the void in my life now…and some checked in with me this morning asking if I was having any regrets. I hadn’t realized until their collective reactions that Facebook had become such a big part of my life.

      Made me think about what I’ve gained and lost in the process.

      24 hours after pulling the plug, I can confidently say I haven’t lost anything. I’ve received e-mails and phone calls from people giving me their contact information and expressing their desire to stay in touch. And I now have some time in which to think and read more instead of browsing, absorbing endless amount of irrelevant data, and engaging in passive gossiping.

  6. AntaraNo Gravatar on May 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Hey Mansi,

    Wow!! That’s a shocker!!

    Let me know if you still would like to contribute to B’Khush :-)
    Publishing your’s always a pleasure..:-)

    anyways you have my email please email me..:-)



    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 11:36 am

      Of course, I’d still like to contribute to B’Khush, Antara. You can always e-mail me, too. Looking forward to staying in touch :-)

  7. MarilynNo Gravatar on May 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Your post took me back to my myspace experience, the experience of have 2000 ‘friends’…what started as a playground of creativity spiraled into an image factory. One day I took a look at the monster and I killed it, going to the more interactive community of FB for the very reasons you cited. Now the privacy dragon came and the marketers and manipulators to try to sell us everything and in the process people were turned into brands.

    A friend of mine wrote to me when I first started publishing my work, about ‘branding’…and I recoiled at the thought. I am NOT a brand I replied back. I wanted the freedom to create…to be a creator…and that means NO limitations.

    So what does this have to do with your decision to kill FB? Well, you choose to shape it in the direction you want. I could have had over 2 zillion friends…but the thing that matters to you is connecting with people you want to.

    I go through purgings…the last one was when my page was approaching the 600 mark. I realized there are people who view the numbers as associating with love…or need to network market…etc. I cleared away 250…not because of comments or lack of them…that is a poor way to do it. I simply asked what do I know about them? Are we adding to each other’s lives in a positive way? Do I need to let them go because a relationship has come to a termination point? It is healthy to go through and realize you have to feel good about who you let into your life. become an image or an alter-ego who isn’t close to the real self we all need to be. When we take the ability to be human out of the experience…you take the joy away.

    For others, it would be a fearful thing to kill social networking…because ‘how will anyone know’? The reality is, it is a tool that can be used or misused.

    I looked at Twitter, had an account, and killed my Twitter account in short order…it wasn’t that I didn’t get it…it was I got it…and had no desire to be a part of it.

    Social networks have become the real life SIMs of this age. We have learned though, there are limits that belong to everyone. There are the veils and levels of intimacy that are required for all people…and are created for reasons…because we need them. Even amongst our own friends, we choose those intimate levels. We speak to each person differently because we are all unique and we recognize that in each other.

    Maybe we needed the networks to see we needed to value our lives in the real world more.

    Thank you for posting and sharing your experience…I hope this sparks a wonderful discussion. Television was afraid we wouldn’t watch them any more when the internet came…and now the web may be afraid that we might return to the real world again…and that might just make us all think for ourselves…once again.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 16, 2010 at 3:44 am


      Your comment is almost as good as a blog post in and of itself :-)

      Thanks for taking the time to read and then share your insights.

      I think all of us have started viewing others and ourselves as walking talking brands…of something. It’s a mind shift perpetuated by the media, mostly television, and more recently social networking sites. We’ve allowed ourselves to be sucked in with no option to break free of the shackles. But isn’t that a myth?

      We’re told over and over this is the wave of the future and we feel if we’re not on this boat we will miss something. But are we really? A LOT of people have expressed their shock at my leaving Facebook, especially since I was such an active user -and advocate-of the site. But immediately after they experess their shock, they ask, "Is deleting my Facebook account easy? Do you think I can do it?"

      I’m encouraging them to ask why themselves why they want to quit. Some folks joined just because they saw I was having so much fun with it, now just because i have left doesn’t mean they need to, too. I still want to be part of social conversations and express my thoughts…and I feel I can continue to do that through this site and via in-person interactions or emails exchanges. Others might not have those avenues…just the way being on Facebook is not for everyone, leaving it is not for everyone either.

      At the end of the day, everyone needs to make their choice…all I’m asking is that they remember they have a choice.

      Thanks, again, for your precious insights.

  8. Andrew WoodNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Mansi, as always, you have shared a thought-provoking response to a contemporary issue, and you’ve inspired me to think more fully about Facebook.

    Inspired by your post, here’s my two cents:

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 7:04 am

      Thanks, Andy. I’m glad my action has sparked a conversation. As I said in my blog post, it’s not for everyone. And most people who are used to the ease of keeping up to date with their friends via Facebook will find it really hard to call it quits, but it is at least worth a second thought.

    • MarilynNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm

      Andy a great post, I enjoyed your views…I think the debate is going to be alive and well. Can there be a social networking site that exists without commerce behind it? Now that might be a revolution of the people…but I will disagree with you on this one point. Mansi is not a brand…she is a woman. We are people, and don’t need to lower ourselves to becoming objects for possession.

  9. MichelleNo Gravatar on May 14, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Glad to see a post that articulates better than I have been able to – to my own friends and collegues – why I refused to ever open an account. Social nuances are not taken into consideration and I always knew of Mark Zuckerberg’s unethical beginnings. It amazes me how many of my educated, intelligent friends just don’t care. I’m not sure this recent move by FB will effect the population enough to take it down. But I’m glad the issue is FINALLY gaining a little momentum.

    It’s also sad how many of my own friendships have degraded in quality since people became addicted to FB. It’s as if they forgot how to call, email and exist. Sadly, I learned by not being on Facebook how several of my friends – really weren’t much of friends at all. If I didn’t exist there, it was if I didn’t exist at all. Tough lesson, but glad to refine my circle and keep it quality.

    I’ve been hoping someone like a Richard Branson would create a competing site that didn’t make it’s money from advertising…it’s not a model that can work in favor of individuals. While no one that big has yet come along, I"m really excited about these NYU kids and how fast their project has gained momentum They were hoping for 10k, they have over 100k 12 days into the project. That really says something.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 16, 2010 at 3:52 am

      Thanks, Michelle.

      I deliberated my decision to quit for two to three weeks, going back and forth between deactivating or deleting…I finally decided to cut my ties completely because of the same reasons you cite. Having friendships that actually mean something is more important to me than having a friendship counter. Facebook has many good things going for it but it does end up diluting relationships…the ones that matter anyway. I’d rather take the time to send someone a thoughtful email instead of a mass announcement that they may or may not see.

      First Myspace was all the rage, then Twitter and Facebook…Buzz caught on to some extent, and now Diaspora. We’re always going to be seeking ways of sharing our thoughts, our lives with people close to us…these social networking sites serve to expand that social circle to a lot of other people, which has its advantages and disadvantages.

      I don’t want to be sucked in anymore and have friends just because. I want to be able to choose my friend circle and "be" a friend.

      Thanks, again, for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  10. DeepaliNo Gravatar on May 16, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Hey…came back from my vacation to see you missing from FB…..thora sa limit kar ke rakh lo…….
    been reading the blogs..really good…keep me updated…

  11. DevNo Gravatar on May 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Greetings there! Just bumped into your blog by accident and your name rang a bell.
    I think we interacted long back when we both were applying for grad studies. You very very helpful and encouraging. Nice to see you well settled and enjoying your life/work. I remember that even then you were very focused and clear about your goals.
    Regarding facebook, my story is very similar like yours, except that after deactivating my account in March, I activated it again last week. Perhaps you might do the same.
    No matter how much I hate facebook, it has become an evil social/professional necessity of our times. Nobody is writing emails anymore to people; the question people ask nowadays is, ‘are you on facebook’?
    I think with new privacy settings, its possible to have your own space there. Regarding addiction, its like any addiction. One has to control the urge and exercise some will power. What I do generally is that I go to my facebook only once a day, just before going to bed. Starting your day with facebook, and then checking every hour, I agree, is total waste of time and your mental bandwidth.
    I think if we use FB judiciously, its a great tool to stay connected with our friends and professional contacts with one small post or status update. Especially for a new filmmaker like me, I need to spread the word around about my film among my friends and professional contacts.
    Having said all that, I do agree that, very strictly speaking, one can certainly do without FB. I mean, like anything else in life, FB is not indispensable. :)
    I will come back to read more of your blog.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on May 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Dev. I appreciate your insights and have to tell you that after the first week of feeling like I was missing out on something I realized I really wasn’t. What helped was the overwhelming response from friends (former colleagues, high school buddies, college mates) who emailed and called letting me know their preferred contact information. Local friends invited me to lunch and coffee. By getting off the Facebook grid, I was actually able to connect with my friends at a deeper level. By closing that door, I have opened windows to many more meaningful interactions. And just FYI, I deleted my account, which is different from deactivating it, so for me there is no going back :-)

      • DevNo Gravatar on May 27, 2010 at 8:10 pm

        Thanks for your reply Mansi. Well, good for you if deleting FB account has worked out better in the end for you. The important thing is that you are happy with the outcome. I was also not really missing it much when I had deactivated my account, but everybody was after my life to be back there. lol
        Anyways, I’m back there now but will use more discretion there now. Btw, didnt know that deleting was an option on FB, bec i wanted to do the same at that time but FB didnt give me that option. I was able to delete my Orkut but when I tried doing the same for FB, I was only given an option to deactivate.
        See ya.

        • MansiNo Gravatar on May 28, 2010 at 10:09 am

          From my blog post:

          If you’d like more information on deactivating or deleting your account, here is a step-by-step guide.

          A lot of people pressured me, too. And having deleted my account helped, knowing that I couldn’t (wouldn’t) rejoin the "madness." :-)

  12. SandyNo Gravatar on June 5, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Whew. Good to see I’m not alone in this one. I used to spend far more time on FB but I didn’t accept everyone’s friend request. There were people in my industry and associated industries who asked and it didn’t take long for me to realize they were ‘using’ me. The one good thing that has come out of it is I have connected with some friends from long ago. That was nice initially but after….Hi, how are you! Four kids? That’s great…..there wasn’t much to talk about. Let’s face it, if I haven’t spoken to them in 25 years, what do I have to say now?

    The privacy issue spooks me, too. I haven’t been as diligent as you in checking the settings after each ‘update.’ I did, however, remove my photos. That was starting to make me feel creepy. Anyway, good for you, I think my time is coming.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on June 7, 2010 at 5:43 am

      I have been Facebook-free for a good two weeks now, and loving it! I’ve realized it’s more a peer-pressure thing than anything else…people fear they will “miss out” on their friends’ updates and other important things, but really how many “important” things do people post on Facebook? And if they are your friends, they will let you know anyway…you don’t need to be on an online social network for that. That’s what real life and real relationships are for.

  13. Claudia SchlottmanNo Gravatar on June 7, 2010 at 2:05 am

    This whole topic is very thought provoking. Even before I read your post, I was considering severing my facebook ties. Though I have limited my friends, I am beginning to worry about the privacy issues, especially. And the advertising is running me up a tree! When I get right down to it, most of my fb friends are people I can pick up the phone and call or shoot off an email. Do I really need it? NO. Will I close my account? I’ll take a few days or weeks to decide, but I think I will be following in your footsteps.

    Your prose is beautiful – flowing and visual. Thanks for this post.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on June 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Claudia, and for your kind words. It feels daunting to take the final step…you could try deactivating, instead of deleting, your account and see how it goes.

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  15. MDGNo Gravatar on July 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Ah, someone else who feels the exact same way I do! I had over 200 friends and recently got it down to 80. My home page isn’t so exciting anymore, but I love knowing the people I am sharing my information with are the people I am most close to and care about.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on July 14, 2010 at 2:21 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience, MDG. It’s hard to have meaningful relationships with such a wide network of people. Facebook tried to change the definition of friendship, but what it really amounted to was increasing the number of superfluous relationships in one’s life.

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  18. Alekh AgrawalNo Gravatar on January 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Hi Mansi,

    Well as your initial days, I too am an ardent fan of facebook and ensure people around me appreciate it too (sadly facebook pays me nothing for all my troubles). But I find it possible to live with the devil. I totally agree that the passive ease of my comp screen has….well….kind of screened me from real life interactions, but for my special friends there is always time. Fb helps me keep in touch with those whome I can’t meet or rather would be happy just staying in touch. And I think it gives that personal touch that e-mail just cannot. About safety, well I dunno, maybe you are right and I should give it more thought. But for now I can’t seem to get over it. Finally its a personal decision but your well articulated dialogue definitely helps people decide. Best. Alekh

  19. wellbeingNo Gravatar on May 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I tried to cancel facebook but it shows me that this isnt possible because im developer of some application, which i really dont have idea about what application thy said. Do anybody has idea how can I say bye bye to facebook?

  20. StephanieNo Gravatar on January 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Hey there Mansi,

    I didn’t see any update as to whether or not you had reverted back to Facebook? Just curious. You would have gone a long time! Most people find themselves back on the site in no time! Today I finally deleted my Facebook account and as long as I don’t log in within the next two weeks it will be deleted! I’ve done the Facebook Sabbaticals before, and always felt so productive. For me, the key to staying off was to prepare ahead of time. If you want, check out my blog. I think I have some helpful tips to successfully keeping off the site :-)

    Take Care!

  21. AmeeNo Gravatar on January 12, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Mansi, I’m half-way through deleting my account. It’s both terrifying and exciting. But honestly, I’m ready to be rid of the constant noise of keeping up with almost 500 “friends.” I never utilized all the privacy settings- it was too much hassle. I’ll miss the quick access, sure. But I’m curious what changes this will bring.

    My only concern is that I’m a writer, and promoting my column and my blog will be more difficult now. Also, I won’t get the same feedback, since usually people would only comment on facebook rather than bothering to comment directly on my articles or blogs. But I’m half-way through my friends list, and there’s no turning back now. Like you said, so many people say they want to do it, but no one does. I want to show people that yes, you can live without it. If I get invited to less parties, oh well.

    I initially deleted it but had to come back to get some contacts for a job interview, since I had lost all my contacts when I got a new phone. I blogged about it, and now am determined to finish what I started. That post has been one of the most popular recently, telling me that others are curious about it too- it’s a good post, and I’m not going to delete it. So I’m deleting facebook, one friend at a time.


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