I quit Facebook back in 2011 for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the most crucial was to rebel against its core mission: Connecting the world. I was over-connected with the world, acquaintances and friends from the past, and I wanted out.
Zuckerberg has repeatedly doubled down on the toxic idea that we should only have one self, one persona. That we should be the same person in all social circles, lest we be “frauds”.
I’m happy to be a fraud under that definition. I’m not the same person I was in high school. Not the same person I was at university. Not the same person I was with friends at age 15 as I was with a different group of friends at 21. I’m still not the same person with friends in programming as I am with friends in racing or with family or old mates from Denmark.
What allowed me to change and prosper was the freedom to grow apart and lose touch with people. It’s hard to change yourself if you’re stuck in the same social orbit. There’s a gravitational force that pulls you into repeating the same circular pattern over and over again. Breaking out of that takes tremendous force.
In real life, this force is mercifully thrust upon you at critical moments for self-discovery and evolution. You leave university, and you automatically lose touch with most of the people you knew there. It’s not an affront to anyone that this happens. It doesn’t take any effort. Everyone accepts that it’s a natural process.
But Facebook changed that. It stunted this natural, gentle process of growing apart and losing touch. Now the default is to stay connected with everyone you’ve ever friended forever. And to break that connection, you have to actively sever it. Something most people don’t like doing, and don’t like having done to them, so it generally doesn’t happen.
Knowing that everything you share will be seen by all these people from your past quietly. moderates what you actually share. Becoming someone else entails experimenting and failing with new styles and ideas. Not a lot of people are so keen to premiere such vulnerable stages of their evolution in front of an audience that expects them to be that same person they always were forever. I know I wasn’t.
Neither was I interested in constantly living in the past with images and sharing from people whom a natural process would have seen me lose that touch with. It felt suffocating on both a conscious and unconscious level. Connected in the sense that an anchor is to a boat. A literal drag.
So I pressed the red button and nuked all these synthetic connections from Facebook’s orbit in one go.
It was liberating.
Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.