Why I Mothballed My Facebook Profile

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I recently mothballed my personal Facebook profile. Specifically, I set my profile to hidden, de-friended all but family and a few close friends, and put up a note that I would no longer be posting to the site any more. To be clear I didn’t deactivate my account; I’m still responsible for some of our diocese’s social media activities and I’m still maintaining my Jonathan F. Sullivan page, so I need access to Facebook. I’m simply no longer using it as a personal social networking outlet.

This may seem an odd move for someone who has widely encouraged the use of Facebook and other social media platforms for catechists and Catholic educators, and the irony is not lost on me. A few people have asked for the specific motivation for this action. The truth is that there’s no single reason, but a variety of factors went into this decision:

  1. Facebook’s  algorithm  stopped working for me. Over the years Facebook has tweaked and changed the way it decides what to show people on the front page. In recent months, for whatever reason, I was seeing fewer things of interest from people I wanted to see stuff from. Admittedly my friends may have been posting less interesting items, but I think the changes to the algorithm are the more likely culprit.
  2. I don’t care about political arguments. This was especially true as we approached last November’s elections, but the number of stupid, poorly informed, and  inflammatory  political posts really soured me on the Facebook experience. I have friends on both sides of the political divide and a lot of them were posting things that are unworthy of my time and attention.
  3. Facebook is the Genesis planet of social media. In  Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Genesis planet (created by a device which takes dead planets and terraforms them into lush, living worlds) proved to be beautiful but extremely unstable, with shifting landscapes and rapidly shifting weather patterns making it all but uninhabitable. It’s an apt metaphor for Facebook’s constantly shifting privacy policies, updates, and backend changes. I’ve grown tired of relearning how to do things on the site every six months.

I want to reiterate that I am still using Facebook for public activities; it is only as a personal social networking site that I’ve abandoned it. I remain convinced that every parish should have a Facebook page to reach out to parishioners. I’m just not as convinced that Facebook is a great place to connect with friends and family anymore.