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I have recently been reading a lot about how social networking services such as Facebook could be having a damaging effect on our society and our human values.
When I then decided to delete my Facebook account I found that it wasn't a simple matter of just pressing the "deactivate account" button.
I have written this article to explain why I have decided to delete my Facebook account and how with some difficulty I eventually managed to do so.
Up to a few weeks ago I had a Facebook account. When I first created my Facebook account I was quite excited about the prospect of getting in touch with family and friends I hadn't heard from in years. I also liked the idea that I could share family photographs with friends and family because jpeg files are very heavy to send by e-mail.
My children were already on Facebook when my wife and I created our accounts and though we could see that it seemed to be an important feature in their lives it wasn't until we joined that we realised how important it was in their lives.
Strange New World
It wasn't long before invitations from ex-students from all over the world started to arrive and that definitely made me feel good. After accepting their friend invitation there usually followed a flurry of messages back and forth as we caught up on each other's lives and then it all went dead.
I usually never heard from them again except to see messages on their status to say what they had been up to every time I opened Facebook. I found it hard at first to get around the idea that there were two separate worlds there. The world of "my friends" and my own world "my profile" and they were completely separate except that "my friends" could look at what I was doing in my world without me ever knowing.
The best way for me to describe it is like me watching the world out of my window and seeing the interaction between passers by on the street but those same passers by could look into my home and watch what I was up to without me being aware of it unless they knocked on the window and waved in or as in Facebook by leaving a comment.
I realised of course that people had their own social circles and though I had once figured in their lives I definitely did not figure any more. I imagine also that once the initial pleasantries had been exchanged and we were now friends on Facebook we could then just go back to the way things were before we ever became friends. I found this weird I suppose because the word "Friend" means something very different to me.
Most of the people who became my "friend" on Facebook were not my friends, well not the sense that I see friends. I found it difficult to see students I once taught, as friends and though they were now adults with families of their own I still remembered them as the boys and girls I had taught.
And then there were the friends I had known when I was growing up and realising how little we now had in common, those communications too just fizzled out to nothing. I hated looking at the ever increasing list of "friends" and knowing that it was all a big lie. These people and I were now worlds apart and Facebook had created an artificial channel to join us and it just was not working for me.
Friendship means a lot more to me than the artificial and superficial relationship that Facebook had created for people. This made me feel uncomfortable but I persevered because I thought that since so many people were doing it I concluded that I was reading too much into things and needed to lighten up.
Trying to make it real
I tried to make my experience on Facebook a little more meaningful by sharing my hubs from HubPages and the articles I wrote for my website blog believing that to be a way to reconnect with these "friends" in Facebook. I started posting hubs written by writers I admire and I also shared movie clips and music to reflect the kind of person I am, the things I stand for and the way I think.
None of this made any difference and I began to see Facebook as something that just did not fit me or my lifestyle. It was a constant reminder of how little I now had in common with the people in my friend list and how uninterested they were in getting to know me.
The only people I felt were my friends on Facebook were the ones who really are my friends and with whom I am in regular contact and had been before I ever joined Facebook.
The penny had finally dropped!
If I hadn't joined Facebook I would never have appreciated the power it exerted over our children. I began to notice how Facebook corrodes the values of our children and undermines the foundations upon which normal relationships and friendships are built.
I saw how children were using Facebook as a means to express feelings they would never express to the face of another child. Facebook created a shield behind which a child felt safe to say whatever s/he felt like saying with total disregard for the feelings of others. I saw things written by children to each other that horrified me and it worried me that my children would come to view this as the norm.
I held a family meeting and I explained my worries about Facebook to my children. I told them that Facebook was no different to any other addiction and like alcohol people do and say things when intoxicated that they would never dream of saying and doing when sober. I explained how their written expression had gone down hill and their spelling had gone to the dogs. More importantly I explained how it was affecting their ability and willingness to communicate with their friends unless through Facebook. They had to learn to develop real relationships without hiding behind a monitor and keyboard and to do so before they completely forget how to. I explained how they were leaving themselves open to the bullying that was regularly taking place and I urged them to reconsider how they were using Facebook. The choice was ultimately their own but I was glad that I had made them think.
I myself deleted my Facebook account and set up two separate accounts, one for my business through which I share professional articles written by me and those whose values and ethos reflect my own and a private account just for family and very close friends.
Deleting Facebook is not as easy as you think!
It is a very simple procedure to "deactivate" your Facebook account and you can easily do that from account settings. The problem with this is that your account and all your information is just temporarily hidden waiting your return. You can reactivate your account at any time and it is as if you had never left.
Even as you try to deactivate your account, Facebook answers all the reasons you give to deactivate in an attempt to change your mind and they do a pretty good job of that.
However, to completely delete your Facebook account you have to jump through some hoops because Facebook does not make it easy. If it is as difficult as this now to delete I can't imagine what it will be like in the future when people try to delete their accounts.
Here is a link to a trusted site called WikiHow that will bring you through the steps to delete your Facebook account. Please note that even after doing this you must not go near your account for at least two weeks or the deletion process may be undone and you will have to start all over again. This is the hard part for the children because they will be tempted to peek during this two week period and that is what Facebook counts on. You will need to explain this to your children.
The children seemed to have taken what I said on board and are not using it as much as they used to. My wife and I are a lot happier now with our new approach to this tool which we have started to use for our own benefit rather than it using us any more! here is link to our Setanta Hypnotherapy Clinic Fan Page on Facebook so you can see how we do it.
Choose your freedom
For the more visually orientated among you following is video clip from YouTube that brings you though the whole procedure of deleting your Facebook account permanently.
Freedom is a choice and nobody can make that choice for you but why give it away so easily!
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