Quitting Facebook

Screenshot 2019-11-22 at 9.17.49 PMI just quit Facebook today. It wasn’t that big a part of my life but now that I’ve quit it I realize how much of my cyborg life it was. Just like my phone. I might not use it that much but it is always there. And now FB no longer is, not the scores of people from my adolescent years, not the students and colleagues from my 30s, not my more recent friends from greater DC and Boston, not my current philosophy colleagues from all over the world. Facebook made it possible for me to have all these great connections, just as it made it possible for it to scoop up private data from 31 percent of the global population. Yes, 31 percent. And then monetize us, harvest us, market to us, capture us for whatever they want. So I decided finally, after much prodding from a few friends, to say, no. No more. I have found an alternative to Facebook that promises not to sell my data, not to algorithmize my content, to just let me share my news with people I like. Maybe this is a fantasy that somehow I can keep my personal stuff to myself. But I’m okay with better being a good alternative to unacceptable.

What is so curious is that so many of my otherwise principled friends and colleagues are willing to scoop up the benefits of Facebook and turn a blind eye to the harm it is doing.

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.


  1. OK, I’ll bite: I suspect that some of us just don’t feel that “our data” is this precious thing that needs to be protected from the prying eyes of corporations. I honestly don’t care that Facebook knows that I like basketball or that I’ve been looking into buying a tablet. This is just nothing approaching a “harm” that I could even bring myself to worry about, especially in comparison to the harms that other corporations routinely perpetrate on people. And then you have to weigh this against the massive personal good that Facebook can bring us, especially those of us who really value social connection and who love to be able to stay in touch with so many old friends (and re-connect with memories of them).

    Now maybe Facebook is harming *civic* life, and that’s another thing entirely. But moving to a non-advertised social media platform won’t change the effects that social media is having on civic life.

  2. I am really against the excessive data harvesting and the way people get very personal on Facebook. It’s one thing for Amazon and such to track your info, it’s another thing for Facebook that also refuses to get involved in monitoring political ads and Russian interference. As well, it is a huge mental drain to scroll through so much personal informatiuon, nonsense, and pretty pictures as time literally passes out of your hands. On other sites, your intention to be there seems more purposeful. You know why you are there. Facebook seems more engineered to distract you out of your purpose for being there, and after a while, I don’t know if anyone ever sits back and thinks honestly about why they are really there.

    Anything we use on a daily basis or give a certain number of our precous hours and time to, should be critically analyzed.

    Facebook is set up to get your hooked and addicted – and it does, if you look at how often the people you know are on it, and how often they begin to post things just to post things. They think the things they are posting are special, but in reality, it is all just. passing stream of digital content in a massive ball of disorder, but yet perfectly engineered by the world-dominating and politcal intentions of whatever Zuckerberg really has himself involved in by now. I decided, after learning more and more how it uses our information and how it seeks to manipulate and divide us politically as well, that I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.

    As well, as a single woman, Facebook has caused a lot of issues in my dating life that I did not have to contend with to such an extent before. It has also caused my family to think they are in touch with me or know what is going on in my life, r’ather than actually care to call me (when my dog was dying) and interact personally. When a major family rift happened, I impulsively deleted my step-mother off of my page and then that caused all kinds of other problems. I didn’t want her judging my life on Facebook and I didn’t want to have to go to the trouble of hiding certian posts from a select group of people. In short, Facebook also became a data content managing issue – for less personal reasons as well – like not wanting to see certain posts, or this person’s posts. It’s logistical data nonsense!

    As well, my social connections have gotten better and deeper when I am not on Facebook watching people “stunt” who I spend no real time with in real life. My producitivity is better and I feel less stressed with all that information scrambling my concentration (and probably my brain.)I just don’t want to be part of contributing to the massive uncotrolled stream of time-wasting bytes going by. Yes, people care about one another on there, but for me, it has become more hassle than it is worth and has allowed access of me to people I really don’t want to know anymore after a while.

    As a highly sensitive and empathic person, it has not added, by any general sense of having peace of mind, to have peoples’ lives in my head, who in real life, have no great connection to mine anymore or never did. And then I feel uptight and kind of guilty if I unfollow people, don’t wish certain people a happy birthday, and have all these people on my feed who I don’t interact with, but then suddenly one will pop up and accuse me of posting something that was too long to read, because no one any longer has the intellectual capacity or paitence to readl something of value – say by Aldous Huxley, who predicted we might all be distracted and hypnotized by things like Facebook.

    So, I am waiting for my file to be downloaded and then I will be done.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: