A Dutch nonprofit, Just B.V., is behind the latest effort to get people to stop using Facebook. The campaign, "99 Days of Freedom," was inspired by the recent Facebook A/B test that suppressed some posts to see if a more upbeat or downbeat News Feed prompted users to post more positive or negative updates of their own.
The campaign wants you to commit to dumping Facebook for 99 days, long enough to determine whether your emotions undergo any kind of metamorphosis from not using the social network. The campaign website is host to an image you can use to replace your profile picture; there's also a personalized countdown you can share on Facebook.
That's right, thanks to this campaign, you can free yourself from the shackles of likes, shares, and comments. (You didn't know you were enslaved? Yeah, me neither.) At least this campaign isn't asking me to quit Facebook altogether. A group of activists angered by Facebook's privacy policies proclaimed May 31, 2010 Quit Facebook Day, prompting 31,000 users to delete their accounts. In case you're math challenged, that's .002% of Facebook's current population of active users.
Some counted that as a victory because the publicity it ginned up contributed to Mark Zuckerberg's decision to hold an impromptu press event to address privacy. My interpretation is that 99.9% of Facebook users didn't want to quit.
But wait; there's more. There was a 2011 campaign designed to convince moms to get off Facebook, one of several lower-key efforts to motivate people to abandon the site. Then there are sites dedicated to quitting, likea this one (which has not been updated since mid-2013), not to mention a plethora of quit-Facebook posts like this, this, this, and this.
To all these, I have a simple request:
Please shut up. You all remind me of my mother telling me which friends I shouldn't hang out with. ("They're such a bad influence.") Every time you launch one of these campaigns or write one of this posts, it makes me want to spend an extra two or three minutes a day on Facebook. Defiance!
I get that you people don't like Facebook. You don't like the privacy issues, the way its users are the product, the cluttered design, the attempt to be all things to all people, the curated News Feed, Mark Zuckerberg's face, blah, blah, blah.
I just don't care what bothers you about Facebook. Trust me, if it ever starts to bother me, I'm perfectly capable of deciding to drop it all by myself. I don't mind activists and journalists reporting on Facebook's foibles so I can be better informed to make my own decisions, but I don't need some sanctimonious, holier-than-thou social media expert to tell me what to do, nor will a campaign influence me.
I have my reasons for using Facebook (mainly that it's the one social network that hosts just about everyone I know) and I'm not troubled by the privacy issues that have everyone else's knickers in a bunch. Among my many family members, friends, and professional colleagues, there are probably hundreds of reasons for sticking with Facebook despite its problems. For what it's worth, I also stick with Mad Men despite a couple of weak seasons, Taco Bell despite the fact that it's not very good for me, and paper notepads despite the fact that there are more efficient ways to take notes. In fact, I have to make decisions about what to stick with by weighing benefits and detriments all the time.
Nothing's perfect, but based on the purposes it serves and my awareness of the drawbacks, it's my decision to make.
There are "quit" campaigns that have value, of course, notably the many efforts to get people to quit smoking.
But quit Facebook? You quit Facebook if you hate it that much. I won't try to stop you and I sure as hell won't mount a "stay on Facebook" campaign. But once you're gone, I'm sure the rest of us will get by just fine without you.