I did it. I took the plunge. I bit the bullet. I belled the cat.
I deleted my facebook account.
The reasons for doing so are numerous. But at the bottom of them all is the desire to take control of my own life. Now I have fewer worries about distractions to my concentration. Fewer worries about editing privacy settings to anything I post or have posted in the past. Fewer demands to take good-looking photographs at every place I go to. Fewer worries that I would miss commenting on sharp status updates of my friends. Fewer misgivings if enough people would "like" the thing I share on my wall. Fewer demands to post "happy birthday, have fun" messages; or if I miss doing that, to post "belated birthday wishes" messages.
In retrospect, I am not missing much out of my facebook account. I don't miss the annoying ticker on the top-right corner, that updates the digital life of my friends in real time. I don't miss their digital gossip on awkward photographs. I don't miss keeping up to the trend on funny videos over the web. I do miss certain events like friends' birthdays, weddings or graduation ceremonies. But seriously, I doubt if I would compensate for my physical absence by a mere textual presence on their facebook walls.
Life goes on. It is surprising how much the stylesheets of facebook have carved my subconscious. Every time I open my browser window, my fingers involuntarily type 'fa..". Every time I get annoyed by somebody on the streets, my mind automatically keeps framing a pithy status update that summarizes the situation. Every time I read an interesting bit of news, I suffer the urge of sharing it on facebook, made all the more easy by the ubiquitous "share" and "like" buttons. But these withdrawal symptoms will subside at some point, and new forms of digital addiction will take over my life.
I still kept my google+ account. This is not because I trust Google any more than Facebook on my privacy. But this is simply because of how little keeps happening on google+.
The few people I follow hardly update their streams (excellent job folks) and it feels so snug and comfy realizing that there is nothing more you need to do to acknowledge the digital happenings of the day. Also for all its faults, google+ (and Picasa) has an excellent interface for sharing photographs. So I will keep using google+ until I find time to install my own web-server, probably powering it through Diaspora* or similar open-source software.
What else in life ? I have a greater desire to know people beyond all the appearances they put up in day-to-day lives. Can digital technology make it easier for us in finding deeper connections with one another ? I will try to explore this angle. One idea I have is to take portraits of people whenever I visit a new city. I will request them that I would take their portraits for my personal travelogue (I carry a pretty neat digital camera), and may be pepper them with a few questions that come to my mind.
"What is your favorite place in this city ?"
"What is your dream destination ? "
"From which countries do your best friends come from ?"
I can record their responses on my smartphone. I will send their portrait photographs later on email. The problem is this requires a lot more guts to do than just silently ogling at the passers by. So I have not yet managed to do this. But at some point, I will try to make this a habit.