Jim Duffy: Here's the real reason why we should quit Facebook

Jim Duffy has decided to delete his Facebook account '“ and it's not about the Cambridge Analytica affair.
Indian commuters pass a poster advertising Facebook's 'Live What You Love' campaign in Bangalore (Picture: AFP/Getty)Indian commuters pass a poster advertising Facebook's 'Live What You Love' campaign in Bangalore (Picture: AFP/Getty)
Indian commuters pass a poster advertising Facebook's 'Live What You Love' campaign in Bangalore (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Apparently Mark Zuckerberg, the head honcho at Facebook has amassed a net worth of around $71 billion. I’m delighted for him. It just shows you what can be achieved in the USA in the tech world.

Mr Zed will no doubt go on to do great things. He will enter the fantasy world of the philanthropist, who believes he is doing great things for humanity, but in fact is only doing it for himself and his legacy on this earth. Nevertheless, the achievement of Zuckerberg, his team and his advisors is phenomenal – a bodacious performance in creating and generating enormous wealth from nothing.

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But, now that I have idolised him and his creation, it is time for me to leave him and his organisation. Yes, I’m done thumbing “likes” and posting videos of my dog. The time has come for me to switch off Mr Zed and spend more time in reality.

It’s been a long time coming and I almost feel cathartic as I get ready to cleanse myself of Facebook on all my devices. When I open up my Mac and my iPhone, I will no longer see that well-kent iconic logo “F” screaming out at me to hit it and open up my digital world. I will no longer get to feel those dopamine rushes as I “like” others’ posts. And this I will miss. I do like to see what so many great people are doing. But, it has all become too much and I need a break from this genre of social media.

It was recently pointed out to me that I have hundreds of friends on my Facebook account. It reminds me of a cartoon I once saw, where the deceased was excited at all his “friends” that would attend his funeral, but alas, his graveside was pretty empty. How ironic? I value the time that people put into Facebook and my account, but I’m spending hours each week flicking through my stream to keep up with it all. Time that I could instead spend thinking about “now” and being in the moment with myself and those close to me. Yes, it’s time for a big change.

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Facebook keep all sorts of data on me. They know where I am, what friends I may like to friend request and what groups I may like to join. They get to know which restaurants I like, the food I like, the drams I prefer. After all, I post it all out there. I’ve spoken to people I trust about this decision and they all feel the same way. Facebook is taking time out of their lives, simply to post miscellaneous and meaningless waffle that keeps their profile front and centre and attracts some “likes”. They feel that they are a slave to the machine as they require to allocate time to be “seen” online. Whether they will go through with it and actually switch it off is another story.

More and more of us are also becoming alive to our mental health. It’s great that mental health is now a talked-about subject with the stigma attached to it reducing all the time. But, Facebook, by its own admission, knows fine well that social media can be bad for people’s mental health. On a blogpost by Facebook itself, it admitted that spending time on Facebook “passively consuming information” can leave people “feeling worse”. However it added that the solution is to engage and interact more. Really?

Like you, I see kids, teenagers and adults glued to their social media missing out on what is actually taking place around them. Just look around on any rush-hour train or bus. Millions of people every day sitting in coffee shops sucking the wifi dry as they “thumb” up and down, living their lives in an alternate reality. I see my own daughters obsessively engrossed in Facebook and it genuinely makes me sad. They are hooked on keeping up with Jones’s posting where they are out, the opulence of the clubs they are in, the size of their designer burgers and the spectrum of cocktails they have ordered. This is not life, but a manufactured existence that is not helping mental health or indeed, I would argue, strengthening the bonds in our society. Fake news is everywhere…

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So, I’m switching myself off. I’m deleting my account with Facebook – and I decided to do this before the Cambridge Analytica story broke. I’m ostracising my profile from all my buddies, whom I know will seek me out elsewhere, if they wish. But, hopefully I am doing them a favour also in two distinct ways.

Firstly, they no longer have to “like” anything I post. So, I am assisting them with their drug habit. No dopamine hit as a result of me. Secondly, I am drawing a line in the sand and setting a precedent for others to follow, showing them that it can be done.

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Imagine if you will. No need to interrogate your news feed every few hours. Just look up and see what is in front of you and not emblazoned on a smartphone screen. Watch people and your environs as it happens in real life. No more gazing at a screen for fulfilment. A new life waits me and you – if you give it a go.

I’m not sure Mark Zuckerberg will care a jot that I have left his online platform. And I can’t see his cronies running into his office and shouting, “Hey dude, Jim Duffy has deleted his account”. No, he won’t have a Scooby-Doo who I am or what I want. But one thing is for sure, I’m freeing up more “me time” for me and for the real world. And I cannot wait to share it with you. Hopefully, you will “like” my new approach.