I quit Facebook recently.

Which is to say I am still on Facebook because you can’t really quit Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has side-loaded it directly into our brains without our permission where it happily mines our personal traumas for ad revenue while soothing pop-ups jump in front of our childhood memories and assure us the Facebook values our privacy.

Do you know how many times I have Googled variations on “How to leave Facebook without really leaving Facebook?”

Do you know how many people out there are trying to figure out that exact same thing?

It can’t be done.

I don’t like Facebook. I have never liked it. The platform basically offers nothing that isn’t provided by the users themselves. It’s the most boring of the social media sites out there. Its algorithms are annoying, making you see the same posts over and over instead of the ones you’d actually like to see. It’s underhanded and shady about views and exposure for my business pages. It spreads disinformation, skewed our recent elections, violated user privacy in a zillion different ways and is generally evil, awful and bad. No one should be using Facebook.

And yet we do because it’s where everyone is.

I deleted the Facebook app over a month ago. (I’ve never used or installed Messenger which, given the recent spying revelations now seems like it was a very good idea on my part). I took Facebook off my browser speed dial, took it out of the rotation of sites I go to when I want to procrastinate, and replaced its shortcut with a link to a reading app so instead, I can go read a nice book. If I really need to use it, I used the web app on my phone which is such a nightmare to use I never linger.

But I can’t really leave the site entirely. Not really. 

Because I still have to run my business pages and they force you to maintain a profile to be able to administrate those.

Because there are some work things my employers run through Facebook groups and I have to pop in sometimes to deal with those.

Because my daughter’s school uses Facebook for most of their official communication.

Because there are some people I just don’t have a way of contacting outside of Facebook.

And so I still log in every once in a while just to update my business page or check something and I see the number of notifications in the double digits and I just shudder. (My mom has never looked at her notifications and before this always made me twitchy and, like, “How can you live this way with over 100+ unread notifications blinking at you like this??” but now I get it. I totally get it. There are so many now that I just don’t want to even attempt to deal with any of them so the little red number just blares angrily at me and I completely ignore it. It’s somewhat freeing.)

I never told anyone that I left Facebook, never did that “flounce” goodbye type announcement post that we all know because I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave for real. I was going to still have to maintain an account for all the reasons above so what would be the point in announcing that I was leaving when I wasn’t really? Apparently, Facebook doesn’t actually let you delete your account even if I had wanted to and I’ve had friends get caught in that endless loop of deletion and reactivation again and again. So I left Facebook without really leaving Facebook and I felt like that would be that.

Ah, but Facebook is a social space and leaving without telling anyone caused a social ripple all the same.

The problem with everyone being on Facebook is that they all assume you are too. She’s mad at me because, what do you mean I don’t know she had the baby already, she shared a billion pictures??? And he’s offended because I asked after his girlfriend, the one he specifically changed his relationship status with to “it’s complicated.” And my best friend’s having a complex because I didn’t post something supportive on her latest selfie like I usually do and now she thinks she looks like a troll, that’s it, isn’t it? 

Feelings get hurt, drama gets started simply because everyone else feels like they are broadcasting things out to the world and just don’t realize that it’s a world that no longer includes you. And you find yourself in trouble because even though all you did was stop checking a public message board, your friends interpret it as a personal slight. Especially when I do sometimes log in for work or business page reasons and randomly like a post or two… because then it’s a bigger slight that I didn’t hit the button on theirs.

And, frankly, it’s lonely. I like pictures of my friend’s babies. I would have liked to known what was up with him and his girlfriend because I actually hated her and was rooting for him to get back together that barista. You get invested in the stories of your friend’s lives because you care about them. And when 95% of my human interaction for the day is with two small children, I sort of live for the rare adult interaction even if it’s just a meaningless exchange on someone’s selfie. And I hate when I find out later this friend had this bad health scare or that this other friend had this good news and I didn’t know to reach out to either of them because Facebook is the loop and I was out of it.

Leaving Facebook is not just FOMO (that’s short for “Fear Of Missing Out”, mom) as it is cutting yourself off from an entire network of your friends.

Which is a big part of the problem for me. Unlike just about every social network out there that I use predominantly for business and networking, Facebook is the only one I use for my actual real life friends. Sure, I’ve got the occasional networking connection or internet friend on there but I keep my friend list small specifically because I limit it only to my real life family and friends from school and life. So even though I hate the site, hate the user experience, hate the evil policies and would honestly rather use just about any other site out there, I find myself missing, not Facebook itself, but the community on there. My people.

Which is the real problem with quitting Facebook. Until everyone else does, leaving feels like going against the grain. You know you’re doing the right thing but everyone’s weirdly annoyed with you about it so it sure doesn’t feel right.

Facebook itself is no great shakes. Its only product is us, the community, which it has done nothing to earn or deserve to keep. And yet, we’re all still there and so it continues on. And, frankly, I can see no end in sight because it’s become so integrated into our lives that quitting is unthinkable to so many people.

The sentiment I keep coming back to is: Why can’t they just stop being evil? It would make everything so much simpler. Just, like, knock it off, you guys. It would really solve the whole problem.

But, until then, I’ve quit Facebook.

In the sense that I am still on there and none of us can ever really leave Facebook and will be stuck on there forever.