For 14 years, I was active on Facebook. For the last five of those years, I ran a Facebook group for budget slow travelers in early retirement. Perhaps that was the best thing about Facebook — we helped a lot of people get their footing on how to do this lifestyle.
When I started the group, there was nothing like it: continuous travel on a budget in early retirement without house sitting or a home base. Now there are many similar groups, but they focus on ‘travel hacking’ for airline deals, finding leads on house sitting, etc., and we are not about that type of travel.
Over time, group engagement dropped as other groups started, and as all travel got a slow restart after the pandemic. Running a group kept me on Facebook longer than I otherwise would have used the platform, since I became increasingly disappointed and disgusted with how – generally speaking – Facebook brings out the worst in people.
You know what I’m talking about: how bigots are emboldened, how predators circle prey, how echo chambers distort reality, and how that distortion has made our world a little like the Upside Down in Stranger Things.
I really don’t care to see how much more ‘upside down’ things are going to get in this critical election year through the prism of Facebook with AI expanding, led by algorithms to keep people hooked — and angry. I prefer peace.
I could not be a group administrator if I quit Facebook. So I ‘paused’ the group instead of deleting it, so years of posts would remain visible to members as a resource.
Funny thing: I don’t miss it. Anyone in my life who really wants to connect with me does so through email or WhatsApp or this website. Yes, WhatsApp is owned by Meta, like Facebook and Instagram. But there’s really no getting away from Meta, since billions people use Meta to communicate. Too big to fail.
I didn’t delete my Facebook account — I ‘deactivated’ it so that I could continue using Messenger, since many real-life friends in developing nations use Messenger to communicate. But after about a month of my deactivated Facebook account, Messenger inexplicably stopped working. I reinstalled the app, sent a request for help – nothing worked so I ditched that app, too. My guess: Facebook was trying to get me to ‘log in’, which would ‘reactivate’ my account.
Theo still has active Facebook and Messenger accounts; he’s on those platforms a couple of times a week.
I stopped using Instagram and deleted the app from my phone. I didn’t see a way to ‘deactivate’ that account, and I wasn’t a big user, anyway. Instagram was ridiculous with pushing ads on me – even though I’m not a big consumer as a budget slow traveler in early retirement. Also, I don’t miss seeing posts from accounts I didn’t follow yet was force fed. It was a turn off.
Theo ran the Earth Vagabonds Instagram account for a few years, but he stopped during the pandemic and never started again.
What about other social media? I never got into TikTok, don’t get me started with the mess on X, and I recently started using Blue Sky, but it’s not that often.
Another funny thing: I feel more “open and connected” to the Real World without Facebook.