Quitting the five tech giants: Could you really flee Facebook?

Facebook. These days, all you ever see is bad news. But even though Facebook is almost as much societal disease as social network, could you let go? Today, we find out.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

Welcome to Day 2 of our series about quitting the Big Five. Yesterday, we looked at whether I could pass up on all that Amazon has to offer. Today, it's Facebook.

The full series:

I'm basing my series on a project running on Gizmodo. Reporter Kashmir Hill attempted to go cold turkey from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, one each week.

I'm not as brave as Ms. Hill. I'm not stopping any services. Instead, each day this week, I'm looking at one of the Big Five to let you know how far I think I could go in quitting (or how locked in I am).

Fleeing Facebook

When Kashmir cut Facebook out for a week, she discovered she missed it. I would not miss Facebook. I don't like Facebook. Back before I started writing for ZDNet, I actually quit Facebook for a while.

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One of my very gentle, very liberal friends commented on something I posted. Then, one of my very aggressive, very militant conservative friends decided to eviscerate my gentle friend. Since I have friends on both sides of the crazy, I decided it was best to just stay away.

But as I became more of a public voice, reaching out on Facebook became necessary. Columnists, these days, rely on social media for both outreach and conversation with our audiences. Today, I use Facebook (along with Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram) to talk to my readers and viewers.

I could cut out Facebook, but I'd lose a vital connection to my audience.

Ever since I got back onto Facebook, I've treated it as a public outreach vehicle, rather than a source of discussion for family and friends. I very rarely use Facebook Messenger.

On the other hand, I've just moved into a small town. The primary way folks in town communicate is via a Facebook group. When I want to find out where to get good gyros, I turn to that Facebook group. When I need a plumber, an electrician, or to coordinate Small Dog Sunday at the local dog park, I turn to that Facebook group.

If I eliminated Facebook, I'd lose the link to the town before I've really had a chance to get to know folks. That would be unfortunate.

Could I quit?

So, could I quit Facebook? Yes, undoubtedly. It would have some negative side effects with my readers and I'd lose access to some of the pulse of my town, but that's about all. I long ago stopped using Facebook as a social tool for friends and family.

What about you? Could you flee Facebook and dump all your "friends"? Let us know what you'd miss and what you couldn't give up. Could you really survive without all the gossip and hearsay? Let us know in the comments below.

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You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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