I have just spent the last few hours going through my 2.2 gigabyte file that Facebook hold on me. Every emoji, message, update, contact and…. well everything Facebook related is stored here, the results were pretty shocking.
The immense amount of data that Facebook holds on me is shocking to say the least. Looking back I can see that 11 years ago when I joined the network I viewed the world in a very different way to how I do now. So scrolling back through my history had a few embarrassing moments, but also a few moments and things I definitely did not do or agree too.
Firstly this is not some jedi magic trick that only certain people can do. It is actually very simple in you want your own data. You need to log on to a desktop (or the desktop site) and go to the downward arrow in the top right corner:
You then click the settings button from this list and at the bottom there is a tab saying “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” You hit this and follow the instructions and Facebook will email the data over to you once it is available.
The file for me was huge, it had 2.2 gigabytes of data and included:
126 files I had uploaded: Documents, CV’s etc. This would have been a lot higher, but I now use an online document service.
1165 keywords that advertisers had used to grab my attention. Some of the interesting ones include God, Illusion, Freemind, Evolution and Gautama Buddha.
56 apps installed of which, many I do not remember installing. This of course included the famous app “Pimp My Friends”.
All the numbers from my phone and perhaps even stranger, the contact list of my daughter. Lots of names with pretty emojis next to them.
Every event I have been invited to or attended.
Every friend I have ever added, those who have added me, my followers and followees. All of this was in order of when we connected on Facebook, so could scroll back to the start of Facebook time and see my first friends/followers.
Every photo, every poke, every time and location I logged in. This of course included the time I updated my name change in December 1969 (I was born in 1987).
I have 2508 voice messages, 79 GIFS, 215 stickers, 4322 photo messages, 404 video messages and 3763 separate conversations with people or groups that I have been involved in, such as “Stressed, Depressed and Garlic Bread Obsessed, and we all hate Luke”. There was 1000+ things I have clicked the like button for and groups I have joined, many of which I have no affinity and connection too. I could not find the link to see how many messages I had sent and received total. This is possibly a good thing as I would have probably had a heart attack at the amount of time I have wasted.
The timeline is perhaps the most scary, due to the fact we change so much through our lives. At the start I was talking about getting drunk, gambling and some unmentionables that I won’t share. Now it’s all green juice, fuck the government and meditation.
All in all, it was an interesting search and some of the takeaways I gained were:
What A Waste Of Time
I have been thinking about the amount of time I have personally spent on Facebook and what extra things could have been achieved in this time. I could of easily learned a language, a subject or spent it in deep meditation. A book (or trilogy) could have been written, nature could have been visited or I could have spent this time with my son. I cannot go back into the past and do not wish to dwell there, but the amount of time spent scrolling, Facebook stalking and speaking could definitely have been better placed.
Some Things I Could Not Control
I have no idea how my daughters contact list, ended up in my contacts. There were some things I found that were not done by myself or with my permission. There were some very strange groups, group chats and the like which ended up in my file. These are things that are stored about me which I cannot control. The other aspect is that of advertising and all the words used to grab my attention. It may seem harmless, but someone using a person’s religious beliefs and moral code to sell them stuff really is not okay.
It is not all bad and not all time was wasted, there are some amazing connections that have been made through Facebook. People I would have never met without this platform have shown up and many of them play an active day to day part in my life to this moment. There is the other side of this, and that is you can end up connecting with people you would usually not, and you really don’t get the full measure of them as you are speaking through a screen. It can become a place in which you are bombarded with questions and the only way to escape is to unplug.
I recently took a one week detox from Facebook and found it to be a really helpful experience. It made me reassess the way I use the platform. The fact is, Facebook has been created to be addictive and to keep us plugged in for the most amount of time possible. This is what raises the revenues of Facebook and is done so through intelligent manipulation of our brain chemistry. This is turn results in more ads being shown and Facebook becoming a more powerful corporate entity. Facebook has become a personal database for the last 11 years of my life and anyone with the knowhow could access all this personal and private data. For me this is a little shocking, and has made me reassess the way I will be using this platform in the future.
The other option is to just hit the delete button, and while I may do this soon, I will hang around just a little longer. Much love, Luke