Around this time last year, I wrote an article about the trials and tribulations of just deactivating your Facebook account. It's now been over 365 days, and I have no regrets — other than the fact that I still haven't completely de-shackled myself from Zuckerberg's platform.
Technically, I'm still a "Facebook user" because Messenger is still the most-used messaging app on my phone. Through my efforts to remove Facebook from my life, the sad fact is that the majority of my family, friends, and community groups still actively use Facebook, and Messenger is the easiest way to stay connected in those circles.
Letting go of the fear of missing out
A concern most people must have when leaving Facebook is that your social circle will seemingly instantly evaporate. There's something comforting about staying in the loop with the news feeds delivering constant updates from friends and family. I was worried that by de-platforming myself, I'd end up missing out on invitations to important events or simply lose touch with people I care about.
Of course, that wasn't true at all — all it meant was that there needed to be some extra effort made to reach out and stay connected. My core group of friends hasn't abandoned me, and I've got more reasons to reach out to folks I haven't heard from in a while. Given how disposable social media has become, this has proven to be a change for good.
I'm enjoying having to actually catch up with people on an individual basis to learn what's new in their lives.
I find myself using my phone for calls to check in with friends and family, and when I catch up with someone for the first time in a long time, it feels substantial. I actually get to find out what's new in their life without already knowing everything because they've posted about it on Facebook, and I'm sure it makes them feel that much more appreciated as my friend. Most importantly, I've found myself to be more mindful when I'm hanging out with people to put my phone away and spend less time mindlessly staring at my phone when I'm alone.
I still recommend everyone delete the Facebook app from their phone, even if you have no intention of ever leaving Facebook for good. Even as a short term experiment, it should at least make you more mindful of the number of times you check in on Facebook during the day. Best case scenario, you realize you don't need Facebook at all, in which case delete it before you second guess your decision.
RCS could eventually replace Messenger, but it's still a complete mess
For me to completely delete my Facebook account, I first need to find a full-featured messaging alternative. I've got to give Facebook credit — even Messenger Lite offers a better suite of features than anything else I've tried. The main Messenger features I need are group chats that just work, support for instant media sharing, and built-in support for some fun stuff like GIFs. That's almost exactly what RCS is supposed to offer, but my God, the RCS rollout has been so infuriatingly slow and confusing that my patience is wearing thin.
Living in Canada, I feel like most of the fault lies with our wireless carriers. Canadian carriers have been super inconsistent with how they've communicated the rollout of RCS with customers and there's still so much confusion around which carriers support which phones that support RCS, and whether it all works the same with folks connected via different carriers. It's an absolute nightmare for the tech-savvy, and still an abstract concept for most of the general public.
We'd also desperately need affirmation from Apple for some kind of cross-platform support for RCS with iMessage. Alternatively, Apple could just make everyone's life easier and release a version of iMessage for Android, but I'm not going to hold my breath for that to happen.
I'm also not holding my breath for RCS to become a viable option in Canada anytime soon. The technology appears ready, and I'm sure I could get it up and running on a phone for myself, but the problem is getting all my friends and family to adopt the new standard, too. That's why it's important for Google and the Canadian wireless carriers to implement RCS properly and educate the public on how to get things set up — and I have no faith in that happening anytime soon.
Until then, I guess I'm stuck using Facebook Messenger for the foreseeable future.