For One Woman, Facebook Went From Exciting To 'Coldhearted.' So She Quit06:50
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Apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks on a smartphone. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
Apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks on a smartphone. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

The #deletefacebook hashtag continues to trend on another social media platform, Twitter. So what is it like to truly disconnect from Facebook?

Writer Ezinne Ukoha (@nilegirl) started using Facebook in 2009 and stopped using it in 2016. And says she has no regrets.

"At first it was exciting and then it became actually kind of coldhearted," Ukoha tells Here & Now's Robin Young. "I felt even more disconnected, 'cause I'm thinking to myself, 'Is this really the kind of relationship I want to have with people that I care about?' "

Interview Highlights

On joining Facebook

"I was really excited because I'm from Nigeria. I'm an American-born Nigerian, so I'm Nigerian-American. And most of my relatives are still in Nigeria. A lot of my — I went to boarding school in Nigeria, and after we graduated, we all just kind of went our separate ways and were basically all over the place. Like they say, Nigerians, you can find us anywhere. And so when I found out that there was a platform where you can literally reconnect with people from your past, I obviously had to check it out. And I was excited about those connections that I was able to sort of revive over time."

On why she stopped

"I had a great handle on it in the beginning. It was more simplified, obviously. You know, especially being Nigerian — Nigeria, there's, you know, not always good things happening, so you can always connect with your loved ones and find out instantly how they're doing and weathering the latest upheavals. But then, as it started to expand and grow, at first it was exciting, and then it became actually kind of coldhearted. You know, I just, I felt even more disconnected.

"I was going through some hard times professionally and it just seemed as if, you connect with these people and they are technically your friends, but it just didn't seem as if those connections were authentic. And, you know, they were only talking about what was happening to them, you know, the good things, and I was sort of on the outside trying to figure out how to, I guess, navigate that and still keep my sanity. And so that was the problem. It just became more than what I signed up for. I used to actually dread opening up my page because I had over a hundred friend requests, and then, when you think you've taken care of one issue, when you go to your settings tab, another issue pops up. It just seemed like I was losing control over a space that was supposedly mine. It wasn't my space anymore. It really belonged to Facebook."

"As it started to expand and grow, at first it was exciting, and then it became actually kind of coldhearted."

Ezinne Ukoha

On how she felt after deactivating

"I felt so much better. Instantly, I felt better. For one thing, I felt like I found myself again, and I didn't feel the pressure of having to be one person when I'm there and another person when I'm not there, meaning Facebook. And, also, it forced me to reach out to the people that really mean something to me, by calling them up. So it was just great to kind of start afresh."

On what it's like being off of Facebook

"I mean, for me, you realize that you can't — you're not in the thick of it anymore. And some of my classmates from boarding school passed away — well, not some. A couple passed away, and I didn't know until I found out because maybe like three or four friends are on Instagram, and they had mentioned it and that's how I found out. It really did drive a deeper wedge between me and the people that I had reconnected with."

On the recent news about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

"For one thing, I'm not surprised, because I was always a very — I was always kind of paranoid because I'm naturally a private person. But when I first started on Facebook, I did get overly excited and the headiness of it forced me to post a lot of my personal pictures. And so I think that is what Facebook, you know, the people behind Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, that's what they wanted. They wanted people to just let their guard down and get really sucked into this thing. And of course they're going to use it. They're going to use it to figure out our behavioral patterns and to give us notices about friendship days, and, 'Oh, it's been two years since you've been friends with this person,' to make you feel like this is being done for your benefit, when it's really being done to drive us crazy and to make us less human, I think. I think a lot of us are more bot-like now, than human, to be honest. We're bots."

This segment aired on March 28, 2018.

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