There are three main reasons that most people can’t just up and leave Facebook, and they all serve to illustrate the extent to which Facebook has altered the landscape of our digital lives. Let’s break them down.
1) Facebook is technologically embedded within a vast web of interconnected third-party apps and social media platforms
You’ve probably heard occasional quips that Twitter humor largely consists of jokes made on Tumblr being shared as screenshots on Facebook, but within this joke is a larger point about how all of our social media platforms interconnect and interact. The web is made up of third-party apps and systems, many of which rely on being fully integrated with your personal Google or Facebook account.
In fact, many mobile and web-based apps actually require you to have a Facebook account — and will accept only a Facebook account — before you can sign up for the app to begin with. Over the years, consumers and other developers have pushed back against this trend, but the truth remains that if you delete your Facebook account, you could immediately lose access to some parts of the internet.
2) For many people, using Facebook regularly is a required part of their job or education
Collective use of the platform by schools and other educational groups means that, just as with third-party app developers, some organizations still require you to have a Facebook account in order to access their information and services. Facebook itself has made inroads into developing technology specifically for school use. Students prepping for college are warned that universities will be watching their social media accounts in order to spot excellent community behavior and social media usage, as well as to pinpoint any red flags.
3) Facebook is, for better and worse, a tangible tie that connects many people to their communities
On Facebook, the many friend networks we’ve made along our paths through life converge, creating a unique kind of emotional infrastructure that’s impossible for some people to fully separate from, because it means cutting off their only remaining ties to parts of their pasts, or to previous places they have lived, or even to some family members and friends. To many of the Facebook users you leave behind, walking away from Facebook will send a message that you don’t want to cultivate ties with them — because for many people, Facebook is the only place those ties can be cultivated.