Once again, I find myself contemplating a breakup with a Big Tech company. There's a lot to consider, but the overwhelming question I ask myself is "Am I willing to actually go through with it?" It can take a lot of time and heartache to get to "yes". Can you get there too?
The first time for me was Facebook in 2011. Even back then it was pretty clear that enshittification (even though the phrase hadn't been coined yet) was happening to the platform. And it wasn't just a small group of disgruntled, insightful users. Users en masse noticed and disliked the frequent UI changes. We griped about the ever-changing, byzantine system of account settings that made controlling your privacy nearly impossible. We implored our friends and relatives to stop posting every piece of misinformation that had been debunked by Snopes. We noticed when Facebook got busted selling our PII to other parties without our consent. We screamed when they opted us in to features we wanted no part of.
But Facebook never stopped being scornful towards us. So I quit. I tried to convince others to quit, too. But no one that I know ever left. Not a single person. They're all still there more than a dozen years later, getting shit upon by Facebook all the while.
I thought things would be different the second time around. I quit Twitter for good in November 2022, having landed on Mastodon earlier that year. Lots of other Twitter users joined me on Mastodon, but most are inactive and I suspect most of them are still on Twitter. In spite of all that's happened and everything the unhinged billionaire endorses and tolerates, people just can't bring themselves to leave.
I quit Google too. But I don't expect anyone else will. And there's one more Big Tech company I anticipate quitting soon--I'll post something about that when the time comes.
My mindset has changed a bit since I quit my first Big Tech platform back in 2011. I used to think that if people were educated and understood how they were being abused they might leave. I also had some delusions of grandeur that if enough people complained, Big Tech would stop abusing us. I guess I was pretty naive about it all.
But some things haven't changed: my frustration and disappointment are as great as ever. I'm saddened that people I respect and care deeply about make the choice to stay behind and accept the abuse. I'm disheartened that Big Tech can continue to do the things they do unabated.
Maybe you're different? If you're trying to get to "yes", ask me anything. I'll do what I can to help. You deserve better.
We all do.