After Facebook’s most recent privacy kerfuffles — can you believe users were able to read each other’s private chats? — it’s once again become fashionable to say you’re going to quit the social network.
Engadget founder Peter Rojas, who says he’s “tired of not having real control over what I’m sharing,” did it. So did VC and professional know-it-all Paul Kedrosky. So did that one guy in your office with the thick-rimmed glasses who says he prefers to “tweet.” And so did I.
Yup. I don’t have a Facebook account anymore.
So in one day, I have lost around 865 “friends”. That’s the equivalent of two fully packed jumbo jets colliding in mid-air and leaving nobody alive. And based on how neglectingly I used to treat my friends that refused to join FB, I will soon be forgotten by most of them, while they will continue to follow each others’ lives, share their latest photos, send event invitations and work on their virtual farms. I won’t even be able to track some people down outside of Facebook with whom I have been in regular contact (and would like to continue to be), nor will people easily find me who will try to do so. I will miss some people and I will miss some of the features, conceded.
However, I won’t miss how FB was sucking all my time and how it was making me into someone I am not. Plus, I really was having a hard time receiving all the stuff FB so generously showered upon me. Like those infos on what my “friends” had for dinner, or about how a “friend’s” baby just had the first poop of the baby’s life, complete with DSLR-quality pictures of the poop. I am also profoundly, vicariously embarrassed by the oversharing that people constantly engage in. I do not care that you got drunk last night, and I definitely don’t need to see a picture of it. I don’t feel any real sympathy about the fact that you have a cold. And I’m guessing that the cute picture of your baby doing a silly thing that you just mobile-uploaded would’ve been a lot more meaningful if you weren’t distracted by the Facebook posting ritual in the wake of the moment.
It’s sort of funny how everyone’s always complaining about reality TV with some variation of, “Nowadays, people are famous for absolutely nothing.” That same principle is what grosses me out about Facebook — it’s like the Screen People want their turn to be reality stars, and Facebook has granted their wish by providing them with a screen and audience for their very own reality shows. It reminds me of Mike Teavee in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—the kid who loved TV so much that he volunteered to be transmitted through the airwaves into a little tiny TV set. The Screen People love to focus their attention on screens so much that they voluntarily shrink their lives down into little scripted chunks on the Facebook screen.
Our relationship with FB had become a little more than a superficial facade, a carefully altered representation of ourselves. And, for me, it has been totally unexpected that with the ease FB provided in communicating with “friends”, my relationships with my best friends were increasingly becoming shallower. What went wrong? Was it because instead of meeting and talking with friends and family, I had resigned myself to simply liking and commenting on their posts? Maybe.
In short, this is why I refuse to sign up again. Living without Facebook seems to me like the 21st century equivalent of the reclusiveness once sought in the Judean desert, a monastery in Tibet, or in the forests of Massachussetts. I will try to cherish my newly gained mental freedom, my additionally available hours and the fact of no longer being exposed to status messages about what somebody is having for breakfast or watching on TV.
I really think every person deserves a better life – a life of genuine relationships, a life lived every moment without thinking of posting it online. But this is just my humble opinion.
The only drawback is that (lately) Facebook drove quite a lot of visitors to this blog, and part of this traffic is now missing. So if you want to be nice and help out, share this link on your FB page. Thanks!