Recently I ended a long term relationship with the social media machine, Facebook.
And I’m relieved.
For most of my 24 years of my life my internet time and devotion has been to peddling ourselves; thoughts, ideas, information, pictures, relationships statuses, graduating class and so much more. For a company that finds you enjoying or actively using their platform, irrelevant, because people can’t stop themselves from using it. It’s a platform that hasn’t improved anybodies presence online and actively makes people unhappy. As it pushes for status quo and idealised images of granduer.
But there was conforming and being “liked” in it. A lot of it.
In fact there was so much conforming pressure from it, peoples entire social structures began depending on it. Mine as well. We knew it wasn’t good for us but we couldn’t break away. As the yearbook approach of facebook has sufficiently entangled itself with our social environments. For example communication with distant friends, keeping in contact, something that’s been around since the invention of mail became a way for facebook to trap me in its system. It was then that I realised I had to cut myself off from it while I could. Here was a chance to be someone who could sleep at night knowing that my social well being is not tied to a media giant that sells user data to the highest bidder and catalogues users entire identities and lives online, wrapping itself up in your life.
So I no longer use Facebook. If you’re interested in platforms that do social media well, as far as I can gather Twitter is the only place of some sense of traditional freedom online. There’s still numerous simple ways to communicate and Facebook need not be a tether to you feeling accepted and ‘present’ in the social world.
I feel free, unplugged and as though I have more control over what people see about me in the world.
Now in order to ‘see’ me and my life, it’s either what I choose to share or you’ve actually become close to me personally…in person.
Now time to expand on my little reference/quick blurb as to why I’ve quit and to properly explain how I feel about Facebook and the social media machine.
There’s a lot of different schools of thought on social media in general as well as facebook that basically boils down to these trains of thought grouped as; Social media is evil and detaches us from each other / Social media is okay but facebook is an evil company that sells your data to advertisers / social media is good but there are some issues. While yes these are oversimplifications, I’m going to explain in a concise manner just how I feel about social media sites (as hypocritical as its going to sound) and Facebook.
Is Social Media Evil?
No. It’s that simple. I’m not someone who subscribes to the idea that social media is detaching us from our humanity or our communities. Yes, I’ll concede it can do that to people but there are always outliers in these sort of things. There’s no set response or use or outcome, people will always use and be effected by social media in numerous different ways. Some barely are ‘out there’ while others are engaged and known by thousands the world over without any kind of ‘celebrity’ and some of course have made minor ‘celebrity’ status, even making careers out of it. There are always the fringes of extreme isolating behaviour because people live their lives online and detach themselves from reality.
But to reiterate clearly. Social Media creates problems and does effect people and society in many ways, bad and good. But I am of the opinion that social media has created a boundless community for people, now someone from Siberia and Florida can connect and share their passion of Retro PS2 games or whatever takes their fancy. It has connected us to causes, friends and the world alike. It just needs to be kept an eye on for the people who misuse it so to speak.
Is Facebook Evil Then?
No. Well not utterly. This is not so simple as the last. A good and proper case can be made for Facebooks shady company behaviour and the way it operates with the millions of users information it has at its disposal. While I’m not the most educated on the topic I do recall that Zuccerberg has even been taken to supreme court for issues regarding user data. That is certainly not a good thing to know about the site you flood your entire life into.
You may argue that it’s not something you put your whole life into. But I disagree, name one other social media site that asks or near enough demands for your marital status, your education, your workplace, your contacts and so on. Very few if any others out right demand it. They might be optional things you can share and perhaps it is semi-optional on facebook but my problem with Facebook and why I left is as follows; It has always been and becoming an ever present yearbook-esque tool for everyone’s lives. I remember when I used to think of Facebook as essentially the only way I could remember or keep up with people I have known, even though I hardly posted it way almost a tab on my own life as I updated it with any progress or achievements as well as keeping a tab on other peoples.
“You didn’t have to” I hear you cry but then why did I have it if I didn’t post anything or even when I did it was once in a blue moon. Perhaps this experience is mine alone but I do believe this is a sentiment most people share from conversations I have had about it. It feels as though you NEED Facebook. To be accepted, to be a part of the social world online and in your local community, its almost the first place people go when they want to get to know you or contact you outside of passing meetings or your workplace. Why? Because they know that’s where YOU are. None of this getting to know someone happens on a human level, instead its “add them on facebook” and a passing glance at your profile quickly tells them everything they need to know because it is all there.
You almost don’t even realise how much of your personal details are on Facebook. in contrast to say Twitter where its a picture and a birthday if you even choose to share that. Same with Instagram and even less on snapchat. Facebook entangled itself with our social circles and became an essential, must be on platform to conform, to be known, to be a part of what is going on. Then to make that even worse, it is of course well known now that Facebook takes that information and sells it to advertisers. The meme about facebook listening to your conversations is not too far from the truth, the actuality is that Facebook learns what you like, want and talk about so that advertisers can put direct advertisements straight in your face. This gets darker when you think about the political capabilities of this.
Theres a lot more I could possibly say but this is already verging on essay length. To summarise, I think social media is a tool for good mostly and while facebook is not satan I don’t like how entangled into your personal life and essential is is becoming. I didn’t like that I felt used by it rather than me using it, so I quit and I don’t see any reason to return. I’m not campaigning for you to do the same, facebook might be everything you want it to be aside from some shady business from Zuccerberg but I hope this make you think about your use of it and your social medias in general.