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Hi,

It’s been a week or so since I pressed the delete button on my Facebook account. I’m someone who is interested in people and I’m aware that through deleting it, there’s a strong risk that I won’t hear from those people again.

The thing is…. I’m just not friends with Facebook.

It started about a year ago or so when I heard about how the company had allowed Cambridge Analytica to behave as they did. This bubbled within the IT industry like a swamp gas. Like most niche press markets, I guess it took a while for it to hit the big time… and when it hit, woo, did it hit.

As the great and the good met, pressed their flesh (that’s called a handshake on this planet, I believe), certain members of the company were called to give evidence and explain themselves. Sometimes, though, they didn’t, because – well, meh – we’re a multinational, so F you.

I did – as you would no doubt expect – some navel-gazing about my relationship with said company. What am I getting out of this? What would life be like without it? What am I giving up to use it? 

I was reminded of talking to an old school friend I’d not see in decades (he now lives in London), and when I asked him if he used Facebook, he said: “No, I’ve done some work for them and I don’t like what they use your data for.” Thing is, T isn’t a tin-foil-hat / conspiracy nut type. To be honest with you, I brushed off his comments (not verbally) thinking that some folk don’t like some software companies. Yet, that experience of his did not leave my mind but swam deep within like the shadow of a shark. Odd in a way that that line wasn’t a predator, but something that needed to surface, and was something I needed to understand.

That day, I uninstalled the app from my phone and put in more privacy trackers on my browsers. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I have an Android smartphone, a Google account, and I’m using Blogger (owned by Google). I’m fully aware that my footprints around t’interwebz are being collected, measured, and ads (those that get through uBlock anyway) are being aimed squarely at yours truly. Sure, using DuckDuckGo instead helps, but there’s always cookies. Indeed, there’s even Google Surveys which occasionally pop up on my phone and ask about my life. I’m finding it less interesting to engage on those, even if I enjoy my newsfeed telling me about certain sci-fi shows, lifestyle posts, and politics that match my views. Hello, bias confirmation. 🙂

But, with Facebook, it felt a little more insidious and after removing the app, I found myself checking my phone a lot less. Previously I would scroll through what people were up to, maybe post, or re-share things I’d read that I’d found interesting. So, time given back. BTW, I should point out that I now use the Chameleons’ Forum more, so maybe I’ve swapped one network for another. The thing is with that, is that I do see these people. It’s not a replacement for friends, but something that helps me talk to them. There’s no tracking or ads, either.

I had also got into a trap – and perhaps it’s by design – that I was checking for who liked what I’d put. Now, admittedly, this is very much my problem and I’m not judging anyone who uses Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s your life, you do as you wish. I can only talk about me here…. here being this free-to-use-because-of-adverts platform. 🙂

The like thing, at least for me, felt as if the higher the count, the more valid or relatable that post was. But really, does that count? What does that actually mean? Sure, it’s a tap to the pleasure circuits in the brain, but is this doing me any good? Once a doubt had started to form, and once I was out of the app, I became less and less interested in it.

One other thing I noticed was that previously I would take *ahem* amusing photos and share them, or create a meme about the day. Now, I would talk to others in the office, or in my family about things. I began to take the route that not everything needed to be shared. Not only that but not everything needed to be done right now. The thrill of the immediate, if you will. I see it – or, more accurately – hear it in the radio news. The analysis, the what-happens-next pieces; but I wonder, is some news better slow rather than constant?

The most difficult part was knowing that I would, in some odd way, be turning my back on friends. Yet, Facebook is a platform to serve ads. I am the product and I’m trading my privacy – and possibly my family’s privacy – for that service of sharing photos or “keeping in touch”. Plus, there was the whole political scandal, which had now expanded to include what had happened around advertising and Brexit.

I was conscious of the phrase that you only have so many friends. Many folk on my ‘friends’ list were people I’d met a few times, maybe worked with, but, and if I’m brutal about it, I didn’t see day to day and our interactions were only very light through Facebook. Hell, I don’t email or text these folk. I know this may sound coldhearted, but what exactly is that relationship doing? I felt that those in my life I would keep in contact with, I’d do by talking, emailing, or texting. Something a bit more ‘real’ if you will, than tapping an emoji.

Part of me feels that the whole friends thing is – and perhaps I was massively naive previously – just a mechanism to keep you stuck in that system. Emotion blackmail that pulls at the heartstrings, but really, only exists to keep you as a source for selling you sh** you probably don’t need.

So yeah, I don’t regret deleting my account. I’m glad of GDPR and the rights we have to have our data removed from a company. I don’t really miss the platform, even if I know that some folk I won’t hear from again. But, I feel…. I feel like I’ve got more time on my hands. I find myself with more patience, with wanting the immediate reward less (I’m reading more), and, I feel that when I chose to be social – like with the forum or email – then it’s more on my terms.

You may, of course, feel different, and by no means do I look down on anyone who likes Facebook. Wee Man recently joined Instagram and a few mates are on Twitter. I, however, am not…. and, perhaps oddly for someone who used social media quite a bit, I’m enjoying not using it.

Take care,
Lynn

8 Comments

  1. I do miss you on Facebook but I understand your motives. Mind you, i never ever do any kind of online interactive stuff on my phone, especially not social media, and that's because I do not trust these companies one jot. I'm particularly wary of mixing my official male side with my female side given the prejudices and dangers that we can face. Sue x

    1. Thanks Sue. There are folk I now see less of, but, well, you've read the post already. 🙂

      Two folk from Chameleons were very careful in using different browsers and not any app. However, both shut down their accounts when Facebook suggested they 'friend' their other identies. As you say, given the prejudice from some areas, I can see how people would want to keep accounts apart.

  2. I've never been on Facebook myself[*] – in large part because I could never be bothered signing up for it, and I don't think I've missed out on anything by avoiding it (and pretty much every other form of social media for that matter). That said, like various other things most people have but I also haven't ever bothered getting myself (such as a mobile phone or driver's licence), there's an annoying assumption that everyone has a Facebook page, and it can be tiring explaining to people that, no, you're one of those weirdos who doesn't. 🙂

    Two things that have made me glad to have avoided social media so far are the fact that it's apparently yet another avenue for malware and scams; and the creepy, decidedly Orwellian, desire a lot of employers apparently have to have access to their workers' Facebook pages and other social media accounts (funnily enough, that's one of those abuses of power and violations of privacy that the loony libertarian crowd probably doesn't have a problem with! It's only bad when the government does it, after all!).

    As someone who still goes and sees a lot of live music, one thing that annoys me is how a lot of bands now only seem to advertise their upcoming gigs on their Facebook pages. This can make it hard to find out what's on – there have been quite a few shows I've only found out about once they've been and gone. 🙁 At least, though, I can still access most bands' Facebook pages without having actually signed up for a Facebook account myself. Nothing worse than trying to visit someone's Facebook page and getting one of those annoying "Hi friend. It seems you're not on Facebook blah blah blah"-type messages. There was actually a venue here that only advertised shows via their Facebook page, and refused to let you access said page if you weren't signed up yourself, which seemed really stupid from a purely commercial perspective. (I heard that that venue recently shut down, and can't say I've been shedding any tears over its closure. Really, there were a lot of things about it I didn't like.)

    *Though, as far as I know, everyone else in my immediate family has a Facebook page.

    1. Hello fellow weirdo. 🙂 Yeah, the bands thing is tricky. A workmate signed up to Twitter just to follow her favourite acts. Twitter is something I sort of understand, but I also just don't "get" if that makes sense.

      Your comment about power and companies made me think of a line that a comedian rolled out. Sadly, I can't remember the chap's name! (Senior moment?) Anyway, he said that if a government had rolled out the idea of checking in, reporting on your preferences, talking about brands/politics; then a few decades ago, there would have been uproar. Oddly, with a company somehow it's all fine! 😀

  3. It's a bit different for me, because my online life and "real" life are almost entirely separate. That's not because my online life is secret or anything. My accounts are all public so it's easy enough for anyone to find me online if they want to. They just are separate.

    So, friends I see week in week out, I'm not linked to online at all. Possibly it's because we're all quite "old" (50+), so we haven't grown up with a social media presence which we share with everyone. I don't even know whether they have a social media presence.

    Whereas online friends – people I only see irl occasionally (if ever) – I'd have virtually no contact with them at all if I left FB, and I wouldn't like that, so I'll be staying there.

    As for FB intrusion, I have everything possible turned off, so I don't really notice it. Adblock cuts out a lot of stuff anyway. And I don't have annoying things pop up on my mobile phone because I don't have a mobile phone.

    1. There is all of that. That there are folk who you wouldn't see and I think I get that. I'm not judging anyone for using social media, I think think I've fallen out of favour with it.

      I'm with you on the adblocking and other things. In not seeing such ads, I do wonder if some of the more nefarious things that go on sort of passed me by. Perhaps that's a good thing.

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