After a couple years of oscillating between loving and hating Facebook, I deactivated it again over six months ago. I’ve done this before for short periods of time, but this time, it is for good. A couple people have been pestering me to explain why, so I decided to take the time to write it out.
This isn’t a call for others to give up their Facebook – this is a personal philosophy. 🙂 I know people who are very careful about the time and energy they invest in FB and I respect them for being able to balance it so well. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for most people. And I have to admit, I have the best of both worlds. I am very happy sans Facebook, but if there is something I really, really want to see (new pictures of my niece, for instance), I can get on the Mister’s Facebook to view them. So I’m not fully sans Facebook. Nevertheless, here are the main reasons that I am staying off Facebook. I tried to write carefully, staying far away from “ranting”, so I hope you’ll take the time to read without prejudice. 🙂
Facebook is creepy. And I don’t trust Mark Zuckerberg. (Ok, I really will try not to rant now!) FB links to all your social contacts, your phone (with smart phones this means they have your location as well), pictures of you posted by anyone, your educational institution, your job, etc, etc. Even if you are careful about your security settings, there is simply too much information on there.
I am extra careful about personal information because my husband is in the Air Force. There is always the chance that personal information could be used against him – or against our family when Caleb is deployed. Of course, this will probably never happen – but I’m not really willing to take the chance.
This view about personal security naturally raises the question of why I have a blog. Put succinctly, I monitor everything on my blog. Unlike Facebook (where others can tag pictures, leave information, post on my wall, send private messages), I am the only one who writes on my blog aside from a few commenters. There have been many times when I have left details out of a blog post (or not written the post at all) because of OpSec (that’s the fancy AF word for being careful about what information you give out about yourself). Additionally, I can delete my blog and everything would be erased whereas FB only allows you to “deactivate” – all of your information is still there which means it could be accessed. Of course, there IS still information about us on my blog – I’m not denying that. But I like being more in control of my blog and limiting the amount of information/pictures that are on it.
If we are honest with ourselves, FB puts us on a fast track to relational laziness. With virtually no effort (and no need to respond), I can get updates about several hundred people in a matter of minutes. When I had FB, it was easy to simply collect information about people and act like I knew them. I want to live an intentional life, especially when it comes to my relationships with other people, and FB was not helping that.
Instead of calling a friend for an update, it was far to easy to go check their FB and think that I “caught up” with them. If someone posted that they were having a bad day, I could either ignore it or write a quick note on their status. Does that really make a difference in their life?? Sadly, I doubt it. Even as an RA in college, I had to work at this. It was a cop-out for me to write a message on their FB instead of walking down the hall, knocking on their door and actually taking time to care.
I am connected to far fewer people without FB. Sometimes that means that it takes me a couple days or so to hear news that everyone else already heard. That’s okay, though. I hope that it makes me a lot more intentional about calling/emailing/texting/writing the people close to me than simply skimming the surface with everyone. And I really appreciate the friends who have chosen to stay in touch – it shows that they value our friendship above convenience. And shouldn’t we always value people above convenience? Of course, FB is certainly not the only way that this happens. But I noticed in my life that FB was a major contributor to my unintentionally.
I read an article recently that said that we are the most connected society and also the most lonely society. Isn’t that sad? It is as though we each sit in front of a computer in an endless cycle of typing and reading just waiting for someone to reach out to us. But no one reaches out because they are busy doing the same thing. We are connected to a whole network of people almost 24/7, yet we still feel alone. FB gives a false sense of intimacy. We fool ourselves into thinking we “know” someone and are connected to them, but are we really? Do THEY feel like we are connected to them?
3. Levels of Friendship
I was a chronic “friend deleter” when I had FB. I tried to keep my “friends” to a short list, but I still had almost two hundred. In my perfect world, I could have a FB that only my immediate family and a couple close friends knew about. But once you’re on there, it’s all over. People “friend” you and sometimes they get upset if you don’t respond (ask me how I know!!). 😉
With FB everyone is a “friend”. I argue that this is unnatural. In real life, different people have access to different amounts of information about me based on our relationship. For instance, when a significant personal event happens, it is unnatural to announce to all of your “friends” at the same time. For instance, when our baby arrives, we’re calling his grandparents first. Then his aunts and uncles. And then move to great-grandparents and our close friends.
Oh wait. I forgot to mention the most important step: we are going to savor those first few moments with our little guy. Our first thoughts are NOT going to be telling people or putting pictures on FB. I really don’t like when personal events happen with the noses of 500 FB friends pressed up against the glass of my life. Some things are meant to be personal. Meant to be savored. Meant to be shared slowly with loved ones first.
Of course at some point the news about our baby will go on FB…. But there’s no rush. We have REAL lives to live, not simply virtual ones.
So there you have it: the main reasons I gave up FB and continue to stand by that decision. I could have gone into much more detail. Trust me, I have had many a rant against FB and have been known to call it narcissistic and voyeuristic (I stick by those descriptors, by the way). But I wanted to avoid a tirade and simply explain. Hope that it made you think and encouraged you to use FB with more intentionality. 🙂