Friday, August 10, 2012

On Facebook denialism

I don't have a Facebook page.

It's funny; these days, I feel like I should bracket that statement in some way. "Hi, my (internet) name is ZucchiniBikini. I am a Facebook denier." Confessing my lack of Facebookiness feels a bit odd, almost transgressive. I mean, everyone's on Facebook, right? My Mum is, my neighbour is, my kid's teachers are, my co-workers, friends, cousins, schoolmates from thirty years ago. Right at this very minute, admitting to not being on Facebook sounds almost scary, given how much is being made of the lack of online presence of the two mass-shooters (in the USA and Europe). Their lack of Facebook is being touted as evidence of disconnection, psychopathy, rather than a variant on the typical Western approach to life.

It's not that I'm a social media hater (says she, on her blog :-) I love Twitter deeply and I'm on it almost daily; I splash around in Pinterest and StumbleUpon from time to time; and I'm an avid blog reader and commenter. I used to run several Yahoo! groups, and if I was an iPhone user I'd be all over Instagram. I have a Google+ account (although it's so buggy I'm rarely ever there).

So why not the giant granddaddy of them all? Why don't I Facebook?

I used to. I had a Facebook page, under my real name (which is, indeed, Kathy, but with other bits in it as well) where I showcased pictures, commented on things, posted status updates that were every bit as futile as anyone else's. I liked it ... sort of. I definitely liked the connecting part, catching up with people I hadn't seen for a while, rebuilding old acquaintanceships that way.

Then, in 2010, I had a bit of a social media watershed. I decided to ditch Facebook altogether, split my blogging world into two blogs (this one public, my older blog, Zucchinis in Bikinis, private) and make Twitter my main SM channel going forward.

I did this for a whole bunch of reasons, some coherent, some instinctive. I actually wrote a post on Zucchinis in Bikinis about my reasons, couched as a Dear John letter to Facebook:

Well, here's the thing. It's not me, Facebook. It's you.

You are full of snakepits of misogyny, prejudice and general old-fashioned nastiness.

You are always and ever more irritatingly changing your layout and profile page views, and I like each new incarnation less than the one before it.

You are overrun with add-on games and apps, all of which hold less than zero interest for me and which fill up my timeline with Farmville and Mafia Wars shite that I could not care less about.

You are bad - worryingly bad - at privacy. I don't think you understand what it means or why it matters. You really struggle with boundaries, don't you?

In order to get any great value from you, I have to spend LOADS of time with you. I need to visit you daily or more often, I need to interact a lot, in order to feel any sense of the alleged community and connection that you think you're all about. This, dear, makes you, in a word, needy. I have no time for needy in my life right now, or possibly ever.

You, or rather your advertisers, are only interested in me as a potential consumer, so my data provides you with a rich (and free) source of market research that I have little or no way of even seeing, let alone controlling.

More than two years later, I've never regretted my decision, or felt any urgent pull back to the Book, despite an increasing chorus of voices wanting me to justify my absence. I think the reasons I advanced in 2010 are still valid - this week's snafu over a disgusting and offensive page that Facebook refused to take down is more evidence, if any were needed, that the snakepits are alive and well (and breeding).

I know that it makes me a bit weird, not having Facebook. I know it means I miss out on news of people I would like to keep up with. I know that I almost certainly lose blog traffic through it.

But on this point, right now, I'm standing firm. It's not for me, and I am really OK with that.


  1. Hi
    Your post is very interesting. I've been thinking of deleting my Facebook account. The only reson I haven't is I'm part of two local groups which organize all their activity in Facebook. If I left Facebook I would need to leave those groups too.

  2. Facebook's settings and options have got heaps better, so a few of those points above don't apply so much now. But the scary thing I am seeing is the major-league school bullying happening via Facebook. This is stories direct-from-horse's-mouth concerning police involvement in teenage bullying, and also shocking stories direct from the school I work at.

    I wouldn't want any kid I know ever getting a FB account, yet they are really excluded socially if they're not on it. I doubt I'll let mine on it when the time comes. If they have nice friends, they may even communicate like real people, in real life!