I have just closed my Facebook account. I've been on Facebook since 2007 (which was fairly early for Australians), but a growing irritation with it made me finally pull the plug. The reasons were many and varied.
Firstly, Facebook was primarily a social thing for me - I liked keeping up with Friends and Family Overseas and Interstate and their growing families and life changes. Unfortunately, I've noticed that people post less and less 'personal' stuff. Some of this could be that growing children don't want things put on Facebook (my oldest, who is 8, doesn't like me reporting funny things he's said anymore to anyone, let alone an audience of Facebook friends), but I think that largely Facebook has become a community of people watching each other, and wary of posting things about themselves, especially when you are potentially sending your photos out to "friends" numbering in their many hundreds. Who wants to put a photo of themselves up in a bikini for their former Boss to look at? So Facebook has, over the past year and a bit, become for me one long stream of people asking for Charitable donations for marathons and other things they were doing (fine), the reposting of inflammatory Political propaganda (I read the paper, I don't need to see this elsewhere), and an awful lot of targeted Facebook advertising (recently a targeted ad advertised to me "find mature love", which really proved to me that Facebook employs mostly 18 year olds to program their algorithms. Last time I checked 39 was not regarded as being exceptionally aged).
So a few things triggered the disconnect. Firstly around a month ago Facebook recommended a new "friend" for me. Generally these are based on algorithms that mean the number of friends in common you have on Facebook, the higher the chance you know each other in real life and will want to be friends. Fine. Except that this person is someone I've only had contact with in a Work capacity - we have no friends in common, and I've only communicated with her on my computer via my work email (not my email used to open the Facebook account). So that would suggest that Facebook has been spying on me.
A growing sense of unease over that was then compounded by a few other things - the mindless reposting of stuff without actually fact checking it prior to posting. A friend posted something to her wall via a Facebook page about "Politicians gave themselves an 11% pay rise and Nurses got 0-1%". Terrible, of course. But I thought they were having pay freezes in the Australian Parliament, I could recognise none of the Politicians in the picture, and thought the Nurses were dressed differently to Australian Nurses. Checking the page it was on it showed it to be a UK source. But by reposting this, others also then reposted it and so misinformation is spread - they obviously thought that was happening in Australia (rather than just showing solidarity for the UK nurses).
So last night, after logging on I was irate to find that several websites I'd googled earlier in the day had ads appearing in my Facebook feed. I'm sick of it! While google Ads tend to follow you around the internet (currently, I'm being tortured by a Carolina Herrera Botanical print skirt I could not afford, and which is sold out, turning up again and again in my Google Ads on various websites), I find it a little disconcerting to find 4 companies popping up in my Facebook feed that I'd completely separately been looking at earlier in the day.
The fact that it was irritating me more than giving me any form of pleasure made me decide to pull the pin.
More tea please via
What this has done, is to make me assess how we all connect in the world (or don't, really). There was this quite pertinent link a friend posted on Facebook (prior to me shutting it down), that resonated with me…. how many times have you gone out to Dinner or a bar or pub and seen groups of people or a couple that spend more time interacting with their phones than with each other? A lot of people spend a lot of time watching what others do via Facebook (or blogs or instagram) and feeling bad about their lives as a consequence. The green eyed monster rears its head that they don't get a family holiday for 6 weeks in Europe, have children winning every award at School, have children at all, are sitting at home on a Saturday night when all their friends are at the same party… I just wonder why so many people continue to participate in something that is poison to them. No one can really know what is going on in someone's life just by seeing a brief post on Facebook, it's a completely filtered medium.
via Marie C's Pinterest feed
I was reminded of this recently when busily (!) pinning away on Pinterest, my favourite time waster. I follow Marie-Chantal's Pinterest feed (Crown Princess of Greece), and she was posting quotes. They were to do with positive thinking, removing negativity in your life, having no fear of failure etc . It seems that if a Crown Princess, daughter of a Duty Free Billionaire, and a woman who has 4 Nannies for her 4 children, flies in Private Jets and wears Couture feels the need to post inspirational quotes that suggest the fairytale is not real, then those of us who are lesser mortals should bear in mind that our friends and wider social circle have their own struggles and that just off camera there is a pile of overdue bills to be paid, or a sick child (or a really sick child), or that indeed we are all just trying to keep our heads above water, and that holds true no matter how privileged the position is that a person occupies on our globe.
So farewell Facebook, I've decided to catch up with my friends in real life instead.
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