Updated 3/20/18: The recent Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal is yet another example of a broader pattern of Facebook’s reckless handling of private user data. Cambridge Analytica mined personal user information for use in the 2016 presidential campaign. If this is news to you, I highly suggest catching up on this groundbreaking development.
Recent reports show that Facebook’s privacy controls haven’t been effective, drawing scrutiny from users, regulators, and even Facebook’s own employees. People are leaving in droves, using the hashtag #DeleteFacebook. If this isn’t reason enough to delete your account, I don’t know what is. I will also be co-hosting a podcast episode next week where we will cover this incident in exceptional detail.
Chances are high you probably don’t give a damn when a “friend” leaves Facebook. Nobody wants a paragraph-long explanation. Nobody wants to read an official statement. Nobody wants to gloss over some humdrum justification for a supposedly “drastic” decision. Did you know there are unspoken rules to properly leave social media? Salty.
The more time I waste on Facebook (and as insensitive as this may sound), I become increasingly convinced that we are getting… dumber. For the most part, I just see a bunch of people pseudo-communicating in a language that bears more resemblance to what cavemen sounded like than proper English vernacular.
Nobody talks these days. We care more about “likes” than conversations or experiences. We slouch over tiny screens and whittle away at overpriced pieces of plastic, instead of having meaningful interactions with the people around us. We spend more money on devices that become obsolete in twelve months than people we see every day. I may be incredibly dense, but I am honest—and that’s just not the way I want to live my life anymore.
Facebook in particular has become nothing but a cesspool of political extremists, unfunny memes, questionable “news,” and status updates from people I haven’t bothered to “unfriend.” By the way, can you believe that word made it into the dictionary? It was Oxford’s word of the year in 2009.
Don’t even get me started on the algorithm behind the “news feed.” Facebook has denounced the claims that it only surfaces content from about 25 of one’s friends, yet people have still noticed changes. Users are feeling like they are losing control of what they see. Local governments, news outlets, even police departments have seen obvious differences. There’s also the Russian meddling, privacy concerns, and irritating advertisements that can be difficult to block.
It’s no easy feat–there are countless services that connect to Facebook. Fitness trackers, Spotify, sites with social media comment/login functions, and so on. In 2012, 24.3% of the top 10,000 websites in the world had Facebook integration, and there’s no doubt that number has grown dramatically. And when you visit one of those sites, you also provide Facebook with a plethora of personal information and past browsing habits.
I realize that I will lose a valuable communication tool. I realize I will lose any sort of marketing presence I’ve established, raise questions about my legitimacy/popularity/etc, and may lose touch with extended family or friends. There may be some people who think that something has gone awry in my digital life (I’m quite well, actually!), and some may think that I’ll just be back in a couple of weeks. A few will entirely cease contact, and maybe even turn down requests to meet in person. I probably won’t know what is going on in other people’s lives, or see those neat vacation/baby/wedding photos everyone is talking about. (Send pics!)
But there’s an even longer list of things I’ve realized I missed out on, because I was too busy wasting my time on social media.
Maybe I’ll reactivate my account if someone needs to validate my online existence. Maybe. But I won’t be back after that.
Consider this your invitation to join the dark side. It’s quiet—and we have cookies.