Facebook’s recent outage reminded me that more people I know are dropping it like a bad habit.
People without a Facebook account are like modern day lepers. At best looked at skeptically, at worst actively shunned, they are the new crazy aunt/uncle who shows up only on family holidays smelling vaguely of paint thinner.
But, those incredulous stares they encounter when they utter the words, “I don’t use Facebook,” are slowly becoming less common. I know I’m no longer surprised when I meet someone not on Facebook. It happens to me often enough that I can’t dismiss it as simply anecdote.
Cutting the Facebook Cord
I’m rapidly becoming one of them. Using Facebook for business building is a waste of time. The culture is toxic and my work is controversial enough that the people who would respond to it there would eat up my time with pointless arguments.
And since most of them are my real life friends there are two dynamics at play preventing value creation:
- They aren’t potential customers; as friends they should get my opinions for free.
- Disagreeing with them in public creates a high probability of an ever-escalating hostile environment as everyone chimes in, ensuring someone gets called a “Nazi.”
So, for me, it’s all “puppies and rainbows,” as a good friend says. Facebook is for sharing baby pictures, coordinating social events and the occasional stupid animal video. But, for anything of substance?
Okay, I admit I still have a problem (“Hi, my name is Tom. “Hi Tom.”). I posted my blog about Blade Runner 2049 to Facebook. But, that’s non-controversial. Had I published my blog about Jar Jar Saving Star Wars on Facebook, though, and fahgeddabouddit!
So, watching people who have made the decision to simply end their relationship with Facebook is fascinating. Some do so because they are rightfully fearful of Mr. Creepyberg’s weird need to vacuum up all the data about everyone.
Some realized, like me, early on, that Facebook was heavily skewed towards a particular political agenda. We libertarians identified ages ago that we were being ‘shadow-banned’ by Facebook; ensuring that what we wrote didn’t multiply across Creepyberg’s platform.
Every day during Ron Paul’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012 the value of the platform to the users for real organization happened at a speed they could barely control. The rules for how pages could be promoted changed to block that growth. Then prominent people like Tom Woods realized his traffic was dropping because less than 5% of his followers were getting his posts.
Facebook’s Value Trap
The real problem with Facebook, however, has nothing to do with any of that, no matter how annoying it is. I mean, let’s get serious, we elected Donald Trump despite complete media collusion, social or otherwise.
No the biggest problem with Facebook is it’s all fake intimacy; a pale simulacra of real life interactions with people you are supposed to care about.
But, I don’t care about 99% of the people I went to high school with. I went to school 1100 miles from those people and barely looked back. The people I truly value from that part of my life mostly feel about Facebook the way I do.
That’s what makes them people I value.
They value the value of their closely-held opinions and don’t dilute it by publicly sharing their banality. They realize that being friends is more than dropping political stink bombs in someone’s digital living room and saying, “I dare you to not breathe.”
So, here you are on a platform that is supposed to be all about you and the last thing anyone really wants to be on Facebook is … themselves.
We humans communicate with so much more than words. Almost none of us producing content on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet are ‘good writers.’ And yet, that is primarily how we interact with each other on it.
And words when read, as the news media makes it abundantly clear, take on a life of their own. Context is removed as is nuance, tone, body language and literally everything else that makes up our humanity.
We’re left with a platform designed to keep us perpetually on trial in a court of public opinion with our “friends” as judge and jury. But, most of our Facebook friends are not our friends.
Many are just bitter, triggered assholes we’ve met along the way waiting to take what you said the wrong way to give themselves a momentary hit off the social justice power bong.
Like I said earlier, “puppies and rainbows” and the occasional goat video.
Who’s got the energy for that level of scrutiny anymore? Life is hard enough when your feed that is supposed to connect you with your friends is a shark tank of virtue-signaling smarm.
This is why there is nothing of value on Facebook anymore.
When the curtain is pulled back and we see that it’s nothing more than a big data vacuum to sell you junk you already have or blackmail you with later, it doesn’t seem so crazy that more and more people are leaving it behind.
When I put it that way, the leper colony doesn’t sound so bad.