Every so often in our twenty-first century lives, we become so disenfranchised with contemporary notions of ‘social’, that occasionally we exist those channels. Yes, of course I’m referring to social networks. Usually, we do it dramatically. We announce to the world that we are leaving the space, and that we are never to return.
I believe that this overly dramatic exit occurs because people suddenly feel backed into a corner. All communication happens via social networks; people expect you to be there; and gradually you spend more time online and less time in person. You spend more time casually looking at Facebook than you did as a teenager wasting hours and days in front of the telly. At some point, people realise this, and scream ENOUGH.
Then, of course, there are reasons like interfaces changing and your account security turning into surveillance of you. Early adopters on Twitter were famous for loudly exiting Facebook, and many Facebook-related sites. Then, after a year or two, they (myself included) quietly went back there. They went back there because in one way or another they had to.
In one of those pull-and-push situations, I’ve become wired to Facebook through my veins. This is partially because I have to use the network for work purposes (e.g. I manage social media accounts for businesses and some bands). But also, it is because I am being forced to use it. Businesses force me to contact them on Facebook. Dance schools I attend force me to be on Facebook to receive their updates.
My time has disappeared. I have 24 hours in every single day. Rather than using down time to write notes on projects, brainstorm new ideas, or otherwise put effort into my business, I browse Facebook. It’s the ultimate, no-effort, brainless activity.
Well, it is brainless in the sense that it is passive. It is brainful in the sense that I am easily swayed and find myself feeling dissatisfied with things in general. It’s negative, awful, whiny, and aggravation-making, and I don’t need it.
On the lesser side of things, I intensely dislike being told what to do. I despise the fact that my out-of-hours fun (dancing) requires me to sign up to Facebook. Why wouldn’t it require me to sign up to the website of the dance school? That would make more sense, right? Why are they giving their customers to someone else all the time? Because they are addicted to Facebook? Because it’s easier (read: lazier) to manage a Facebook page instead of their own websites? Nobody actually wants to manage two websites, even though common marketing sense says you go where your customers are.
Also, nobody understands that the two are required, and require particular skills. If you have a successful school, pay someone to manage your site and your social media. Then you’re free to choreograph, dance, do gigs, and all the awesome stuff that people love you for. It should be part of your marketing budget.
The problem is that nobody understands that Facebook is a business. My clients are surprised, always, when I tell them they are giving their customers to Facebook. When it dawns on them, the enormity of this situation also dawns on them. It’s like the surprise that gives… and keeps on giving for a while afterwards.
That business also wants its apps to have access to every single thing that you do on your phone. All of your content. All of your contacts. Everything. I know that some people did read the terms and conditions and go fuck no! But how long will it be until they give in, because the app asks them to update? It asks constantly. Your phone starts to ask you, because it knows updates are available and you haven’t got them. Eventually, the people who resisted forget why they didn’t update it in the first place and just say yes.
Idiots to a man, all of them.
In any case, I have decided to remove Facebook from my life. I replaced a banner image with an explanation, and have deleted it from my smartphone. In doing so, I retained what I need to for work – but that is it. Some groups I moved to Hootsuite so I don’t miss key information, but I’m not going to be checking Facebook outside a work context, ever.
So the biggest question, is why am I even writing about this? Why not just exit quietly, and not mention it? Isn’t there a philosophical and logical problem behind this entire post?
The reason is simple. At some point, someone will wonder why. Let this be your explanation.