Well that didn’t take long; less than 48 hours after deactivating I reactivated my bastard Facebook account.
Yes, that’s pathetic, but please hear me out. There were several aspects of Facebook’s insidiousness that I hadn’t considered or had under-estimated. In fact yesterday was a day choc-full of misjudgment.
If you find yourself as fully ensconced in the Fecebook swamp as I, then you may want to consider the following observations before you quit:
- There are people with whom I have a relationship of sorts, yet we’ve never met. Now this is a situation that has existed for centuries (assuming that pen-friends have been around that long), but Facebook makes it all too easy. I have Facebook friends who are friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, and even total strangers who share a single interest. Being able to see, acknowledge, approve, disapprove, or ignore what your contacts say is a surprisingly powerful and pleasurable thing. When you leave Facebook, you lose these people and the limited but significant contact you have with them.
- Old friends. Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch with old friends, even if it is in the most shallow way. Whilst discussing this issue with a friend at work last week, we both agreed that staying friends with someone who you normally couldn’t be bothered to connect with is pointless. But now I completely retract that assertion because even if you simply click “like” on a person’s status updates (if you do truly like them) is better than losing touch. Humans are social creatures, and surely it’s better to stay in touch with the people you like than forget them?
- Facebook only has a “like” button, and no “dislike” button, and I now believe this is a good thing. Criticism is all very well, but it usually dwarfs praise; we’re more likely to send a complaint than a letter of praise. Personally I try to send praise frequently too – but the sad truth is the complaints usually outnumber the praise. So Facebook’s decision to only have a “like” button is interesting and quite a significant move. It helps strengthen relationships – that can’t be bad can it?
- If you want to hate people, the Facebook allows that too! Arguing on Facebook is all too easy, especially for the web amateurs.
- If you really like someone, should you not make more of an effort to contact them properly? No! It’s difficult! And if you really like them then communicating “properly” with them is going to take a lot of time, which no-one has. Clicking “like” now and again when they say something you agree with or sending the occasional comment is surely better than drifting away? There are a lot of people I have “shallow” relationships with on Facebook whom I would willingly give a kidney if needed.
- Most people don’t blog, but they often post things on Facebook. Ostensibly that’s the same thing, but usually anyone can read a blog; unless you’re friends on Facebook, your posts are private. That may suit the majority of Facebook users, but some people actually have interesting and thoughtful things to say! Leaving Facebook means you don’t get to hear them any more.