This week, following a 2 year(?) sort of absence from Facebook I decided to go back to it. I say sort of because I never actually left, I just deleted all my friends. That might seem like a weird thing to do on a social network but previously I’d tried to get off it by suspending my account, but it turned out all you had to do to get back on it was log in. So I decided to make it a bit harder to go back by deleting all my friends. I was a bit concerned at the time that some people I don’t know quite so well may actually have been offended that I “unfriended” them. I think some people take it a bit more seriously than they should, considering that after all, it’s just a website. I kept my account because I was running a fairly busy group, and a member of some other groups, as well as having a page for my business. So I’ve continued to use it quite a bit, just not the way most people do.
There were two reasons for “leaving” in the first place, one was because of privacy concerns but the main one was because I didn’t think it was very good for me. I had become pretty addicted to it, constantly checking to see if anyone had posted anything new and I came to realise that it made me feel like I was in touch with people when actually I wasn’t, at least not in any kind of meaningful way, and as a result actually made me less sociable. The other thing about Facebook is that it can actually make you feel a bit down. Generally people are the best version of themselves online and probably one of the most common type of post on Facebook is “here are some photos of a fun thing I did” and even if you don’t think it consciously, I think there’s only so much of that anyone can look at before feeling left out and a bit rubbish about themselves that they’re having less fun than, apparently, than everyone else they know. My thoughts on the privacy side of things started before anyone had heard of Edward Snowden, several years ago when I went to the cinema to see a documentary called Erasing David about how easy it is for anyone to find out personal information about you by what you put online, and information held about you by companies and organisations. So for that reason, as well as deleting my friends I removed nearly all personal information about myself – interests, location, previous workplaces, schools attended etc.
The reason for going back was that Facebook has become so ubiquitous (I think that’s the right word) that if you’re not on it you get left out of things. That’s not so bad when you see people regularly as you get to hear about things anyway, and not everything that happens is put on Facebook, but partly due to moving house multiple times in the last year I’ve got distinctly out of the loop with most people I know and wanted to re-connect. So I’ve set up a new account just for the friends aspect of the site, the idea being that I will only need to check it when I get an email saying I’ve got an event invite or a message. Whether I can be that restrained and not go back to justifying the term “facecrack”, we shall see.
PS I had no idea I had so much to say about Facebook, quite a long post!