Search This Blog

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

For many years, I resisted the temptation to join Facebook. I have always seen it as some sort of superficial, public popularity contest. Some folks use Facebook as a political platform, espousing their political views daily. Some use Facebook to pass along jokes and witty sayings, which I must admit, I like. Others post you tube videos. Sometimes people use Facebook as a means of trying to shame someone, usually a former love interest. I find that conduct, even if it's shadowy and veiled, as reprehensible. Some people are lonely. Others form groups or play games. Some people are going through hard times and need help and support. Others use Facebook to glean information and play detective. Some people pretend to have this giant network of thousands of friends. Like trophies on a wall. Look everyone, I am this wildly popular person and I only do fun, exciting things. Here's a picture of me somewhere eating a giant plate of nachos.

So those things happen. I am not a fan of many of those things but that is all part of the Facebook experience. So in one of those wishy, washy moments I have from time to time...I eventually caved in about 6 years ago. My official excuse follows.

My father had moved to the outskirts of civilization on the North Dakota, Montana border and his cell phone wouldn't work. My only means of communication with him was either by email or through Facebook. I could write him a text message but he would only receive it when his phone traveled through an area with coverage. He still had one of those old cellphones where you had to hit a key three times to get to the next letter you wanted to use. It was easiest to simply leave a message for him on Facebook. That was 6 years ago. Dad has since moved, switched cell phone providers, and never uses Facebook now. However, a strange thing happened. I became re-acquainted with my extended family who are all scattered throughout the west. I also became re-acquainted with a few of my old, childhood friends.

Without Facebook, none of that would have happened. So that's the love part. I can find out family news, leave messages for members of our family, and communicate with old friends such as Bonnie J and Joe H. My best friend, Doug, still refuses to join. He is his own man. That is one of the reasons he is my best friend. Doug has no problem giving anyone or anything the finger. We have been friends since we were 15. The truth is, I envy Doug. Doug stays in great shape, works hard, has 5 acres in Hawaii, and plays in the surf. That's a long way from windy, cold winters in eastern Idaho. I have to actually pick up the phone and call him. He hates Facebook.

I don't really mind the vacation and food photos people post. I don't even mind the political rants of my liberal friends although in all honesty, I had to block or remove a few of them including a couple of groups. We once had a great group where we could buy and sell guns- but Facebook banned us. So much for free speech. Speech is only free when the aristocracy allows it. I don't like the snooping and I don't like being tracked by Google and seeing ads for things I have recently purchased.

So Facebook has no problem tracking and snooping on you because they feel entitled to do so. I also detest falling for some bullshit new story only to find out its untrue especially after you share it. It can be embarrassing and I am now in the habit of checking virtually every pronouncement that I intend to share. I also don't like my identity getting hacked which seems to happen a couple times a year.

Facebook could allow you to opt out of tracking but they won't. They pretend like they aren't doing it. I have always wondered if I file a grievance with the FCC about that- what their response might be. I mean does anyone regulate the conduct of Facebook on behalf of consumers?

A few of my friends have created entirely false profiles under pen names- that way nobody can spy on them unless they have given up their alter identity to those folks. Pretty clever. Keeps the boss from snooping on you.

So I tolerate these things because I have to. But I reserve the right to pull the plug- like so many of my friends already have.

I kind of see Facebook as this giant fad that like bell bottom jeans and platform shoes will one day find itself in the dust bin of history. The problem Facebook has- is that people will innovate and find ways to remove Facebook from their lives. Facebook reminds me of other commercial fads that eventually commit suicide. Uber immediately comes to mind. People will innovate and find networking solutions that are peer to peer- they will eliminate these parasitic hosts who demand too much and return very little. The Uber business model will destroy itself.

I have seen at least 10 to 15 of my friends remove themselves from Facebook. I constantly toy with the idea but I like the idea of keeping up with my extended family and staying in touch with old friends. If it weren't for those reasons, I'd remove myself too.

I think on the final scorecard, Facebook has been more of a positive than a negative. But only by the slimmest of margins. Oh yes, and I reserve the right to change my mind. I can go from love to hate in about 15 seconds.