Facebook, Get Outta My Pants

[tweetmeme source=”sarahockler” only_single=false]For the past few months, I’ve been seriously re-thinking this whole social network thing. Through the Web, I’ve met a lot of great people I otherwise wouldn’t know, and I’m grateful. And I’m still planning to use the Internet to keep in touch, to post blogs, to e-mail, to learn about books, to chat with readers, to find stuff. But today, after reading about Facebook’s Crusade of Colonization and being forced to opt out of yet another shady invasion of privacy thinly disguised as a service, I’ve finally decided to dump the world’s biggest social imperialist.

Because you know what Facebook is?

Facebook is that really cute guy at the party who’s sooo charming… because he wants to get into your pants. If you don’t give him some outright, he acts all sweet, like he’s super into you, promising you the world. If you still don’t let him in, he steps up his game — first feeding you beer, then kissing you and telling you how beautiful you are, how soft you are, how he can’t live without you (tonight). Then, as a last desperate resort, he reminds you that all of your other friends and the most popular people already let him into their pants, so if you want to be popular (or even liked), you’d better do the same.

Well, I’m done with that.

Facebook, you need to get your grubby corporate paws up outta my virtual pants, okay? And if a straight “NO” isn’t good enough for you, here’s a really long bunch of reasons to which you may refer later if you find yourself thinking wistfully about our former relationship, wondering why I’m long gone.

Why I’m Dumping Facebook

I deactivated my Facebook account! Indefinitely! I really did it. So if you’re looking for me there or wondering if I’m shunning you or something, I’m not. I’m shunning the software. I’m shunning Personal Relationships.com Inc. a Limited Liability Company.

–Sara Zarr, in her recent post on deleting her Facebook, Calvin Report + Facebook saga reaches a final (?) end.

It’s going to take me about 1500 words to say what Sara captures so perfectly in one paragraph, both because I’m an over-explainer by nature and because I’m hoping maybe some of this might encourage those of you who are considering your own FB breakup.

Here goes…

  1. Facebook Kills Relationships: By automating interaction, Facebook takes the “relate” out of “relationship.” More than any other online service I use, it has become the great homogenizer. FB is so eager to categorize and box everyone in, track everyone’s relationships and personal tastes, follow your actions, tell you who to invite or reconnect with… it’s downright unnatural! All of my FB interactions feel exactly the same now — a gray blur of likes, dislikes, newsfeeds, and a never-ending campaign of blocking invites to spam sites that call themselves games.

    “But Sarah, Facebook makes it easier to connect and communicate!” Um, no it doesn’t. Facebook simply makes it so you don’t have to connect and communicate. Why make the effort to call someone to invite her to your birthday party when you can just make a Facebook invite? Why share a photo album of the kids with their grandparents when you can just post it for everyone to see on Facebook? Why spend the afternoon with a friend talking about what’s going on in your lives when you can just read about it in your Facebook status updates? When relationships can be managed online, when everyone becomes a blue and white screen dotted with icons and brief little witty bits, why even leave the house at all? “Connecting” seems effortless on Facebook because it is effortless, and that’s not a good thing when it comes to relationships — even virtual ones.

  2. Public Life & Private Life Don’t Always Mix: I initially used FB primarily to share news and info about my books and to connect with teen readers, librarians, and other authors online. In that way it was kind of a marketing tool, but because I write and I love what I do, “marketing” really just means “talking honestly about the stuff I love.” So online, am I marketing, or am I relating? Am I selling, or am I connecting? I don’t know anymore. And then, I also used FB with my family, my friends in real life, and people from high school. I don’t want friends and family to be bombarded and overwhelmed with all my book stuff (especially if they already heard all about it in person), and I also don’t want teen readers or librarians watching my family members argue or overshare on my FB wall. See? It’s all getting so multiple personality disorder-ish! It’s like trying to seat people at a wedding where the bride and groom’s parents are all divorced and remarried. I’m like, why didn’t we just elope?!
  3. Drama & Negativity Are Rampant on FB: And boy, are they toxic. I’m so tired of learning about divorces, fights, bad news, and even positive big events that used to be shared in person (new relationships, new babies, moves) in the lives of family and friends via Facebook (and getting in trouble when I don’t hear about these things because the little blip just didn’t turn up in my newsfeed among the thousands of other blips posted that day). I’m tried of reading about everyone joining “I hate this and that” groups or “I bet we can beat that group” groups or “Raise your hand if you thinks so-and-so looks like a cow” groups. I’m tired of cyberbullying. I’m tired of having to police my wall to make sure no one posts anything inappropriate or personal. These days, logging into Facebook just makes me feel… bad.
  4. Data Aggregation is Creepy: Facebook is a corporation. That means their primary business is not to entertain or serve us, but to make money. They don’t charge users for the site, and there aren’t many ads. So how do you think they turn a profit? By selling our information — information that we freely give, often without even realizing it (like those little “get to know your friends” questionnaires or “tell everyone how we met” status updates — yes, it’s all mined for info).

    Think about how much personal information you share on FB. Photos, birthdays (even if you don’t post it, your friends might still wish you a happy day on your wall!), pets names, anniversary dates, school names and grad years, job info, travel plans, interests, hobbies, where you are, where you’re going, who you like, what you like, who you’re friends with, your relatives, what sites you visit… all the stuff passwords are made of. All the stuff your life is made of. All worth mega-money to advertisers and marketers who seek to define and label you so that they can sell you stuff you don’t need, convincing you that if you don’t buy it, you’ll be missing out (or worse — that you’re somehow less of a person). Sound like that aggressive boy at the party?

    Despite the marketing-speak all over their blog, Facebook is not there to help people “share what’s important to them,” to “put people at the center of the web,” to provide “more social and personalized experiences on other websites” as we “build the social web” together. No. We are a commodity — nothing more. Our information is a commodity. We are dollar signs. It’s that simple. And I went into our relationship knowing as much; I was willing to be that dollar sign as a trade-off for using the free service. But now, especially with their latest “social plugins” move that will enable them to essentially track our every move on the Web, it’s just too creepy for me.

  5. And This Stuff Just Makes Me Mad: You’re telling me that a company like Facebook comes along and in a matter of just a few years, integrates 500 million users from all over the globe, linking them up based on likes and dislikes and fan pages and status updates and mutual friends, partnering with other services like Twitter, WordPress, FourSquare, ShareThis, Goodreads, major news and entertainment sites, and consumer sites, generating targeted ads and “like” suggestions based on each individual profile, helping to build this so-called wonderful social web where I can instantaneously notify thousands of “friends” that I “like” Lady Gaga or Pringles Sour Cream Chips, but the health care system in this country can’t come together on standards for personal electronic health records that would reduce medical errors and deaths and save billions of dollars? You’re telling me that with all this miraculous technology, airlines are still overbooking flights and assigning two people the same seat? Do you think this is accidental? Give me a break.
  6. Time: This last reason isn’t Facebook. It’s me. I need more time to go outside. To exercise. To write. To have real actual conversations and relationships. Hey, I just want those hours (and the privacy) of my life back, okay?

So that’s it, Facebook. We are over.

For all of my friends on Facebook, over the next week or so, you’ll see me transitioning off my personal page. I’ll still post book updates on the book fan page if I can figure out a way to do it without using the personal page (otherwise, that one is going, too!).

[tweetmeme source=”sarahockler”]Like Sara Zarr said, don’t take it personal. I’m not shunning you. I’m not even going offline — you’ll still find me here, on Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, other random places — I’m just keeping myself (and my pants) away from Facebook.

20 thoughts on “Facebook, Get Outta My Pants

  1. But I like your updates and I like your mom.

    I know it IS weird. I may kill my personal page and just keep up my fan one after the book comes out.

  2. I’ve entertained the thought of deleting my facebook a couple times myself. I deleted my myspace account a few months ago in an effort to scale down, and it might be time for me to do so again. It’s overwhelming. With every farmville update that shows up in my feed, the more aggravated I get.

  3. I have a fan page for my book, and a personal page for people I know personally. I keep everything separate, because there’s plenty of info in each sphere that would be totally uninteresting to the members of the other one.

    BUT I don’t blame you… If I stop to think about it, I get to feeling the same way.

    • I like the idea of splitting it like that, but then I have a hard time deciding who I know personally since I “kind of know” a lot of people online, like YA bloggers and authors. And as soon as I start overthinking it again, I realize I just need to not do personal stuff up there. Too hard for me to keep track!

      • Maybe it would help to think of it in terms of content rather than people? Instead of saying “this page is for people I know personally,” you could say “this page is for people who will be interested in — and who I want to know — my personal stuff” and “this one’s for people who will be interested in my book-related stuff.” There can obviously be overlap!

        (Not trying to entice you back to Facebook, just thought that might help if you ever do decide to create a personal page again!)

  4. I’ve thought about deleting my facebook account dozens of times. The only reason I’ve kept it for this long is for a few friends who ONLY lose Facebook. But honestly, the site irritates me and creeps me out and I hardly ever use it. So I really should just delete it.

    • The way I’m feeling about the “I only use FB to keep in touch” friends now is this: if they are truly my friend, and they truly want to keep in touch, they will. They can email, call, write, text, visit, whatever. If someone totally loses touch with me just b/c I’m leaving FB, I guess they didn’t really want to be in touch in the first place.

      Good luck with your decision — it isn’t easy to leave!

  5. I totally understand. I’m glad you found me on FB, and gave us the opportunity to reconnect – but the site is extremely obtrusive. Don’t be a stranger, and know that I will always be a big fan of your work. In a totally non-stalker hiding in the cornfields in the middle of the night in Western New York kinda way.

  6. I am not an active Facebook user at all – but it HAS helped me find a ton of long-lost friends I might not have otherwise. Thanks for the warning about privacy settings. I just changed all mine.

  7. Totally understand where you’re coming from, Sarah!

    For some reason, Facebook doesn’t make me feel stressed out and annoyed, but Twitter does, and I’ve had to limit my time there. One thing I DO like about Facebook is that I can hide the Feed of people who do nothing but sell their product/book/service there. I do that plenty. But I despise the all the Farmville/Fishville stuff and I always opt out of the invasion-of-privacy-disguised as features features.

    I think its all about creating an online environment you can actually ENJOY, and if killing Facebook does that, I say, “Go, you!”


  8. So interesting! I had no idea FB was making all these changes. I went and read a bunch about it and now I’m a little freaked out. I’ve already deleted basically all personal info about myself on my profile, and my “interests” section just says “visit my website.” But yeah … I totally get where you’re coming from. A long time ago I stopped posting anything personal on FB at all, so even though I don’t have a Fan page for myself, it’s basically a Fan page. I hardly ever use FB to check on my “real” friends, anyway.

  9. Your post really has me thinking. Especially the part about FB’s future plans. All of that data collecting and integrating makes me cringe. *sigh* What to do…

  10. Thanks for posting this, Sarah. You hit the nail on the (very creepy) FB head. I have to say I’m thankful it’s reconnected me with you, though. And I’ll be in touch — FB or no. (For the record – Twitter freaks me out in that oh-so-stressful way as well.)

  11. I’ve been thinking about jumping this corporate ship for a long time and just haven’t done it–inertia I guess is my best excuse.

    Thanks for the complete picture. Very clear. Very motivating.

  12. You’re so smart, you’re making me want to delete my FB right now! But it’s like I’m hooked to the FB crack pipe. Every point you made makes so much sense (and yeah, I’ve got over 1000 friends because of my books and my bro posts some really sarcastic things to me that others shouldn’t see! Gasp!) But I’m paralyzed to stop using.

    I wonder if there’s a rehab out there for FB users?

  13. I quit facebook in June then found out I had to travel a special route to permanently delete it – so I did.

    You’re right, it can ruin your life and luckily I left before it did. I kept the emails of the handful of friends I wanted to find then left everyone else go. It took some time but it was worth it.

    Good for you and anyone else that leaves FB.

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