I want to preface this by saying there are many reasons to be on Facebook. I understand that. It’s hard to think of anything else that has done so much to foster communication between friends, family, and weird acquaintances. A billion people use it daily for connecting with their loved ones, and the reason this number isn’t higher undoubtedly has more to do with economics and infrastructure than the service itself.
But I don’t use Facebook. It isn’t installed on my phone, the password isn’t saved in my browser, and apart from a couple of group chats on Messenger, I would have no contact with it whatsoever. Apart from a couple of pictures of my cat, mostly to annoy my friends, I haven’t posted a status update in two years.
I often find it hard to explain exactly why. Usually I fall into comfortable cliches, like not wanting my worlds crossed, not particularly caring about baby pictures or other’s politics. But a recent article on Medium by Andre Bohrer really captured my problem with the platform.
Bohrer describes how Facebook spills over into his reality. This is precisely the issue with putting so much of your life out there, almost gossiping about yourself. It encourages a sense of voyeurism and ownership:
Well, the week before Christmas, then on Christmas Eve, and then again on Christmas day—3 times!—I get asked by some relative or some friend (who I haven’t seen in over a year), “Who’s that girl on your profile? Are you dating her? She seems really interested in you!”
What!? First of all, I was surprised that these relatives and friends could even see that picture, as I’ve tried to implement every Facebook security measure to avoid this sort of stuff, but alas, I missed out on changing a newer default preference they recently rolled out. More importantly, though, I found it so awful that those people (who are barely in my life) would snoop on what I was doing, make a mental note of it, and then bring it up in person as if I owed it to them to talk about it or something.
You should read Bohrer’s entire piece. It’s great.