My biggest New Year’s resolution was to leave Facebook, permanently. Like many people, a lot of my social contact was run through Facebook, so why quit it cold turkey? Here are the primary reasons for doing so.
First, Facebook is a massive invasion of privacy—mine, and everyone else’s. I’m giving my thoughts, social connections, photos, and more to a multi-billion dollar company whose primary goal is to make money by selling me to advertisers. There’s a saying in Silicon Valley, and likely elsewhere, “If a service is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.” I’d be happy to pay a company a reasonable monthly fee for a Facebook-like service that guaranteed (in writing!) not to use my information for advertising in any way. No ads or placed articles in my feed. No tracking. No guessing what I’d like. Just a straight feed of updates from people and organizations that I specify, with no Facebook-determined filter of what I might or might not like.
Second, Facebook and services like it have been documented trying to shift public opinion by biasing what they do and don’t show in peoples’ feeds. There’s plenty of evidence that Facebook is trying to shift public opinion; the question is largely over which direction and whether such nudging is ethical. I don’t want any part of it. I get plenty of nudging from news organizations on the left (CNN), center (WSJ), and right (Fox). I don’t need or want Facebook determining that the “lab leak” theory of COVID origin is a conspiracy theory and shutting it down, a year before it realizes that, well maybe, it wasn’t a lab leak. I don’t want Facebook arbitrating science because, frankly, it does a bad job of it. And I especially don’t want Facebook’s view on politics, or even its view on what my politics should be, determining what news and information I get.
Third, Facebook is a huge time sink. They hire psychologists to make it more addictive because they can serve you more ads, and hence make more money, if you spend more time reading your feed. Enough. I’d rather read RSS feeds from a range of reputable organizations, skimming based on title and reading interesting articles. And I’ll have time to do that now that I’m not wasting time on Facebook.
Finally, Facebook has been shown to lead to depression. The reason is simple: people post the good stuff on Facebook, and sometimes the really bad stuff, but not the average day-to-day stuff. And even if they did post the day-to-day stuff, I (honestly) don’t care about day-to-day stuff for most of my Facebook friends—no offense! The result is that we see several of our friends on vacation in some exotic location every time we read our feed. With a few hundred friends, that means that somebody is always on vacation, even though you’re not. The impression you get is that everybody has a better life than you do, which simply isn’t true. And then there’s FOMO, which happens when you can find everything that everyone else is doing. Enough already.
I’m happy to share my thoughts and (some) details about my life with anyone who’s interested, which is why I started this blog. I encourage you to read it, and will make an RSS feed available for those who want to know when new posts are published. I highly recommend RSS as a way to quickly scan a lot of sites for interesting material; the RSS feed for a given site is uncensored, and provides a quick summary of new material so you can read what you want, not what someone else wants you to read.