Many of my friends and acquaintances have either quit Facebook altogether, or are taking a month or two off, citing various reasons:
- Facebook’s complete disregard for privacy
- the addictive nature of the medium
- bad for mood/mental health (everyone else seems to be having a better time)
- waste of time
- just not fun
Personally I don’t have any major issues with Facebook. It’s a useful free service for sharing information. I share interesting articles, the occasional picture, blog posts, and my music releases. I like to see what my friends and acquaintances are up to, and what they find interesting, and what they want to promote to me (their show, music release, new book, restaurant, etc). Recently my friend used Facebook to sell a mattress, which I think is an appropriate use of the medium (she didn’t want to deal with creepers on craigslist).
In general I try to abide by the following:
- Don’t share anything I’m not comfortable with the entire world seeing.
- If someone is wrong on the internet, that’s OK (I don’t need to intervene).
- Don’t use Facebook to express my deepest feelings.
Last night I watched a thread between friends go bad. Feelings hurt, accusations, defriending. Ouch! It was the kind of interaction that could put a person off of social media altogether. Face to face, or even on the phone, the interaction wouldn’t have deteriorated. We can’t read other people’s feelings — only their words. If you reach out for sympathy on social media, you might find some. But it’s a crapshoot. It’s more reliable to call a friend. Facebook just doesn’t work as a medium to emotionally connect. More often, it leaves people feeling more isolated and lonely. Facebook’s founders would like you believe that it’s a tool for social connection, but Facebook doesn’t work for emotional expression. At its best, Facebook is a shared clipboard. Facebook’s not for feelings.
Maybe that’s why teens, who need to express their feelings constantly, are leaving in droves. They’re right to. Leave the shared clipboard for the grown-ups.