I almost deleted my Facebook account last week.
I got as far as setting up a “dummy” account to manage my blog pages from (I have a Facebook page for each of my blogs: they do drive traffic to the sites, so I don’t want to get rid of them, but for some reason Facebook requires you to have a personal account in order to manage a page…), and then I stopped. Somehow I couldn’t quite persuade myself to take the final step and hit that “‘delete’ button. So I stayed – for now. But…
I don’t think I like Facebook any more.
It’s a shame, because it used to be my favourite of all the social networks. My friends and family are scattered across the country – and, in some cases, the world. Even the ones who live locally are often busy with their own lives, so I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like to. I liked the fact that Facebook brought us all together again. That I could log in, and have some degree of connection with people who would otherwise be lost to me. I have cousins, for instance, who I hardly ever see, and who, without Facebook, I’d barely even know. I liked the fact that, because of Facebook, I’m still able to have some kind of relationship with them – to know what they’re doing, and how they are. The same goes for all of those friends I never see, and would totally lose touch with if it wasn’t for that little blue page.
I even liked Facebook for the things other people hate it for. All of those old high school friends who randomly send you a friends request, even although they wouldn’t have been seen dead with you when you were actually in high school? I like that I get to stay in touch with those people. I’ve come to “know” some of them better than I ever did in school – and to like them better, too. I’ve discovered that I actually have some things in common with people I wouldn’t have even thought about again, and there’s something quite nice about that. I’ve heard it said that no one ever really understands you like the people who knew you as a child. I think there’s some truth to that, and as I get older, and there are fewer and fewer of those people in my “real” life, I quite like the fact that there are still some of them on Facebook. Hey, remember that time in 2nd year, when…? Who else could you share those memories with? Who else would ever care?
So I liked Facebook, is what I’m saying. I even liked all of that boring, banal stuff that most people complain about: the “what I had for dinner” statuses, the photos of people’s babies, the holiday snaps… Er, OK, maybe not the food stuff, actually. There are few things less interesting to me than a meal someone else ate, seriously. But the thing is, if you’re my friend, I WANT to see photos of your children. I’m interested in your holiday snaps. I like that you can tell me you had a bad day at work, and I REALLY like the photos of your cat. Or your dog. Or whatever small, furry, animal you own.
Lately, though, I think Facebook has lost almost everything that made it good. Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that the “personal” statuses have almost completely died out, to be replaced by endless inspirational quotes, “hilarious” videos and “shocking” news stories that people really should have checked Snopes.com for, before hitting the share button. And, oh, that “share” button! It – along with its close friend, the ‘like’ button – has pretty much killed off all original content on the site.
People don’t post photos, or tell stories, or even let you know what they had for dinner anymore – they just share other people’s content, instead. Clicking the “like” button has become an easy shortcut to self-expression: why bother telling me what YOU think about a particular issue – in your own words – when you can simply share what someone else thinks, instead? I work out who you are, not by the things you say and do, but by the people and pages you associate with, and by the things you share. You don’t express your own point of view – you just share someone else’s, and while there’s always a place for a well-timed quote, there’s something hollow and ultimately disappointing about a personality which is simply cobbled together from other people’s words, images and ideas.
I want to know what YOU think about the issues you share. I want to see what YOU did today. But that’s too bad, because while there are some exceptions (I’m by no means saying that everyone on Facebook simply regurgitates content), for the most part, I feel like Facebook is no longer a social network – it’s simply another content-sharing site, and that’s what we have Pinterest for.
(EDITED TO ADD: I just wanted to clarify here that I’m not saying I hate ALL sharing, and that no one should EVER do it. I mean, I share stuff myself sometimes, if I think it’s interesting, (and that people might not have seen it: I don’t really get the point of people sharing whatever the top news story of the day is, as if they’re the only one with access to BBC, and the rest of us are depending on them to tell us who won Wimbledon or whatever) and I think some amount of shared content is fine. I’m talking here about the people who ONLY share videos, who share them constantly, and who never post anything of their own…)
Seriously: I want to see my friends again. And it has to be said, but if I wanted to read Buzzfeed articles, I’d just visit Buzzfeed itself. If I’m in need of inspirational quotes (and I’m really not…) , I’ll go to Pinterest. If I want to read every single story the Daily Mail published today, I’ll just repeatedly hit my head against a brick wall, because I HATE THE DAILY MAIL. Er, sorry, got carried away there: I meant to write that if I want to read stories from the Daily Mail, I’ll just go to their site myself. (I won’t.) I don’t need you to go there for me, and then share every single article on Facebook. I have access to the Internet too, you know: I can visit these sites for myself.
While I’m on the subject, I honestly don’t give a crap what colour your aura is, either*, or which Disney Princess you would be if you were a Disney Princess. (I’d be Cinderella, obvs. Because shoes.) What’s more, I don’t believe that clicking the “like” button will make poor people miraculously richer (No, Facebook will NOT “donate a dollar” for every like that photo gets…), and I’m really confused why you’re asking me to prove that I’m “against” cancer by clicking on a “share this photo if YOU hate cancer, too!” photo. (Seriously, are there people who LIKE cancer? Really? And if I don’t share the image, you’re going to think I’m one of them?). Don’t even get me started on the whole “post the colour of your bra as your status and don’t tell anyone why, because cryptic messages that you refuse to explain are totally the best way to raise awareness of breast cancer! Which, by the way: is BAD. Share this image if you think breast cancer is bad!” thing.
(“Sorry. Your aura is lovely today, really.)
I don’t think I like Facebook any more, is what I’m saying. But it’s like the Hotel California, really: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…*
(*Or not if you have a blog page, anyway.)
[P.S. As with my post on Instagram, these are purely my personal opinions: I’m not for a second trying to tell anyone how they should use Facebook, and I think everyone should use it however they like. These are just my own observations on why I don’t use it very often now…]