Why I Never Signed Up for Facebook
And why I still haven’t gone there
I never signed up for Facebook. It’s been interesting reading this year to read the many stories describing the privacy breaches that have exposed Facebook user’s data — as has it has been to read the calls to action of people who recommend closing down one’s account, which it says is a very hard thing to do.
I’ve read about how the algorithm targets users differently, and sends different ads to customers of different races.
Facebook has also been implicated for its role in the Fake News, and the Russian hacking of the United States presidential elections.
But none of those are the reasons why I never joined Facebook, which has been around for a long time. The nexus of why I never joined can’t be any of these things, because when Facebook was getting popular, I never joined it.
In other words, the reasons why I never signed up for Facebook hadn’t even been invented yet.
It’s hard to explain exactly why I never had a Facebook account, and why I couldn’t close mine down now even of I wanted to — because I never had one.
But I’ll try.
I know everyone else was doing it. But I’ve never been the kind of person who cared what everyone else was doing. There were times when I intended to do it, back in the day, but it always took a back seat to other things that were higher priorities on my to-do list, even when that included copious screen time and surfing the internet. At first, it was simply that I never got around to it.
I was going back to school as a single mom, learning technical writing, web design, and e-commerce. I already had two degrees, but I was having a hard time getting work.
But even during my techie foray, I never quite found the time to sign up for Facebook.
Around that same period, I looked up some old friends that I wanted to reconnect with, simply by entering their names in a web browser and connecting with them through email. Done.
So it certainly wasn’t a deliberate, intentional thing. Back in 2000, there were no revelations about data being collected or sold to the highest user, or data being subverted and used to send out fake news. Those things were way down the pike. I simply didn’t get around to it.
I was never quite curious enough to make a profile for myself.
Signing up for Facebook was like a lot of good intentions I had — like buying a piano, getting it moved into my apartment, and hiring someone to give my daughter piano lessons — it just never happened. We also never went camping. The years passed by too swiftly.
Eventually, I forgot about Facebook altogether.
Eventually, I forgot about Facebook altogether. I would listen to my friends complain about someone who had unfriended them on Facebook. I was curious enough to ask questions about the interface, enough so that I could understand what they were talking about. I was never quite curious enough to make a profile for myself.
I was busy with work, friendships, trying to catch some relaxation during the weekends to ground myself for the next work week, and raising my daughter. One day a next-door neighbor asked me if I wanted to learn how to salsa dance, and I said yes. My salsa dance phase lasted for years afterwards.
I changed careers, and soon was doing hours of take-home work every night. I went from spending hours every night helping my daughter do homework to being told by her math teacher to not help her, because I was doing math “the old way,” and it would be most unhelpful.
Through it all, I’d have friends and family members share stories of how they had reconnected with people from their past through being on Facebook. People told me I should get on, too. Every once in a while, I’d promise I would do it, but I never did. Eventually, it seemed that since I’d gone for so long after it’s been in existence and never had it, I obviously hadn’t been negatively impacted from not having it.
I lifted weights. I took up running. I moved to a city far away, on the other side of the country. I did a lot of talking on the telephone. Life was full. I didn’t need Facebook.
I’ve recently read stories by people who say they are going to be cutting off their Facebook. They go on a Facebook fast for a weekend to see if they can handle it. They write about how difficult it was to cut off the habit, but how they discovered so many more hours in the day to do other things once they disconnected from it.
In a way, I almost wish I could have been on Facebook all those years; beginning at the time of the early adopters and through its meteoric rise, when so many people connected with others who had similar interests, and enjoyed posting their relationship status, anniversaries, and photographs; through today, being led astray from fake news, experiencing aversion of learning how my data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, just so I could be like so many others.
And close my Facebook account.