My relationship with Facebook: “It’s complicated”

It is part of the global Internet infrastructure now.

Safiya Noble, a University of Southern California professor and author of Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

I often fantasize about deleting my Facebook account. I don’t think I’m the only one: between the “timesuck” factor and the constant security breaches, the #DeleteFacebook hashtag has risen in popularity. Despite the fact that I’ve written several books about social media, I’m emotionally so done with Facebook.

Yet, I can’t leave it. It’s not even just a matter of connections to friends, families and colleagues, although losing the convenience of having them all centrally accessible would a tremendous problem for me. Facebook is also the place where I can get support for various medical issues that my family is dealing with. It’s where I connect to other practitioners of my hobbies and interests. (It’s also the only place to really find out where some Irish jam sessions (seisúns) are happening around the Northeast Ohio area.) I’m pretty sure I could live without more pictures of puppies, memes, or dinners. But too many people use it to communicate and organize ,around too many things, to simply walk away.

Let’s be honest: do we really want to go back to the days of emailing lots of people and hoping for a response? I ask myself if I could go back to treating every group social interaction like a listserv, and it makes me shudder. When it comes to putting all of the social “stuff” of my life in one place, Facebook can’t be beat. And that’s why I struggle with the #DeleteFacebook movement. Facebook’s totally irresponsible with my data. And I’ve no expectation that will change. I suppose I’ve resigned myself to a sort of “Oh well, I’m screwed anyway” attitude and just keep moving on with Facebook. But, underneath, every time I scroll through that feed, there’s an uneasy feeling of wondering how long until a big enough shoe drops…and, by then, will it be too late for me?

I’ve cut way back on posting to Facebook over the past several months, and I feel a strong sense of guilt every time that I post. After all, posting is feeding the beast. Just logging in is feeding the beast, too, since Facebook gets more data about what kinds of posts I spend time on. Even if I decide to personally break up with Facebook, I’m also responsible for managing several Facebook Pages and groups, including for my job, so abandoning Facebook is not something I can do right now. Maybe never. And every new scandal or security breach just adds to the frustration and remorse.

I’ve fallen out of love with Facebook. Even while it serves me, I know that the long-term prospects for my relationship with the platform are poor. What now? I have really have no idea.

What are your thoughts about using Facebook now? Share in the comments!


Originally published at What Does This Mean to Me, Laura?.