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Posted by on Jun 9, 2009 in Random | 13 comments

Facebook & I: FB Revisited

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My old Sunday School teacher used to say: a little honesty goes a long way. In the spirit of that honesty, and at risk of sounding like a complete Luddite*, let me make a public confession: I still don’t use Facebook.

I have a Facebook profile (in fact, I was one of the first to have one in my circle of “friends”.) I just don’t use it much. As in hardly ever at all.

I’ve tried to get into it, I promise. I just haven’t been able to. I am still trying to at the moment. And it’s still difficult.

I think the thing that really gets to me is how all-pervasive the whole “FB scene” seems to be. Everyone (well, mostly everyone) I know has a FB profile. Many of them, very regularly, make a point of asking me why I’m never on the site to chat. Why I never update my status, respond to the messages left on my wall, post and tag photographs, or pretty much anything else. And I can’t truly explain to them why not.

It’s strange to think that if Facebook was a nation, with its 200 million+ members, it would slot in ahead of Brazil as the planets’ 5th most populous country. If my maths is vaguely up to scratch, that represents about 3% of the entire planet! And what a multi-cultural global superpower nation it would be at that.

Based on Facebooks’ own statistics, half of their membership login at least once a day and spend a collective 4 billion minutes on the site each day. Again my rusty mental maths suggests that that equates to an average of 40 minutes per user per day. That’s a lot of time in anyone’s language for one site to hold an internet users attention.

I took out FB citizenship in mid-2007. At that point I spent about 3 hours within its borders. Then I went into self-imposed exile. In my time away, I have received a number of email requests to return to its shores and to connect with some or other past acquaintance whom I have, in many cases, only very feint recollections of.

During my exile many a “Disciple of the Book” struggled to understand why I had not been completely enraptured by the lure of its simple login screen. Why I refused to spend obscene amounts of my waking hours within its walls. My ability to completely ignore each of the Please Be My Friend requests perplexed many. As I mentioned earlier, this confusion seems to continue to today.The fact that I had set up a message rule in my email client to automatically delete any incoming messages containing the word “Facebook” in the subject line meant that I was blissfully ignorant of these requests.

Truth is I felt absolutely no desire to poke anyone in cyberspace. No urge to supply people with virtual gifts or beers. I can only wonder what a “super snowball fight” involves. (I only wonder very briefly about it though, it must be said.) Ultimately I simply did not sense any obvious reason to share my movements and mood changes with all and sundry.

Contrary to the nature of my professional life in hospitality and training – both, by their nature, very public pursuits – I am an very private person when it comes to my personal life. I think that this was the issue central to much of my resistance to FB.

At the time (back in the heady days of ‘07), Facebook simply did not have the privacy options that it does now. And whilst reading about the minutia of other peoples’ lives has a strange sense of voyeurism about it, I simply could not see myself ever sharing that much detail in a open environment.

I did update my profile once earlier this year. But then I went back to my happy existence outside of the Facebook world, where I have been living peacefully ever since. Blissful in my Luddicity you might say.

Perhaps things are better now, what with the myriad of  privacy options and settings available to FB users these days. Still, I continue to feel very disinterested, almost disconnected from it all.

My pending Facebook requests. Add to these: 11 unread messages & 3 notifications (whatever they are)A little earlier today I logged into my profile to see what there is to see. This took a little while as I had forgotten both the email account and the password I used to register on the site…

Once in I did consider updating my profile, adding something to the page to show that I’d been there, leaving some sign of my acceptance of the hold FB has over me.

But then I saw the pile of “Requests” waiting for me. I saw the indicator showing the 11 unread messages, and the little “protesters picket sign” thing down the bottom right-hand corner of the screen that was just dying to tell me that I have “3 Notifications” – whatever they are.

And that’s about when I left again. The realisation that if I started with any of those requests and messages that I would feel obligated to respond to them all. The subconscious fear of possibly ignoring some people while replying to others is just too strong. I mean, these are people I count as “Friends”. How can I consider insulting, offending, hurting any of them? My simple thinking: better and easier to ignore everyone equally than to ignore some selectively.

And there’s the reality of it all, I guess. I am a lot more comfortable now with my privacy concerns. Instead, I am now a heck of a lot more concerned by the seemingly covert power and influence that the whole of the Facebook world continues to have on so many people. And that it continues to attempt to have on me.

*A Luddite is a person who fears or loathes technology, especially new forms of technology that threaten existing jobs (So now you know too!)

13 Comments

  1. Nice post Greg. I think I have many times felt the same way about the influence FB has on our lifes. You cant avoid it I dont think & so I hope to see you back on the Book soon.

    • Hi Wolf
      Glad to hear that I am not entirely imagining it. Once I come to terms with the FB hold on me, I'll be sure to look you up over there…

  2. YOU went to Sunday School?!

    • Hard to believe I know, but true.

  3. You dunno what u missing! Facebook rox!

    • Thanks FB Fan – I may yet come to see that as well, I guess.

  4. Thanks for the useful info. It's so interesting

    • You are most welcome Bobmarche. We are full of useful info around here it seems…:}

  5. Ever considered rather having a corporate profile insted of a personal one, you can use it to promote redeye and blabla insted of yourself, this allows you personal privacy, yet gives people access to yourself.

  6. Greg, I dare you! Lets do facebook accounts for our little two blogs!

    Second thought, let me weekend over it. I am scared of facebook. The facebookers seem way too intense.

  7. found ur post really interesting..but hmmm like they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem so here goes…i confess i am a facebook addict….i update my status at least 3 times a day, i have over 900 photos of me and i jus cant help but check my profile nealry every 10 minutes….but i wont lie…i love it…my friends are the only people who get to see my personal info and i jus really enjoy it…ok i wont lie…i was so anti FB in the beginning and such a huge fan of mxit but things changed i got bored and now im addicted to both…im actually doing both right now…hehe i know crazy…

  8. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-840">

    Bavisha Naransamy :i update my status at least 3 times a day, i have over 900 photos of me and i jus cant help but check my profile nealry every 10 minutes

    Sounding a little vain there, aren't we?

    Kidding. I'm pretty active on FB as well.

    Come and join the party Greg!

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