I want to leave Facebook, but...

posted by Jeff | Sunday, December 2, 2018, 10:46 PM | comments: 0

The headlines around Facebook lately are not good. If being complicit in aiding the worst of humanity and playing a part in the social manipulation of people by foreign agents wasn't bad enough, now we've got reports about the executive team doing really douchey stuff.

My personal dislike of it has more to do with the way it has made niche publishers and communities somewhat obsolete. Sure, people share stuff via Facebook, but people don't really click through and read stuff. And for communities on any topic, any idiot can make a page and build a community instead of going to some independent thing. Facebook (along with Google) is the Internet for a lot of people, and it's the very opposite of what made the Internet so awesome, the widely distributed, anyone can force their way in nature of it.

To be sure, it's not that it's all a shit show and doesn't have utility. I've been able to maintain some long distance friendships for more than a decade, and might not have been able to otherwise, because of Facebook. It's strange how there are some friends from college that inevitably roll into Orlando, and we can pick up as if we never missed a day, despite thousands of miles of moves and kids and jobs. That is every manner of amazing. I've also found it valuable as a journal of sorts that records my travels and important events.

Social media in general also gets a bad rap for things that it is probably not inherently responsible for. Narcissists and people who lack humility would probably be that way without the Internet. I also don't buy that we only share a sanitized version of our lives online, because frankly I wouldn't share the worst of life in person with people I encounter at work or social circles. I do think the whole "influencer" thing and the micro-celebrity phenomenon is wholly ridiculous, but it's just a bigger version of the small town/big fish phenomenon.

Still, Facebook survives its bullshit for one reason: It's where the people are. If the people I care about stop using it, I will too. What sucks about that is that I'm not sure we'll find somewhere better. I've gone on record with saying that I would happily give money to a new social network where there were no brands, no ads and I was the customer instead of the product. The problem is, I don't think people would ever go for that, and that's unfortunate.


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