This will be my last post on Facebook. It seems silly to even mention it but Facebook really has had a prominent place in my life for 13 years. I haven’t even known my wife that long.
While visiting family in Indiana a few years ago, I had a discussion with an old friend about the value of social media, Facebook in particular. He argued, and I quote, “no good will come from it”. I argued that Facebook was a powerful tool to drive positive social change and that time and use would eventually show him that I was right.
Jeff–I’m very sorry to say that you were right and I was terribly wrong.
Facebook is doing vastly more harm than good to the world. That’s not to say there haven’t been some positive outcomes from people using Facebook to share their lives. However, looking back through history, and recognizing that we as global community have with time become more peaceful and more tolerant, I don’t believe Facebook’s impact has been especially notable. Perhaps Facebook helped accelerate some progress but I am very skeptical that it was instrumental.
Greed–not like a child who wants more of something than she needs or deserves, I mean, pure, insatiable, Biblical Greed–powers this platform. It comes in many forms; it’s advertisers who demand exposure without moral compromise, paid trolls deceiving vulnerable minds for personal gain without regard for the ultimate consequences, charlatans with counter-factual opinions profiting from their relationships with morally-bankrupt advertisers, and so on, and so forth. In the world of Facebook, you exist exclusively for someone else to make a fast buck.
As the platform slowly degenerated, I curtailed my usage to occasional visits just to see pictures of my kids. Now, I don’t feel like I can keep visiting and maintain a healthy conscience. I was somewhat concerned in the last few months by people beginning to realize the degree and accuracy to which Facebook can discern their preferences, habits, and behaviors. The recent scandals (Russia, Cambridge Analytica) pushed me even closer to quitting entirely. Now, with news that Facebook approached healthcare providers about sharing information with the stated goal of de-anonymizing it (the ends be damned), I simply can’t keep using it without feeling like I’m complicit in the exploitation of my digital neighbors.
I think the world was a better place before I was the product. Before people with terrible, misguided, poorly-informed, un-factual opinions got a new sounding board after the civilized world had tuned them out. Before it became okay to share openly bigoted, racist, derisive, demeaning, abusive content because we eliminated the inhibiting factor of having a real human observer. Before we decided our elections with memes. Before toxic echo chambers were only as big as a bar or a coffee shop.
So… I’m out. I’ll remember fondly the Wall before it was distorted into the timeline, and returning from class to see if anyone had poked me while I was away. It was a lot of fun before they favored profits over principles.