Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why I Don't Have a Facebook Account

Let me start by saying this - I know I'm missing out. Sometimes, not having a Facebook account feels like not being invited to the cool party where all your friends are hanging out. But that's not true. Of course I've been invited, the whole world is invited! It's more like choosing to not go to the cool party where your friends are hanging out because you're certain that you will also run into some of the biggest jerks you know.

The result is that I'm uninformed about all sorts of things that are known to most of my social sphere - who did what when and all of the documenting photos, birthdays, notices of upcoming events including (especially - sigh!) parties. And I understand why nearly everyone I know uses this tool to keep each other updated. It's convenient (not to mention a great way to waste time at work). In other words, I know why I should have a Facebook account.

Since I closed my account last winter, many people have asked me why. The funniest query came from my brother-in-law's parents, who must be nearing their seventies. I thought they were joking until I looked into their utterly serious eyes. I guess some people have been affronted by my lack of involvement in the Facebook universe.

I wrote an anti-Facebook blog after I closed my account, but I was much grumpier about it then. Distance has given me a less emotional perspective and so I've given the question some honest consideration. Why don't I have a Facebook account? Here are some answers -

The Jerk Factor This is the problem with any social networking site. I hate that feeling I get when my computer tells me that some person I don't like wants to be my friend. Then I have to ask myself - do I dislike this person enough that I will straight up reject them, or do I just avoid clicking a button? The difference between Facebook and other social networking sites is that almost everyone uses this one. Its popularity increases the likelihood of this unpleasant experience occurring.

The Format Flatters No One Have you ever known a person who seemed really cool and then they started doing coke and became a total jackass? When I see someone on Facebook, it's like seeing them on coke.

The update section is the worst. What if someone recorded my silly everyday banter and published it? I would sound inane. That's the quality of the update section of a Facebook account, where you broadcast what you are thinking or doing and others may comment. Half of what I'm thinking isn't worth saying, and 95% of what I say is definitely not worth writing down. This is true for most people, and Facebook makes that truth painfully clear.

Surprisingly, I don't find Twitter as irritating, maybe because it's only updates. I'm sure there are countless individuals like myself who started tweeting, quickly realized that they had nothing substantive to share, and gave up. Facebook lures you with a dizzying array of features including updates. I think most people post updates just because they're logged in and it seems the thing to do.

Don't even get me started on the quizzes. "What style font are you?" I get embarrassed for the people who bother with that stuff.

Because I See Enough of My Coworkers Already And I honestly mean no offense to them by saying that. All of them are super cool, a blessing in this absurd world in which we spend 40 hours a week in little rooms with the same people. And because I like and respect these people, I would feel like a bum if I didn't befriend them on Facebook. But I don't need to know how they're doing in the evening or on the weekend. I'll find out soon enough.

I'm Just Not That Social The ultimate reason that I deactivated my Facebook account is that I found it overwhelming. I've spent a good chunk of my life trying to be invisible. Without getting into the nitty gritty details, I'll say that invisibility was a survival skill from childhood that unfortunately stuck with me. I'm not nearly as shy as I used to be, but I'm a long way from feeling comfortable with posting pictures of myself, pretending to have 60 or so friends, or kidding myself that I'm actually going to hang out with a long lost classmate. It feels fake.

In short, I don't have a Facebook account because it isn't an enjoyable experience for me. I know this is inconvenient for my friends and family, and I'm sorry for that. But please know that I'm still available by phone, email, the USPS, and at my front door. I may not have an exciting update to share, but I'm always game for conversation.

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