I wonder how many people went and killed their Facebook accounts after yesterday’s article in the NY Times (1) about how difficult it is to get out of the site’s sticky grip. Perhaps nearly as many as the time that the Guardian took a look at the guys behind facebook (2), and what they’re doing with the profit and power they gain from all our incessant social networking.
I’ve been meaning to get round to it, but somehow it was easier to log on and check my Warbook level than it was to opt out. It’s been a while already since the constant barrage of status updates lost their lustre. The latest sleep and poo updates of friends with newly borns; the latest hangover and party updates from those still on the rave circuit; the American Psycho quotes. Occasionally funny or thoughtful; mostly banal.
Eventually, though, I decided that for every reason to use Facebook, there is somewhat more compelling reason not to. Feel free to add yours to the list.
Reasons to use Facebook:
1. It’s fun. Well, for about a month or so. While you get unexpected emails from old school and varsity friends you’ve always wondered about.
2. It’s cool and funny. You can track who’s connected to whom. While they throw the occasional sheep at you.
3. It’s useful for mobilising groups. You can set up an event and invite a bunch of people along. As many or as few as you like. You can publicise big events. In other words, you can be clever and use it for networking.
4. You can avoid work and other stuff. Facebook provides premium work-avoidance opportunities. Spend hours posting notes and photos, and playing Warbook or Scrabulous. If you can bear the slow download times for the heavily framed FB pages.
5. If you’re a software developer, you can get loads of people using your applications really fast.
6. You like feeling like you’re part of the wired generation.
Reasons to quit Facebook:
1. You’ve had enough fun. You’ve remembered that there’s a reason you lost touch with some people. You don’t actually care about your colleague’s newborn’s latest nappy change.
2. It’s not actually that cool or that funny. Actually, it’s boring and a waste of time.
3. If people actually want to invite you to something, the ones that matter tend to have your phone number or email address.
4. You’re wasting more time on it than you’d like to admit.
5. You’re not a software developer, are you?
Still, there were so many reasons to put it off. Not least the groups and events applications. How will I know when the next extraordinary flash mob event is? What if a bunch of people I know are organising, I don’t know… a house party. Yes, well. Maybe they’ll get in touch via email or phone. Maybe I just won’t know about the next Big Underground Happening. I’m sure I’ll find something to fill the time.
2. Hodkinson, Tom. The Guardian, 13 January, 2004.
With friends like these…
3. How to break out of Facebook’s sticky grip.
4. Jason’ Preston’s somewhat more subversive approach – getting out of it by violating the terms of service.
5. Randall, David and Richards, Victoria. Facebook can ruin your life. The Independent, Sunday 10 February 2008.