Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why I'm Quitting Facebook

What follows is not meant to be a judgment on Facebook, or on anybody who uses Facebook.  It’s just my opinion, coming out of my own experience.

I can’t remember when I first opened my account, but it was at least eight years ago.  At the time, it was a novel and fantastic way to reestablish contact with old friends from college and high school, and from the many work situations that were now a part of my past.  And since we were living in Ethiopia and one of our children was in school in Europe, it was a wonderful way to follow discretely what was going on in her life.  The same was true when we had both our daughters in university.

Facebook has evolved over the years.  More and more games, more and more features, more and more gadgets, more and more ways to draw me in and keep me interested.  And then, there are the ads.  These have been taking up more and more screen space as the years go by.

And then there’s the dark side.  I can find just about anything I might want on Facebook.  And while the Facebook censors try to keep up with the illicit or raunchy content, they don’t always succeed.  And when I’ve been tempted to troll in places where I shouldn’t be, I’ve noticed that even my internet accountability program doesn’t flag what I look at on Facebook.  The lure of perceived anonymity is just too great. 

Jesus gives good advice to those who find themselves in trouble.  He says, ‘If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off….  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.’  There is a very good chance that, despite the temptation to go literal here, Jesus was not a fan of self-mutilation, whatever else Origen and others might have thought.  Instead, a case could be made for the real meaning of what Jesus is saying to be: ‘Get rid of the source, make it harder to go there, throw up a barricade, dig a moat and fill it with crocodiles, etc.’

So the real reason I am quitting Facebook is not because I’m offended by the ads, or I’m annoyed by the rightwing/leftwing wingnut posts, not because I find the constant stream of cloying blather from certain overusers tiresome.  Instead, Facebook has ceased to be a safe place for me, and it’s time to get out of there.

I’ve tried for a long time to make it work, because I value how Facebook has enabled me to keep up with my scattered family.  But the cost is just too great.  I’ll have to remember how I did things before there was such a thing as Facebook, like pick up the phone and make a call, or sit down and write an email, or even, gasp! a letter.  Or even more radical, go and visit someone in person and have a catch up over a cup of tea (or a pint in a pub).

I wish there were no dark side.  But I’ve learned from experience that I simply cannot manage it.  And so I’m heeding my inner Monty Python voice to ‘Run away!’  I’m cutting off my hand, and plucking out an eye.  Better to live life maimed without Facebook than to end up in hell.

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