September 16, 2013

Ready to Cut the Cord with Facebook?

What’s on your mind?

With 1.15 billion monthly active users as of June 2013, it’s rare (and respectable) to find someone who’s doesn’t have a Facebook profile.

I myself hopped on the bandwagon in December of 2006, according to my timeline. Before that, I was all about MySpace. And before that,who remembers Friendster? (Shout out to my fellow millenials, we pioneers of online social networking!)

I love it and I hate it, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Why I love it:

  1. It is a fantastic tool for communication.

I have always had a penchant for keeping in touch with friends, even back in the old days when having pen pals meant hand writing letters on stationary and putting them in the physical mailbox with a 29 cent stamp.

Of course, these days Facebook is an efficient, effective way to share ideas, questions, photos, jokes and stories with one’s family and friends near and far. As an international school teacher, I have friends scattered all over the world, and it’s wonderful to be able to keep up with their travels and adventures. Likewise, as an expat, my peeps in the States can virtually keep up with me—and, of course, everybody wants to see the baby.

  1. It’s great for organizing and promoting events.

Love it or hate it, Facebook is an awesome and user-friendly method for creating and promoting events, whether private or public.

As a teacher of yoga classes, workshops and retreats, I use it a lot for this reason. Although many times the people who say they’re coming don’t and the people who never respond to invites are the ones who show up, Facebook helps me spread the word about both yoga-related happenings and non-yoga-related parties.

  1. It’s the number one way to share elephant journal articles.

In addition to the main elephant journal fan page which boasts over 140,000 likes, the elephant editorial team has created unique pages for well over 30 sub-communities, from “Enlightened Society” to “elephant journal gets sexy.”

As a blogger, I can quickly and easily share my latest posts with my friends and yoga page fans. As a reader, I can pick and choose what I want to read from the dozens of elephant articles promoted on Facebook daily.

  1. It’s a good source of news and current information.

One of my favorite aspects of my news feed are the interesting articles that my friends share. I am not a big fan of news media, and I don’t own a television, so other than the occasional glance at The New York Times or The Daily Dish, Facebook tends to be my source for the latest, greatest bits of newsworthy news.

 Why I hate it:

  1. There’s no such thing as privacy.

Facebook gives us the illusion of control by offering options for selective sharing and untagging ourselves in others’ photos and status updates. But the truth is, if my friend’s account gets illegally hacked or knowingly accessed by someone other than them, my theoretically private information is no longer private.

Although articles like this one that condemn posting even a single photo of a child seem extreme and over the top, we do need to think twice about what we are sharing on the network about ourselves, our locations and our kids.

  1. It can be a huge time suck that prevents us from being present.

Back when I had high-speed internet, I would often find myself scrolling mindlessly through my news feed umpteen times a day for no good reason other than boredom or habit. Even as I was doing it, I would think, “Why am I doing this?”

There are 1,001 things more worthwhile we could be doing instead in this present moment. We all know this, yet the thrill of getting lots of likes and comments makes us keeps many of us coming back for more—too much more!

  1. That awkward moment when you run into someone you’ve deleted.

Yes, there is such a thing as too much information and too many so-called friends. Oversharing is commonplace on Facebook. I really don’t need to see a picture of what you’re having for dinner, thanks. I don’t need to know how many days are left until your wedding or vacation and I don’t want to know where you are every hour on the hour.

I tend to go through phases in which I purge the people with whom I’ve fallen out of touch and I think I will never see again. Yes, I know I can just hide them or whatever, but sometimes it just feels good to delete. I typically later go through other phases in which I add them back and usually they re-accept me. It’s all so silly, isn’t it?

  1. Don’t make me a target.

Although it is cool that Facebook is “free and always will be,” the advertising and “suggested pages” on the site are getting more and more obnoxious. Facebook is selling my personal data and user information to the highest corporate bidder and may be sharing it with certain government agencies — and that ain’t cool.

It seems the only way to avoid the hated aspects of Facebook is to delete or at least deactivate my account.

After my mini-breakdown this summer that had a lot to do with issues around privacy and control, I decided to take a long overdue, indefinite Facebook vacation. I even announced my plan in a status update, which I realize was a ridiculous thing to do. It lasted about two days.

What can I say? I love it, I hate it, and I’m not ready to cut the cord… yet. Are you?


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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