Someone recently asked my mum if I had voluntarily scarpered from Facebook. There was a huffy aspect to this person’s questioning as if she couldn’t fathom why I wouldn’t want to continue seeing boring updates and pictures of raw chickens wearing onions (seriously) at the price of handing over all my personal information on a plate to a monolithic company.
The steady drip-feed of creepily invasive questions is what pushed me over the edge and into the arms of deactivation in May. The tipping point came when I logged in find Facebook blandly asking “When did you meet Daniel?” (my fiancé). It helpfully encouraged me to add the month and the year. I’m bemused on two fronts here: why does Facebook fondly imagine that anyone would care when I met my fiance? And more importantly, when did it decide to become an online interrogator?
I shouldn’t have been surprised to be questioned in this way, as a few weeks previously Facebook had asked me if I’m a registered organ donor. Is it just paranoia from watching Ewan McGregor in the Island recently, or is Facebook’s next move to harvest my organs? When you’re asking yourself this, it’s really time for a re-think.
This massive corporation wants to know every country I’ve visited, the films I’ve seen, the books I’ve read, the cities I’ve lived, what I studied at school, where I used to work. Does no-one else find this really fricking intrusive? And it’s not as if I’m giving this information to a friend, or a benign Santa-like figure. It’s a publicly listed company, run in the interests of its shareholders, having unrivalled access to every seemingly insignificant detail about me.
Oh, and I’ve to hand over all this information for free. And if I’m really lucky, Facebook will pocket some advertising dollars so I can see some cliched age-and-gender based adverts in my feed.
Turns out I’m not alone here. To date, over 400,000 people have signed a petition asking Facebook to stop forcing users to install its latest messaging app. The app sounds innocuous enough – until you accept the terms and conditions. By accepting them, you let Facebook access your phone’s camera and images, call and send messages without your consent, and access information about all of your contacts. Oh, and they can send that info on to third parties.
Needless to say, I have no intention of signing up for any of that.
LOOK AT ME!
Turning from Facebook’s monumental snoopiness, I also think it brings out the worst in people. The looming example of this is oversharing pictures. If, when I met my friends face-to-face, they always showed me holiday pictures and baby pictures, I would be bored witless. It’s behaviour that would be deemed odd and tedious. Why then do it online? Call me crazy, but the act of constantly parading pictures of yourself is not a trait to be valued in another person. Yes, you’re superficially communicating with another human being by sharing photos and having them comment on them. But how is this exchange in any way interesting or meaningful? Why not Skype or god forbid, speak in person?
Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If that’s true, I must be certifiably nuts based on the number of times I’ve refreshed my Facebook in the vain hope it will elicit something interesting. No more: I’m done.