Note: I started writing this as a list of all the things that Facebook has done wrong in 2018. It was a pretty bleak list (and quite honestly the Guardian has put together a better list than I could have) so I changed tack. Now it’s more of justification of why I’m on still on the platform.
Why am I still using Facebook? It’s a question I ask myself over and over again, and I don’t think I have the best answer. Mostly it’s because it’s handy; I can check in on a lot of people at one time. But, then, I could just message and text the people I really care about, and, you know, actually connect. And there’s alway’s Twitter helping to keep me in the loop. It’s not even like I use it for news anymore, after the warnings of Facebook becoming an echo chamber; only serving me news on the views that I agree with most. I’ve tried to mitigate the echo chamber effect by visiting sites that I know will give me a different outlook to my own, no matter how much it riles me up. But then, if I’m going to those lengths to find sources for news outside of Facebook, it’s yet another reason not to use the service. Mostly importantly, when I need a gif of a cat, Reddit is there to serve me.
It’s safe to say, Facebook has had a disastrous year in 2018. From political scandals, to inciting genocides, and with reports of the company having a general contempt for their user privacy, it seems like Facebook is no longer just a place for your friends. Honestly, if you haven’t already, just check out the timeline of Facebook’s year. Most of it will horrify you. But let’s be honest, it’s been a while since Facebook has been ‘just for friends,’ and to the company, users are ID numbers generating cash for the platform.
And then there’s Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO. This year has seen him run a goodwill tour after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, sit in front of the US Congress, where he skirted around answers to questions, and flat-out refused to appear before a coalition of Governments headed up by the UK. He doesn’t seem to show any remorse or sympathy for the situations his company finds itself in, and I don’t think has ever respected the position Facebook holds in society. Most people don’t care about who runs the services they use, but for me, Mark is another con in an ever increasingly one-sided pro and cons list.
Facebook has been proven to increase mental health issues, which I feel I’ve genuinely been affected by, and yet I can’t help getting a pang of sadness when I imagine a life without the site. It may be because, as much as I try to change this, humans are innately social creatures, and Facebook is the easiest way to interact. Also, there are so many memories attached to the service, with my personal history documented through posts, photos, and shares. And honestly, narcissistically, it’s nice to collect as many likes as possible when I post about personal achievements. Dopamine is a hell of a drug.
I’m also reluctant to part ways with Facebook-owned Instagram, which I regard as my social media ‘happy place,’ although this blissful utopia looks likely to be changed, with Facebook’s popularity dwindling amongst younger people, Instagram keeps adding “new” features borrowed from Facebook itself. And WhatsApp is forced on me by friends who use Android. So, Facebook has a strong grasp on my data anyway.
Maybe it’s time to part ways with Facebook. A UN investigator said, ‘Facebook has now turned into a beast,’ maybe we should take note. Moreover, it’s not bringing me any joy in the long run, and the pleasure I get from it is fleeting. Social Media is a great invention, and in moderation is a tool for good, but I think the human race, myself included, jumped in too fast before really considering the consequences.
(And yes, this will be posted on Facebook, the hypocrisy does not escape me, as I said, Dopamine is one hell of a drug.)