No One is Really Going to Delete Facebook
It has become an abusive relationship. While on the one hand, we understand that the dynamic between the user and the platform has grown toxic, we also get a lot of great benefits from it. I guess most of us are at the point where we want to leave, but we are still waiting for something better to come along. Besides, all of our stuff is over at their place and it will be super inconvenient to like move it all. It is now popular to complain about the unfair treatment of its users’ data while at the same time sharing said complaint on Facebook. We sure do live in interesting times. Still, it is generating outrage with the #DeleteFacebook trending on Twitter and moving the stock down about ten percent since the Cambridge Analytica disaster. 50 million users saw their data gathered to sway votes during the 2016 election. Yesterday’s conspiracy theory, today’s faux outrage.
Our attention spans are short enough that we will forget about this and move on to the next boiling point, as is tradition. Facebook has survived over ten years and honestly, I believe its users were more upset about the introduction of the newsfeed and the timeline algorithm than they are about this data breach. How upset can you rightfully be when the average user is willfully sharing their own personal information with a site that has had a history of mismanaging data and willfully treating its users as guinea pigs. Years ago Facebook conducted a secret study on its users to see if they could manipulate their moods by altering the type of posts that would show up on their newsfeeds. Essentially yes, it works. Facebook was and is capable of manipulating your mood through channeling certain content to your newsfeed. If that wasn’t enough to cause users to leave, then why would this be any different?
The anger directed at Facebook is really quite ironic. The entire point of the social media platform is to share content. Many people want to get as many likes and shares as possible. Maybe people really aren’t upset about the date breach, but just upset that they didn’t get any likes or reactions to show for it. Cambridge Analytica shared this post. At least Zuckerberg is sorry.
I had deleted my Facebook account years ago and reluctantly reopened it after deciding well, the world is largely online now. Ask anyone who deleted their account, you are essentially ostracizing yourself to a degree. While still spending time with true friends, some will use Facebook to invite people and forget those that deleted their accounts. And happy birthday wishes will go way down, as it is so much easier to remember birthdays when we have a machine telling us to post here. And more unfortunately, you will forget your friends’ birthdays as well. I suppose I can have an account while not really being immersed in this digital world.
I do find it peculiar that there are two groups of people that see the other side as nerds wasting their time in a virtual world. On one half, we see gamers shooting pixelated soldiers or leveling up virtual characters to go on raids in Azshara or whatever. The other half is preoccupied taking 20 selfies so they can get that one that is just right, only to filter it to the point of being almost unrecognizable from the real thing. I often stay awake at night wondering how many blind dates never meet each other because they look so different from their profile pictures. What these two groups each share is a love for their virtual avatar while neglecting their real-life person. Are our lives so depressing that we must seek refuge and escapism? Sigourney Weaver’s character in Avatar was a commentary about this very social quirk. In the movie, she was more respectful and caring in her blue “Avatar” while she would curse, smoke and simply be unpleasant in her real-life body.
Sadly, in a world of high speed connection, we have lost our sense of community. With most of us having hundreds or thousands of “friends” or “followers,” more people than ever don’t know the name of their neighbors. Perhaps the rise of depression is because we have traded our traditional tribal lifestyle for a more connected but shallower online community. The rise of anxiety could even be attributed to the fear of those around us. We watch the news tell us all the violent and terrible happenings in our society, and they train us to fear one another. It’s our fault though. Not the media. Yeah, it is so easy to blame the networks for their promotion of violence and bloodshed. If it bleeds, it leads. That is what gets ratings, which means that is what people are watching or reading.
Facebook is the same way. It is amusing when you hear people complain that Facebook is full of political nonsense or fake news. It is not Facebook that is producing this content, but your own friends. If you really have a problem with a newsfeed full of worthless memes and anti Trump or pro Trump rhetoric, that is simply the state of your friends. The newsfeed simply favors those who have the time to post on Facebook constantly, for better or worse. Those who are busy with their own lives often don’t have the time to constantly peruse Facebook. They are busy spending time with the real world. But who can blame those that are constantly sharing and posting online. You get instant feedback and a shot of dopamine that is as addictive as cigarettes or alcohol. Social media is the cigarettes of our generation. We simply don’t understand the effects of it fully. They used to say the same thing about cigarettes, and now that we understand the health consequences, most people don’t smoke anymore. Someday, when we learn the effects of social media and understand mental health issues, we may realize that an overuse of social media leads to a life full of anxiety and loneliness. In moderation, the benefits are great as we can share instantly with a large number of people. But in excess, this type of communication is not as fulfilling or meaningful as in person and close-knit communication. Online, everyone is distracted by the other conversations simultaneously taking place as well as whatever task that person is avoiding. These distractions are seeping into real life as well. Whenever we talk in person now, we are always competing with the impossible allure of the internet being in our pockets. We mindlessly reach for it at any moment of boredom. Our attention spans are being conditioned to grow shorter. If you try and watch a movie that came out before the rise of smartphones, it may seem unwatchable. We used to enjoy the slow paced and more methodical movies. Now we are growing accustomed to ADHD, fast edit movies that are high action, low substance. We like to talk about how terrible movies are like Fast and the Furious or Transformers yet they have made 12 sequels to these two franchises alone.
At the end of the day, social media is here to stay. So, go ahead and like and share this on Facebook. It is clear that Mark Zuckerberg has found a way sell an addictive product. For all the hashtags and outrage, eventually everyone will move on. #DeleteFacebook is likely just a trend for people to latch onto in an attempt to gain followers and score some likes. Just like everyone else who is writing articles about Facebook right now, including me I guess. No one is really going to leave Facebook.