… yet again.
I recently deleted my Facebook account again, although for completely different reasons this time. Here’s what I posted to my friends:
That’s all, folks…
(If you don’t feel like reading through this whole explanation but still want to stay in touch, feel free to skip to the bottom 😉)
Those of you who know me and have been friends on Facebook with me before are probably going to have a good laugh at this, but I’m quitting. Yeah, I know, I’ve been there, and it didn’t last forever the last time, either, but this time my reasons are entirely different. Last time, in 2011, it was because of the company and its disregards for its income generating user base. When I got back on in June I thought, oh what the hell. Not that I totally changed my mind about that, but I didn’t take it quite as serious anymore (which is why I’m actually going to keep WhatsApp this time, although I originally dumped it after FB bought it.)
This time, however, it’s about what I see on Facebook on a day-to-day basis. It’s not good for me.
First, there’s all the hate, the racism, and the anti-refugee sentiments. Luckily, none of you, my friends, fall in into that category, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see any of it. The comments on news articles and the news articles themselves, it’s just plain depressing. I’m probably not going to stop reading the news; I want to stay at least partially up to date, but I’m not sure I want all the details, including every little racist comment coming out of our politicians mouths. It’s good that the stuff is out there and that they can’t hide it anymore, but I already know that we are facing some immense problems, and not with the refugees but the people who are against the refugees and the populist politicians who are using this mood to either stay in power or to gain it. I don’t need to be reminded of it every day.
Then there’s the other stuff, mostly stories or pictures of the things that people do or say. That also includes comments, and sometimes responses to my comments. I’m already not exactly a people person; I’m definitely not the most social person you’ll ever meet, but some off the stuff I read around here every day really gets me close to losing my faith in humanity altogether.
Some of you might say, hey, it’s just Facebook, it’s not that important (something I used myself, a while back, but when I used it, it was on a rant somebody wrote about having technical problems with writing posts. That person went totally nuts about it, and I used that line to calm him down. In that context, it really wasn’t that important.) The thing is, it’s not just Facebook, and I think it’s more important than you would think. Facebook is shaping this society, and it’s changing it. You might ask yourself, what harm can a little picture with some text on it do? Or some idiots who write racist comments? Those people were always around, after all.
There are two problems. One is the sheer amount of those things that we see everyday, and the is that nobody bothers to fact check. People forget that image editing tools are not exclusively used by skilled photographers anymore; these days anybody can put text on a picture. And when people see something that fits their point of view, they will (mostly) mindlessly re-share it. That doesn’t mean that the text on the picture is factual, or the quote attributed to the person on the picture was something that person actually said, but it will re-inforce people’s beliefs, even the false ones, or the dangerous ones. The same goes for comments.
Two important facts to remember: One, everybody has an agenda, and two, people don’t like to change their minds. People will react positively only to posts that appeal to their own beliefs and agendas and dismiss the rest as propaganda or conspiracy. No, I’m not making that up. There are already studies, and other people, with a larger audience than me, saying the same thing or something similar. Go read up on the Filter Bubble, if you don’t believe me. Also, I know it from experience, for the one positive thing that Facebook did for me (apart from re-connecting with a few relatives and old friends I haven’t seen in a looong time 😉) is to really reinforce my atheism. I had already quit the Catholic church in 2013, because I simply stopped believing, but I was more in a stage of “I simply don’t care”. Now I do care, and I now openly call myself an atheist. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I started following some atheist pages on Facebook, and the posts fit into my world view that was emerging at the time. And I saw them because I chose to follow those pages. I would not choose to follow any religious pages, so there was no chance of me being influenced by opposing view points, and that’s the point I’m trying to make.
I find it hard to express, in English or German, all of what’s really going through my mind on the subject. All I can say is, Facebook is not good for me. It’s costing me too much time and energy, and that’s why I’ve decided to simply quit.
Those of you who want to stay in touch and are not already connected to me outside of Facebook, feel free to write a comment or drop me a private note and we can exchange other means of contact (privately). I’ll stick around for a few days to give everyone a chance to see this.