Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I Deactivated My Facebook Account

In the early days of Facebook, I thought that social networking sounded dumb. I would rather see my friends in person than trade quips online. Eventually I somewhat reluctantly opened a Facebook account. I was still an early adopter, getting there before everyone's dog and grandma had a Facebook profile. (My dog still has her Facebook/Dogbook account, but she doesn't post often. As far as I know, my step-grandma-in-law is on Facebook, but my own grandma is not.) I admit it was fun for a while, being able to keep track of long-distance friends and cyber-lurking to see photos from parties to which I wasn't invited. (And, hey, if I wasn't invited, how good could the party have been, really?)

Somewhere/sometime along the way, people got ugly with the comments on Facebook: attacking each others' political, religious or fashion beliefs. I tried to play nice and ignore the barbed comments. I "unfriended" a few people who disregarded general rules of being a good human being. I hit the "hide" button for many people who were generally mean-spirited with posts or comments, but kept them on the friend role for acting/business contacts, which made me feel hypocritical and a tad smarmy.

Facebook evolved into a aggressive marketplace with ads and sales pitches everywhere. Online retailers would ask if I wanted to post purchases to my Facebook wall or profile. No, Big Brother, I don't want to publicize what I'm buying, but thanks for asking. Now Facebook banners pop up on nearly every website I visit, asking me to click the "like" button and post whatever I'm reading or shopping to my Facebook profile. Again, no thanks, Big Brother.

The creepy straw that broke the Big Brother camel's back occurred when a large window showed up on my Facebook page a few days ago asking me to "become a fan" of over 150 different bands, TV shows, retailers, nonprofit groups, etc... that I had ever mentioned on Facebook. Wow, there's an app for tracking everything! I know that being online in general, and especially writing a blog, opens me up to security risks and scrutiny. That's life in the virtual and literal world. However, to have Facebook so aggressively trolling my personal information across not just Facebook, but the internet as a whole, and wanting to make that information public in perpetuity, trumps all sense of privacy (however deluded in this digital era) and security.

I wanted a fun social networking website, which Facebook initially delivered. Now it's work to manage my online personae, protect my privacy, manage different friend lists and try to remove tags from unflattering photos. No thanks, Big Brother.