Social Networking Sucks! (Or, why I left Facebook)

Many of you know that last year I removed my profile from the social-networking site Facebook. Some people have asked me why I did so, and I’ve generally given a few reasons but have also promised that an article would be forthcoming on my site. Finally, here it is!

It’d take me a long time to explain what Facebook is and what it does if you don’t already know. In order to give you some basic idea, though, here is the blurb from the site’s home page:

Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.

Facebook is made up of many networks, each based around a company, region, high school or college.

You can use Facebook to:

  • Share information with people you know.
  • See what’s going on with your friends.
  • Look up people around you.

What that means, in practice, is that when you set up an account on Facebook, you fill in information for your profile page. You then declare yourself to be a ‘Friend’ of other Facebook users (they have to approve you: they agree that you should be classed a ‘Friend’), and a record of that fact is then also kept on your profile.

So, I took myself off Facebook in July 2006, having joined in May 2005, back when it was still called ‘thefacebook’. During that time I collected about forty Friends.

For months, then, I’ve been meaning to write this article; to verbalize the cognitive process which led to me removing myself from the site. (That’s a junky-jargon sentence for you.) I’ve been trying to come up with a soundly-reasoned set of points for getting off Facebook, which would in turn become a matter of discussion.

But I can’t really do it. I’ve come to realize that my reason is basically a little silly, and that it probably says more about me than it does about Facebook.

I just didn’t like it.

I’m relieved to say, however, that I have got fairly sensible (to me) reasons for not liking it.

First and foremost, I just cannot see the point. I am already able to stay in touch with my friends throughout the University and at other universities, using email, instant messaging, and—golly—the phone. These are all easy methods of communication. Many people argue that using Facebook allows them to stay in contact with friends with whom they would otherwise lose touch—and I’m sure that’s true—but for me, I can’t help but think, why would I stay in touch with these people using this site if I’d been so lazy (or calculating) that we don’t already communicate using the media already available to us?

Indeed, being the anti-social little weirdo that I am, during my membership of the site I only added one Friend; the others all invited me to be their friends (great!, you say). However, after these people had added me as their Friend, they never once got in touch with me. Fine for the people that I was seeing here, but there were people adding me as a Friend whom I hadn’t seen in years, had encountered in some previous existence, and perhaps with whom I had never been particularly chummy. Bye bye the it-lets-you-stay-in-touch-with-people-with-whom-you’ve-otherwise-lost-contact argument.

Furthermore, I had a problem with the use of the word ‘Friend’. Note that I use an initial capital to refer to a Facebook ‘Friend’ and lowercase for a real friend. Because there is very much a distinction: to me, the word ‘friend’ conjures up a real sense of mutual affection. My Friends weren’t actually factually friends,1 and so it troubled me to publicize the description of Friends as friends. ‘People I know’, sure. But ‘Friends’? Nuh-uh.

Like very many other people, I was quite disturbed by the implications that Facebook has for individual users’ privacy. Now, this very site is a testament to the fact that I haven’t got a huge problem with posting information about myself online. On my own site, I have absolute control over everything that is published. On Facebook, however, all of this information about a huge number of people is collected together on one site, ripe for the harvest. Someone else could post something about you in their own profile—however potentially harmful—and you’d be powerless to do anything about it. One thing that bothered me from the beginning is the way in which people, when uploading photos, can tag each image with information about who is in the photo. Very commendable. But then users can click a link on your profile page to view all photos on the site which have been tagged with your name. It suddenly got very easy for someone to see any photo ever taken of you in whatever compromising situation—whether you like it or not. You can individually ‘detag’ photos so that they no longer disclose that it’s you in the frame, but this is a tiresome opt-out process, rather than allowing your name to be attached to individual photographs.

I felt very much that I didn’t really fit in with what was expected of me with regard to the profile page. Everything seemed to have the implication of being very dating-oriented, without overtly saying so. You have only to look at the various ‘virtual gifts’ just introduced for Facebook users to give one another (each gift, which is merely an image sent from one user to another, costs $1 USD, which this month is being given to charity, but afterwards will be retained by the site), and the implication of each of these images, to see that nearly all of them are ‘dating’-oriented. Thanks, but no thanks. Some people have tried to suggest to me that all human interaction is ‘dating’-oriented, but even I am not that cynical. I find the implication here too tasteless for words.

Finally, I freely admit to being a fogey. And as a fogey, I dislike participating too much in fads. And I’m convinced that Facebook is a fad, because—returning to my first argument against the site—I Just Can’t See The Point. (See what I did there? You might call it Ring Composition. But I wouldn’t.)

When I bit the bullet and left the site—in case you’re wondering, it didn’t Change My Life, and You Can Do It Too—I was under the impression that all social networking was effectively pointless. However, my opinion on that matter has since been further refined. What I see as pointless, is social networking for the sake of social networking. Let me explain.

As I’ve written about recently, I’ve taken to using Flickr for sharing my photos (the photos displayed on this site are stored at Flickr). Flickr is primarily about photos, but you can establish relationships with other users of the site, who are described as ‘Contacts’. The benefit of doing this is that you can have a single view where you can see photos recently uploaded by your Contacts. You can also choose to determine individual Contacts as being ‘Friends’ or ‘Family’—you can then share individual photos and albums with no one, with everyone, just with your Contacts, or just with Friends and/or Family. The distinction between Contacts, Friends, and Family is very helpful, I think—it gives you a much more sophisticated level of control over your privacy. On Facebook, someone is a Friend, or they’re not. There’s no in-between.

But the central concern of Flickr is photos and photography; the social networking is a useful extra—not an afterthought, as such, but rather something you can choose whether or not you want to engage in. On Facebook, the central concern is to establish online relationships with people you already know in some capacity; the other things like photos are secondary. How ironic, therefore, that the distinction between different types of Contacts comes on a site where the social networking is secondary to the purpose of the site, and not on one where the very purpose of the site is to aid your relationship with these people.

On Flickr, you may or may not know your ‘Contacts’ offline—what draws you together on the site is a common interest in photography. Although I’m not an active user of the site, I can imagine that something similar can be said about YouTube, where anyone can join, but the common interest is specifically in each other’s videos. On Facebook, however, there is no common bond between the users of the site, except for arbitrary things that define the individual networks, like ‘we’re at the same university’, or ‘we live in the same town’.

I know that very many people continue to love using Facebook, and good for them. However, I felt I had to remove myself. Got an opinion of your own? Sound off in the comments.

61 Comments

Sinead

23 February 2007, 1.46 pm 

Richard, Richard, Richard.  So selfish!  Maybe you can’t see the point of Facebook, but that’s partly because it allows other people to use you. 

Example number one.  You may have added only one friend in your entire Facebook existence, but just think: forty other (perhaps mildly insecure or socially inept) people got an ego boost from you accepting their friendship invitation.  In the course of a year, you sent forty people a clear and unambiguous message of acceptance.  Some people like that. 

Example number two.  Facebook is extremely useful for people not quite as organized as you.  When forgetful people lose their mobile phones, they can easily find your contact details if you are on Facebook.  When you leave Oxford and people don’t know which email address you’re using, Facebook can show them.  If you fail to adequately publicise your birthday, Facebook can remind your nearest and dearest, so they don’t feel like bad people.

Example number three.  Your Facebook profile allows like minded people to find you, no matter how apathetic you are.  Instead of having to seek out common interest groups through specific sharing sites like Flickr or YouTube, people can invite you to join groups they think might interest you.  If, my dear boy, you were still on Facebook, today you would have received an invitation to join the Ministry of Truth group, which allows me to tell lots of people about a very interesting website (http://mo-truth.blogspot.com, if anyone’s interested).  Had you joined the group, your friends would then have seen it on your list of groups: some of them might have looked at it, and maybe even joined themselves.  But no.  Thanks to your stubbornness, I’ve had to take time out of my busy day to write this comment on your blog , just to reach those very same people.  Shame on you ; b

Richard Flynn

23 February 2007, 2.23 pm 

…it allows other people to use you

And that’s a good thing, why, exactly?

In fact, I already feel used.  I was thinking of editing out the spaminess of your last paragraph, but that sounded far too much like work.

Greg

25 February 2007, 10.56 am 

It’s a good thing because life is a non-zero sum game.  Other people “use” you, but by the same token you can “use” them.  Both parties benefit from the reciprocal information sharing (which, as Sinead points out, is difficult to come by elsewhere) and so it advantageous to join.

Sorry to sound so much like an economist, but that’s the way it is.  You’re just missing out my friend…

Tristan

14 March 2007, 6.52 am 

Greg is right, he’s quite smart. Sometimes it’s not about you http://richardflynn.net/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif

I wash my roommates’ dishes, even though it’s not fair and not my responsibility, but I get lots of respect from them because I do.

I’m on facebook because I understand that it makes it easier for other people to contact me sometimes, and that’s enough for me. http://richardflynn.net/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif Just my 2 cents.

The Holy ettlz

16 March 2007, 11.06 am 

I took myself off Facebook in July 2006, having joined in May 2005

You did better than me — I left after four hours for pretty much the same reasons.

J Daniels

25 March 2007, 10.18 pm 

I’m on Facebook now. I wasn’t before.

Am I on it for me? No. I’m on it for other people. People I know who unless you exist in some constant form in their life, you are dead to them. I had to go and create a Facebook page just so others could perchance “find” me. I did it because these people have forgotten what it is to have social interaction with real live breathing human beings. Looking at a picture, and leaving a textual note does them just swell.

And it can’t stop there. If you are an inactive member of one of these “social networking” sites, its the same as if you aren’t there. If your page is boring and uninteresting, YOU are likewise boring and uninteresting. You will be buried under a pile of people who have the time to customize their profile, thus attracting attention.

It makes me sick. Popularity contests all around. And sadly, if I leave, it either won’t be noticed, or angry words will be slung in my direction. I don’t fault my friends for this. They are not so shallow. They have simply bought into a system that is so disgustingly fake in its “convenience” that dialing 10 digits on a phone has become an endeavor of grandiose proportions, so colossal it numbs the mind at the thought of it.

But its okay for them. A simple textual “hey” surpasses the sound of hearing one’s voice.

Thomas Flynn

31 March 2007, 6.29 am 

Dear Richard, it does not surprise me that you left Facebook it surprises me that you joined. Don’t you people have pigeon post? But then I am so old I remember when “information superhighway” was a buzz word. I also remember when no matter what you ordered you had to wait 28 days for delivery (Amazon being an obscure term for Lesbian you see). And when floppy disks really were floppy. And when computer games came on audio cassettes. Yes that’s right. Cassette tapes.

John Gee

10 April 2007, 4.59 pm 

Dear Richard,
“My Friends weren’t actually factually friends (I did it!)”, you write.  Whether or not wonder(ing) woman’s objections, whatever exactly they were, were correct, there are, in any case, two problems with your response to her.
1) ‘Friends’ should be written “Friends” not, ‘Friends’, as you put in the above-quoted protasis.
2) Your use of ‘actually’ would go against your protestations about the use of that very term in your ‘About Richard Flynn’ section of your (quite excellent) site.  At best, it is tautology (cfr. New Shorter OED definitions 2, 3 and 4 of ‘actually’).
For you to be a pedant, you must actually be consistent.
John Gee
ps I am open to being explained to about RSS feeds.

gemma reid

27 April 2007, 9.06 pm 

Help me! I don’t want to go on face book any longer…and to my horror i’ve forgotten the password so I can’t even delete myself..What do i do??

Richard Flynn

27 April 2007, 9.26 pm 

Gemma, you can reset your password at this page.  Then you’ll be able to log in and shut your account.

Gnominator

23 September 2007, 9.38 pm 

I’m with you Richard, I recently left Facebook mainly for the picture-related stuff you mentioned. But mainly, I left Facebook JUST because I didn’t want to remove my ex-girlfriend from my friends list. I wanted to remove her because I didn’t/don’t want to see pictures of her acting flirtsy with other guys and generally posting things that I would rather not see. I didn’t want to give her the wrong idea about de-friending her, I’m sure she would have understood, but STILL, if I removed her and remained on Facebook I would have still seen photos of her elsewhere. So what I’m trying to say is Facebook SUCKS when it comes to ex girlfriends/boyfriends you’re not over!

Greg Carter

25 September 2007, 11.00 am 

“I just cannot see the point”

The market seems to disagree with you Richard:

UGK

22 October 2007, 6.43 pm 

Good on you! You dont suffer from the herd mentality that afflicts others. Not just facebook but the internet has become a very dangerous place for the unweary.

Peter M

25 October 2007, 1.04 pm 

Richard,
Well done on your article. As other posters have pointed out “the market does not agree with you” - the point you make is not to make an Internet market agree with you. I make the decision every day I hear another “Facebook conversation” to stay away from such palaces. I can keep contact with my small circle of friends and contacts through (a) fixed line telephone, (b) mobile telephone, (c) email and (d) wait for it … good old fashioned face to face meetings. While face to face doesnt work in all contexts where geographical distance is large the other three methods can step in. I use Flickr for my photos, I keep my book marks on del.icio.us, I will create a blog if someday it is absolutely necessary.
It will be interesting to see where the current Facebook phase leads to … has it reached it’s peak yet? I remember the time when if you were not chatting online you were the world’s champion bore. Bottom line is I am comfortable and confident enough in me as a person (and with my interaction with other people) that I do not need Facebook (or similiar tools) to confirm this to me.

krkkwergke

9 February 2008, 11.28 pm 

Youtube is different because theres lots to watch and you dont need to register/join or have to interact with anyone to use the site. However, online social network sites such as myspace,bebo, friendster and facebook are all a piece of boring pointless sh*t. Not only is there nothing to do on the site, but its the same moronic users doing the rounds on all the sites and lets face it most people aren’t even active users, there are millions of registered users, but most of those are dormant. Another site I can think of is okcupid.com, there are probably quarter of a million profiles on there and only 3,000 are ever active at any one time, which means theres a hell of a lot of inactivity.
If you say you want to keep in touch with your friends…why don’t you email them instead….if they were your real friends you would call them or meet up with them rather post cr*p on some sad virtual wall on myspace or facebook. And theyre not your real friends either, several academic studies show that real friendships are seldom made on the net, if we’re never gonna meet in person then I dont want to waste my time conversing or adding you as a friend in the first place. I can’t stand morons who use you for online chat, if they don’t have a good reason to add me in the first place then I block them, i don’t care if they have pretty pic or not. And I don’t think you can permanently delete your account on facebook, you can only suspend it, its still on their system.

John Mac

14 February 2008, 3.15 pm 

“It’s not about you man… your so selfish to not allow all the people you have ever met the option to contact you as and when they jolly wish” What a load of rubbish. I’m not even going to justify my reasons. Thats all I had to say. Off to the pub to have a pint with my real life friends now. Goodnight.

PenaltyKillah

27 March 2008, 12.38 am 

Wow. That’s one heckuva way to rage against the machine, Rich. If Facebook doesn’t reinvent itself… it will always be mislabelled as something more inferior than it really is.

(By the way, the two comments before mine really exemplifies the opposites sides of how we view the once-elusive Cyberspace.)

Mark

27 March 2008, 9.59 pm 

I agree with you. I used to have myspace and facebook but i mean it gets to much of a hassle and the older you get the more you move on. I mean i used to be a myspace crack head and i also made a facebook but man it just gets useless i mean i was always checking my messeges and chaning my page but i have better things to do now. I think its for younger people who have nothing to do. I can get ahold of anyone i want without a problem. I agree with you and facebook was the samw way with me i add like 4 pple then came the frriend request. You did the right thing. I mean every one acts like we need a social site to have a life or something but look how long we went without them.

Birdie

8 April 2008, 9.01 am 

Hi Richard,

I totally agree with you. After several months on facebook I found myself with a bunch of ‘Friends most of which I wasn’t particularly interested in and never wished to be. I don’t know how it could have happend!!!
Probably I am one of your 39 friends that invited you and never got in touch with you. I did the very same to most of my ‘Friends’!
There was this strange urge to get as many contacts as possible - it was like a drug! I had to fight with myself not to invite everyone I had ever written an email to. But as soon as I had invited somebody whom I didn’t care about much, I wished to remove him/her again. Of course, you can’t do that unless something happens and even then it is quite ridiculous to do that.
In the end, I was soooo glad to remove everybody when I deactivated my account. I am clean now!!! And I hope to stay clean. No more social networking for the sake of social networking!

JT

11 April 2008, 6.46 pm 

Well said Richard. I just left facebook yesterday, had it deactivated and emailed them to kindly delete my account which they did. For those still using it, by all means continue to do so. I’m fed up with this social networking stuff. I want to keep in touch with people the old fashion way (pick up the phone and call them).

We’re human beings after all, communicating in person is what being social is about, not “online” correspondence.

Jackie Snyder

9 May 2008, 1.37 pm 

Howdy,

I tried Facebook and left it during the first two hours. Too slow, what’s the point of wasting time with people you call Friend but won’t “befriend” in real life, and what’s more, when there’s flickr, gmail, youtube and reddit, who needs Facebook?

True, the name does sound catchy. Facebook. Oh. yeah.

Andre Booker

25 August 2008, 9.54 pm 

Richard,

I could not have put it better myself…If we met face to face with 90% of these so called facebook friends we’d hardly give them a nod.

Also, sending people little icons and writing on their walls is so first grade.

Nicky S

3 November 2008, 2.54 pm 

Social networking sites cause the fragmentation of society. ‘Cause you’d rather just facebook than ring someone up or meet them up. I joined facebook this May, and left in August, and boy, am I glad!

Giovanni

6 November 2008, 8.04 pm 

Hi, I totally agree with you.

Don’t like social networking and facebook is the one I hate more. Going to disable my profile too. Another one I don’t like very much is orkut but at least it allows you to use a nick name.. the only one I like a bit is myspace cause there are many underground bands ..

But yes I facebook being sort of “evil”..

if people really wanna to talk to me the can just google for my name and surname and will find out a way to contact me.. and anyone who wants to be found could just open a free blog somewhere and sign it with name + surname.. but if people doesn’t do it and uses nicknames instead then it means that they don’t want to be found by anyone.

and moreover why should other people being able to see all my friends and contact them (inviting to being their friends too)? Cause it happens that they do it for no reason so what’s the point? is just a big brother like thing .. voyerism.

so.. for me too is more like a feeling.. but really can’t like it.

also.. for some years on Saturday evening I saw some friends of my friends and I just said a couple of words with them in all that time so I don’t even know their surnames.. but now I can have them thanks to facebook.. to me it sounds sick.

bye

unknown

16 November 2008, 3.07 am 

People uses Myspace, Facebook, and other social networking sites only to “shelve” them. They want to avoid the feeling of losing someone in their nostalgic moments, so they add them to their shelves where they will collect dust. It’s to fill the empty gap in the adders feelings.

Plus, why should I accept a stranger invitation to be my friend? What so good about having a friend of someone you don’t know? Why do people accept it? Is it that good? Is it to avoid being a lone wolf in highschool? Anyway, it’s a lazy word. The proper word should be “acquaintance.” These networking sites are redefining the word “friend” because they want to make more traffic, and make it easier on the people. The non-nerds(highschoolers included) have problems.

Su

4 December 2008, 6.18 am 

I am still using facebook however I want to leave facebook because I agree that it is pointless. It is like handing your life to people on a silver platter. It is like a my-life-is-more-exciting-than-yours-contest and I am annoyed by that.
I had a lot of “friends” and I removed many of them because we never contact each other outside of or ON facebook!

The reason I read your article today is because I Googled “Why I left facebook” in order to find more reasons to convince myself that I must leave facebook.
The big problem I face is having to expalin the same phrase I Googled “Why I left facebook.”

I don’t want to have “virtual friends” because when you are really in need of a friend, your facebook friends will not be there for you.
I would rather invest my time in real friends that I can speak to face to face, than spend hours, days on facebook pampering over 300 “friends!”

Here is an excerpt of an article I would like to conclude with:
“If you see me on the street, please ask me about the new book that I’m reading, or the hat that I’m knitting, or the last great conversation I’ve had over a cup of hot tea.

And call me out if you see that glazed-over look in my eyes.”
(Cole Farrell - Why I left Facebook)

Stranger with candy

15 December 2008, 1.47 pm 

People use Facebook cause it’s something to keep them occupied. It’s mostly stupid as hell, just like Twitter and all that other crap. Facebook is a game for needy people who just want to be cool again. Overall social networking apps (like Facebook) are just annoyances and full of needy, narcissistic individuals who are willing to post critical personal info about themselves in order to gain some feeling of acceptance.
The bad part about it all is that the data submitted doesn’t just auto-magically disappear once an application is no longer in service (already explained, but apparently nobody is interested). Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

Sarah

30 December 2008, 12.40 pm 

I left facebook awhile back. I have mostly had an addiction to myspace. But have not even been on there for almost a month until today when I went and deleted all photos of me and some people who were on my ‘friends’ list that I had only talked to once, but did not delete my profile because, just in case, one of my actual friends from outside my state might try and contact me, but I did leave a return message in case anyone did still try to contact me and it notifies them that I don’t use myspace anymore and to email me or heck….CALL me.
Myspace was kinda fun in 2006, but those days are over and even then it was a lot of drama because people were not really being themselves, they were on there for popularity to see how many ‘friends’ they could acquire and if I remember right there used to be a code you could put in that would send out friend invites to everyone on myspace so you would have thousands of ‘friends’ you’d never met. WOW, what an incredible waste of time when you could be hanging out with 1 real friend in real life!

I have come to the conclusion that social networking sites are really for the lonely narcissists out there who only want to post pics of themselves getting drunk and talk about how cool they think they are, but in reality they are lame and can only find ‘friends’ on social networking sites.
Peace out!

jamie

8 January 2009, 7.39 am 

I agree. I left yesterday as it causes drama, you soon see which of your “friends” have really grown up since middle school! I got sick of people deleting me as a friend (boohoo!) if i didn’t stop to talk to them in uni or they’d heard a rumour and automatically believed it. Also got sick of people reading into status updates like life depends on it and making something out of it, when it meant nothing! Good for teens and people with a teenage mentality!

Shadowrouge

11 January 2009, 2.00 am 

I didn’t leave Facebook yet but I certainly did stop using it. I never had a point to be there other than to try to make new friends which never worked because they were never online.

I figure there has to be a better way to met people, but there must be a purpose for meting them. I need to figure out how to do this. How to give people a purpose for there actions.

Molly

21 February 2009, 6.58 pm 

I wrote a satirical post about leaving facebook and got the biggest reaction I’ve ever gotten.  I think it hit a nerve:  http://mollyschoemann.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/why-i-left-facebook/

Rivka

23 February 2009, 3.22 am 

I deleted my Facebook account 1 week ago after being on there since about June 2008. When the craze hit Australian shores I swore I’d never go on FB but after a couple of people I knew sent an invitation I got hooked, really hooked.

For reasons that are far too in depth FB became a nightmare in my real life as well as online life due to a family member. In 10 years of Online interaction in various communities I have never experienced what I did through FB. Then I really went into why other people leave and found the ugly truth of the T&C that FB runs by which only confirmed my need to leave.

I was never a person to have a huge “Friends List” because I, like you, hold the word friend very sacred but there a couple of people I do miss daily contact with.

What I find very curious about the comments to your article is that fact that when you first wrote it 2 years ago you received a bit of a backlash, however as time has gone on I noticed that the comments more and more supported your article….. Funny how people are waking up to the fact that you are right and I would say more and more are every day….. Maybe FB is on it’s slow decline.

Great article grin

Aleksander

9 March 2009, 12.05 pm 

I support all you said in your article. I think many people are in self denial. They think they are using FB to benefit them, but in the other hand, FB only benefits from them.
To open FB account just to stay in touch with people they already lost touch with, for me, is a bit silly.
The last, and not the least smile, is that you think you are bonding more with people you already know, but, sometimes you are just bonding out (i don’t know if this faze exist smile ). You are just coming down your conversation to conversation about facebook.
Ok. It is not always all black and white, FB sometimes helps to keep in touch with people whom are distant from you, but now to keep in touch with people sitting beside you!

Hal Brown

19 March 2009, 5.39 pm 

Excellent post! I am posting an article about the same thing. I will refer to this post for reasons some of us prefer the real world.

anon

17 May 2009, 8.03 am 

It is not just facebook, it is the whole “social networking sites” that suck too. The irony of them is that it really makes you anti social because you be ignoring the poeple around you so that you can talk to someone on the other side of the world. I rather be with people face to face or on the phone. Before thouse times when the SNW’s were invented, we had lest ploblems on the ‘net.

Sam Hamilton

2 June 2009, 12.35 am 

If you are tired of facebook but want a way to connect with artists and musicians then you should check out www.putiton.com

If you are tired of facebook but still want to connect with your friends then pick up the phone…

Ram Echambadi

19 July 2009, 8.41 am 

Good job on writing about this. I could not possibly disagree with you on this, even if I wanted to. I’m quitting myself. It seems pathetic really, when you have all the other modes of communication to use this as a mode of contact. Firstly, the only friends I had on facebook are ones I met face to face, whose e-mail addresses and phone numbers I already have. What the hell else is on facebook? Just a bunch of nonsense that gives you plenty of time to waste that “time” and possibly make a fool of yourself. 

“Like very many other people, I was quite disturbed by the implications that Facebook has for individual users’ privacy. Now, this very site is a testament to the fact that I haven’t got a huge problem with posting information about myself online. On my own site, I have absolute control over everything that is published. On Facebook, however, all of this information about a huge number of people is collected together on one site, ripe for the harvest. Someone else could post something about you in their own profile—however potentially harmful—and you’d be powerless to do anything about it”

All I can say about the above paragraph is “Was that a superb observation or what?” I’m right where you are man. I have my own website too. And I like the control I have over what is being published. Privacy is a serious issue on facebook. No doubt about it.

Well, thought I needed to comment on this. Good article!!! Hope you come up with other good things like this.

Cheers!

Richard Flynn

22 July 2009, 7.44 pm 

Well, *stands up* Im Richard Flynn (not the host to confirm) and i used to be a facebook and myspace addict.

I’ve just stumbled on this page by pure chance. I googled ‘Richard Flynn’ into the search box to check if there was any reminance of my distant, cybersocial, junkie past. I extingished the myspace and facebook flame roughly a year ago now and consider it to be one of the best decisions i’ve ever made.

Not only have i benefitted at work by means of being more productive with my time, and when you work for yourself there are no points for guessing what that benefit is. I find myself in a familiar 3 dimensional space aka ‘pub’ socialising with everyone who wishes to embark in some form of ‘verbal’ conversation.

There is one issue though! What of those friends you wished you had’nt left behind?

The truth is, it’s brilliant! The world is a small place and when you bump into these people again, its a far more enjoyable experience because you didnt see them the night before on a ‘tagged photograph’ of which had the unnecessary reflection of the camera they weilded that the moment of capture. 

Really good article! All of the views have very valid points and i had a good chuckle without any resentment.

Off to the 3 dimensional pub now for a pint and a converation with multipal people. Who knows who i might bump into. But at least im secure in the knowledge that my consumption may just benefit the economy a little bit.

Crypt

5 August 2009, 12.56 pm 

It is my personal opinion that while services such as Facebook may not suck entirely, but I certainly don’t find them very useful at all.
My best friend refuses to get Facebook because he feels that it’s completely ridiculous and that if he wants to know anything about anyone, he will ask them.
I on the other hand decided to create a profile because I would get constantly asked “Do you have Facebook? Do you have Facebook?” by my colleagues at the faculty. Facebook is can be great if you have nothing to do at all. Like if you’re unemployed or whatever.
Of my good friends, only one uses Facebook and he checks in maybe once every two weeks. I do the same. Every two weeks I open Facebook, quickly take a look at what’s going on, find out that people are talking about what they’re doing, which I don’t care, and then log off.
Twitter seems even a bigger nonsense to me. Why the hell would I want to let everyone know what I’m doing? And why the hell do I care what the x hundred people I know are doing at the moment? If I want to know, I’ll call you. It’s called a phone for a reason. If I’m having a coffee, I won’t go to Twitter and say “I’m having a coffee, wow SO exciting!”, I’ll instead call one of my friends if he/she would like to join me. SIMPLE!
One of my friends also does not have Facebook because he finds the idea controversial. He hates the fact that everyone could find out so much about you. And I have to agree with him. I really dislike even commenting anything and typing any sort of messages on Facebook, because they’re not private. I value my privacy and the laws that enable it and Facebook is just something that takes it all away.

Now I will tell you a sad story.
During my course of one of my classes that had do to with information systems, which means we were all using computers, I was observing my classmate that seemed entirely uninterested in the lecture. I noticed that she was doing one of those RIDICULOUS quizzes that FB is full of. You know “What colour of hair is best for me, because, oh my gosh, I just can’t decide”. She was completely involved in that quiz, like nothing else existed, staring at the screen like some sort of miracle had been occurring. I mean, OH MY GOD. At that very moment I thought to myself: “Now this is really sad. Here I see a twenty-something year old woman, that is dedicating her full mental capacity to solving a stupid quiz that some 12 year old created in 5 minutes and *is* intended for 12 year olds to solve.”. Well, at least I know, why she did so well on the exam.

I would like to apologize for any typos, English is not my primary language.

jmelewis

4 September 2009, 3.24 pm 

Facebook screws you up…. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmelewis/3839068671/

Lou

10 October 2009, 1.57 am 

I was never really into myspace, but earlier this year I joined FB and soon got hooked.  I became obsessed with adding more and more “friends.”  I ended up with a lot of people on my page that I hadn’t seen in years and years.  For a while it was fun to catch up, but then it turned ugly.  My father began chatting up a woman that he had an affair with several years ago.  Does he not realize that his flirations are there on his wall for everyone to see?  And what am I supposed to do/say?  It was like he was daring me to tell my mom.  I finally couldn’t take it anymore and so I left.  Perhaps I am a coward but I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.  I obviously don’t like confrontaton/drama and grew weary of the politcal rantings and the one-upmanship.  I deactivated my acct. two weeks ago and while I fight the urge to log back in, I feel calmer and more productive.  Perhaps I am out of the loop.  But as the old saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss.”

Memoman

12 October 2009, 10.49 pm 

I agree with your view. Facebook, Myspace, Youtube etc. are lowsy forms of social interaction.

Dave

2 November 2009, 3.05 pm 

I agree with you Richard, as well as with Gnominator. I am in the middle of what will soon be a divorce, but yet on Facebook, I still have my wife as my wife even though she is happily living somewhere else. I don’t like the whole writing on eachother’s wall. Posting your status messages. It seems like my wall gets filled with clutter that means almost nothing to me. I joined Facebook a few months ago and found some old high school friends. Since then I have had friend requests and have this long list of friends, but yet very little communication.  But that has been the extent of it. I find it all pointless unless you are actually going to get together with the people on your friends list. I will soon probably be deleting my account altogether too.

Chris Catignani

1 February 2010, 8.50 pm 

Congrats Richard!

When I first saw facebook years ago I thought, “what for?”. I guess being an old internet blazer in the early days kind of damped the “social networking” thing. Way too many trolls now days. Just glad to be part of the new generation of technology users…the “slowies”. We don’t read (or reply) to every email. Hell sometimes we go days without checking. We actually write letters with stamps! We leave the cell phone at home a lot. We ditch cable and opt for directional antennae. Slow down. Socialize old school…face to face.

new orleans lady

7 February 2010, 2.57 am 

Facebook is downright creepy.  People who use it to ‘update their Friends’ each time they take a sh*t, including many of my close friends, are LOSERS.

TMK

12 February 2010, 7.18 pm 

I have to do a debate whether Hi5/Facebook/Orkut is good or bad. My team is playing that it’s bad. I know some reasons it is, but your article and some of the comments helped a lot. Thanks.

Mrt

1 May 2010, 8.30 pm 

Well i just deleted my account after 3 year being on it and i feel really good about it almost cleared headed lol. I was nice at first looking up some old friends and looking at some old school photos from 25 years back but then something had changed , people started to look for attention. Facebook is not the place for support, you call up your buddies go for coffee or a beer or whatever , most of the time people are more interested in transmitting but not receiving just like twitter. I still enjoy join real forums of interest and have a real conversation on the subject. Micro Twits or tweets that you get on face book and twitter is completely useless.  What you have is a tool to communicate but nobody really knows how to do it properly ok i will include myself in there . that is why i left.  You start to think well if i had not heard from all these guys in years now then all the sudden you have everybody wanting to be your friend again but there is nothing there and you see the reason why there is no point in it. SO i leave with this message. NICE TO SEE YOU ALL BUT IT IS TIME FOR ME TO GO, I WILL DROP BY AGAIN SOMEDAY,MAYBE IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS TO SEE HOW YOUR ALL DOING… LOL. BUT IF YOU REALLY NEED TO TALK MY PHONE AND MY HOUSE IS OPEN TO YOU.

ER

7 May 2010, 9.45 pm 

I recently deactivated my FB account after numerous changes in the privacy policy and the annoying things about updates and the so called ‘improvements’ attempted. 
I have to say that after having done so and also deactivating an old MySpace account, I felt so free and liberated.
There is absolutely no reason why I need to be on FB to keep in contact with friends.  Those I want to keep in contact with I have and they know how to reach me.

Edward

22 May 2010, 9.38 pm 

Great job on writing about this, I totally agree with you Richard.
Social networking is evil.

DAVE

5 June 2010, 12.06 am 

Couldn’t agree more Richard. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo and other social networking sites are nothing but lame ways for people to claim that they are “popular”...just because one has over a few hundred friends DOESN’T mean that they are popular AT ALL o_O

Lycia

8 June 2010, 2.07 am 

HA! I made it exactly 4 months. I left for pretty much the same reasons. So does that make us socialy odd or what?

Laura

9 June 2010, 8.49 pm 

I agree with you 100%. I liked facebook at first when I only had a few of my friends on it-we could exchange pictures. Then people I don’t keep in contact with started adding me as friends-ugh! If someone wants to talk to me they can, but they are not interested in me they are only interested in talking about themselves.

Vaibhav

24 August 2010, 2.51 pm 

MOLLY
I wrote a satirical post about leaving facebook and got the biggest reaction I’ve ever gotten.  I think it hit a nerve:  http://mollyschoemann.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/why-i-left-faceboo

WOW! molly thats absolutely true….U are now my favourite writer :D ... what you wrote is 100% true

Scott

14 September 2010, 7.03 am 

I have to say that you people are beautiful!  I thought I was the only person on the planet who hated social networking.  Facebook is a big popularity contest, and whoever has the most friends wins.  Richard Flynn, great job with the article.  You guys give me hope in humanity!

Nikki

13 October 2010, 8.16 pm 

After having reluctantly joined Facebook about a year and a half ago, I’m proud to say that I will be deactivating/deleting my account very, VERY shortly. Facebook is a virtual environment that is RIPE for drama to blow up and I’m just sick of the whole deal. There’s really nothing all that healthy about interacting with people you barely know and putting all your personal info/activities/comings and goings out there for the whole world to consume. FB doesn’t bring people together at all, it actually CORRODES real, genuine friendships! It’s not healthy at all and contributes to the breakdown of real, meaningful conversation and interaction. Facebook is nothing but, as many others have already observed including my fiance, a stinking ratrace. It’s nothing more than a game, a stupid popularity contest. There’s a woman on my ‘Friends’ list who in real life is a complete loner and in fact has no friends and doesn’t get out at all, yet has people kissing her a$$ on FB. We’re all in our 30’S AND 40’S!!! It’s high schoolish, draining and stupid and I’m just sick of the whole deal so I’m deleting my account PRONTO. I never liked FB at all anyway!  From now on I’ll be keeping contact with family members and my REAL friends via good old fashioned phone calls and email!!!
And guess what: I feel more productive already, just having made the solid decision to delete my account for good. Once upon a time I was functioning just fine without FB or Myspace for that matter. Good riddance to both!

Nachos

25 October 2010, 1.10 pm 

I really respect this writing and those who responded sensibly to it. I searched for essays from people who doesn’t get along with facebook, just like myself. Obviously, we have similar reasons, do we? I don’t really see the point either. The thing is, most people that I met these days usually claim that not joining the network is some sort of a social suicide. I don’t agree with that. You explained the (superficial, if I may say so) concept of relationship very well: it’s either “friend” or not. And I also agree that the networking system sounds more like “today’s fad” and I also think it’s more for people who enjoy this kind of online popularity. It comes with a risk, of course. I’m glad that I’m not the only one thinking that way.

For those who think that social networking can solve the problem of those who doesn’t feel like they exist or claim that “it’s for the people, so make your page not boring” I think you understated the meaning of true friendship. You don’t solve that with “texts” or “posts”. Come on, you can do a lot better than saying that crap. If you do care, meet them face to face. Give out your real voice. Touch them. There’s a reason why they use animal assistance with dogs, cats and dolphins to help treat those with psychological problems in social interaction. That’s the magic of touch and warmth for you.

I do keep an FB, and at a certain limit social networking can be useful, but it’s not to replace real-physical relationship. People who engage actively on real encounters with people will see my point here, just as you do. I very seldom update or post anything there.

This is a well-written article. Appreciated.
English is not my primary language, btw… Sorry for typos.

jas

1 November 2010, 6.56 am 

You have no life if your social networking is done thru facebook. I can count my friends on 1 hand. I left facebook after 5 years..its total bs…I saw the movie, what a creep mark is? After a while people will judge you because of what u have become. U need to move on.. Facebook is for losers and there are 500 million of them. (including me for 5 years) HA HA NO LOL

haole on maui

14 November 2010, 10.35 pm 

I’ve never had a facebook and I never will..I actually felt like I was one of the only ones in this world who thinks social networking is ridiculous..I have lost respect for so many of my friends and some family for thinking it’s “normal” to communicate this way..I just turned 30 Richard and I’m proud to be a “fogey” just like you-following the crowd is for losers anyway and I love telling people I don’t have a facebook when they ask, they look at you like you are some sort of alien and I love that..The 500 million facebook users in this world need to get real lives..pick up the phone, meet face to face, shake hands, hug, interact in a human way not in a robotic one! Facebook=The downfall of humanity.

Budro

8 January 2011, 4.39 pm 

I also thought that I was the only tech savy person that boycotts social networking, mostly because I enjoy my privacy. Another good thing about not being involved with social networks is: if you ever get in trouble with law enforcement, this makes it easier for your lawyer to represent you. Prosecutors can use your “Friends” against you if they have questionable lifestyles. My real friends have my phone# that has been the same for 8 years. If they lose my number, they know where I’ve been living for 15+ years. This next month I’ll become a 28 year old “fogey” and proud of it. While I do post on various blogs (mostly local news sites) you won’t hear any Tweets from me. I’ve never had a myface, spacebook, buzzing, or twit account; and plan to keep it that way.

Agreed: “Facebook = The downfall of humanity.”

Eduardo Grüdtner

17 May 2013, 1.20 pm 

Richard, you did what you had to do. smile Facebook sucks, Orkut sucks, photolog.com sucks, myspace sucks, and all social network suck. I´ve been to FB for nearly 9 years now, and last year, after some kind of indentity crisis, I´ve realized FB was the great satan of my life. ‘Mean it got me too looking foward to get an answer, to get people going to my events, to date, or whatever. Maybe I’m just a looser. But rather be a looser offline, with more discription, then online, with all the attention people do to other’s disgrace. It is not only about facebook. ‘Tis about out dependence on tecnology. Tecnology is been misunderstood by consumism. We don’t need all this sh*t. Otherwise, how have we managed to live up so fara, without them? Maybe I’m getting old before the time. But its true when you say most people in your friends list just ain’t your real friends. It’s like they are proud to have a lot of friends, and not have real friends. Our world is getting superficial, starting by the relationsips. I see younger people in college (and everywher else) who need desperatly to have some gadget on their hands, like a touchscreen celphone or a tablet. They believe that’s what they are. Take it out from them, and they’´ll freak out. Maybe in the US or UK, as first worlds country this phase has already passed and maybe you’re already in another one, probably more complex. But here in Brazil, economic-social gap is larger, so the rich, as always lead the way with news that came from, mostly North America or Europe. And the poor always try to copy. Why? Because TV, with stupid soap operas, soccer matchs, mostly recently internet (specially the ads at fb)and other telecomunications channels tells them that! Buy a nike, or be a looser, no matter how expensive it is. Maybe even the counterfit version, dont matter, you HAVE to wear a nike, in order to look cool. In 2007 I went to US. And I noticed that nike wasn’t such a poweful trademark there. Maybe because unitedstatian market has more competition, with better trademarks, so its more balanced then here. Also, nike there, is just not as expensive as here, sometimes less the half the price for the same pair of sneakers here. Another exemple: mcdonalds: there, they eat it in breakfast, sometimes on a dayli basis. Here, it is for special ocasions, mostly on weekends. Some freaky children even get to celebrate birthday parties there. The proof of being poor, not as individuals, but as a whole contry, that follows first world’s failed trends. I dont want to mislead the subject of facebook, and social networks, but I see it is all related. In less then 10 of facebook existence, most of us people living on Earth became dependent on it. No just FB or social networks, but all tecnology. Ok, I also use e-mail, send and recieve, sms, and things like this. But, for X-sake, if you’re walkin on the sidewalk, hear the sound of sms or email incoming, can’t you stupid wait to cross the crossinglane to answer it? If you’re on a meeting,  an important one, reunion, can’t you turn off you cellphone for a few moments, in order to be really present there? I see a lot of dumb walking ant txtmsgin. I see a lot of people leaving the meeting/class rooms to answer the phone, and have louds and emotional/angry conversations. This means that we always want to do more thant one thing at a time. Thus, we do no one, nor the other well done. Worse: we annoy other like me, that have nothing to do with they’re hyperactivness, by bumpin on the St., or makin them (me included) listen to celphone conversations. Bottom of line: facebook is designed to be vicious, get you addicted. You are the product, the longer you stay online, the larger will be their profits. I thought about writing a book about it all. Initially in portuguese, of cours.But could use some help translating it, or even other ideas. I’m open to your suggestions. ‘Mean the ones who agree with Richard and me. Not the ‘slaves’ blinded by fb. Sorry about the english mistakes,it has been a while since I last wrote english.

Aditya

6 October 2013, 9.58 am 

Hey,

It’s been nearly a year since I left facebook and I couldn’t be happier.. Facebook sucks the joy out of you by having you compare your real life with another person “happy” online portrayed life.

By continual use of facebook not only does it make you feel you have a lack of happiness in life but also makes you ungrateful for the things that you do have in your life… A few of my friends have quit facebook now after Seeing me quit and they have told me that, they thought quitting Facebook was impossible.. I guess, People just need evidence that its possible and I’m glad you’re inspiring people to do that.. Good work.. And may all the good come to you..

See ya..

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