My reluctant return to Facebook

I wanted to offer a bit of clarity as to why I rejoined Facebook after deleting my account and walking away for what I believe was at least a year and a half, if not longer. I made that decision for a variety of reasons.

Among those reasons were the following:

  1. I don’t trust Facebook as a business, based on their willingness to break their own rules and lie to their users.
  2. I think Facebook has far too much unregulated “soft” power in the form of personal information on its users.
  3. I found Facebook to be a time suck and waste of my energy and attention. I spent far too much time scrolling endlessly through a feed that never actually satisfied my interest.
  4. Study after study has found that too much time spent on Facebook results in negative psychological effects, and I was starting to feel personally that Facebook was affecting my own mental well-being negatively.
  5. I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to constantly censor myself, compartmentalize my friends and acquaintances, or mediate ridiculous squabbles that emerge from my failure to do any of these things.
  6. I had hoped to never again have to explain to people that, counter to what most people do, I do not approve every friend request–I actually limit my “friends list” to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that I have spoken to or connected with on some level or another, or who I might want to try and network with. I am not a “friend hoarder;” my friend count is less meaningful to me than, say, the melting point of vanadium.
  7. Frankly I just started to find Facebook boring. So many updates from so many people feel akin to nursing reports on patients’ urine output–both irrelevant to me and TMI for most everybody.

I still feel the same way about Facebook, and all of these attitudes and opinions about the platform remain in place.

What has changed, though, is the world we live in–very dramatically, and very quickly, the role of social media in 21st century life has swung from a metastatic augmentation to a necessary evil. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has forced most of us into involuntary solitude, and as a consequence, the digital social connections that were, for many years and for many people, optional and frivolous, have become primary and even crucial.

I still don’t trust or really even like Facebook, so please don’t expect me to suddenly start barraging everyone with memes or controversial opinions or… well, much of anything, really. I have no interest in making Facebook a significant part of my life ever again. What is important to me, however, is each of you. (“You people” made me rejoin. Ha!)

Though I may come across as a curmudgeon, I do in fact care about people… and if Facebook provides the easiest and most efficient means of remaining connected (albeit someone tenuously) to those that I care about, especially during a particularly volatile and uncertain period, then I think holding my nose while I tiptoe around Facebook might be worth it.

…for now.