One of my flatmates moved out last night. I've only lived in this house for about a month, and yet I still felt slightly nostalgic and sad, like it was the end of a (very short-lived) era. We exchanged mobile phone numbers, helped her pack and then we stayed in the kitchen, waiting for the taxi to arrive and pick her up. And that's when I asked the typical question: "Do you have Facebook?"
Her answer was, "No, I deleted it a while ago."
I've complained about Facebook and its policies/intrusion into our lives/stupid design quite a few times ever since I opened an account back in 2008. I've thought about deactivating it a dozen times, and I've gone through with it once, only to reactivate it six months later. Now, I've accepted the fact that it is and will continue to be a part of most people's everyday lives for a while. Nevertheless, I continue to contend that Facebook kinda sucks. This is why:
#1: It's addictive.
You wake up in the morning thirty minutes before you have to leave for work. (If you have a job, that is.) You think, "let's check my email before I go", and open the laptop's lid. Then you decide to go on Facebook, to see if you have any notifications.
Twenty minutes later, you still haven't finished checking everybody's new updates, and now you've got to run to brush your teeth, put your pants on and wear your contacts, all the while thinking, "fuck, what the hell is wrong with me?!"
Welcome to Facebook Addicts Anonymous. Biscuits and coffee are on the table.
(We found the recipe on Facebook.)
Here's the funniest part:
If you google "Facebook Addicts Anonymous", you will get several results. At least the first three will be Facebook groups.
This particular F.A.A. support group on Facebook has a list of questions meant to help you determine whether you are, in fact, a Facebook addict. These questions range from "Do you think people really care about the sandwich that you posted about?" to "Have you ever been arrested for reckless driving, caused by trying to look at Facebook mobile?" My favourite question, however, has to be the last one: "Are you on Facebook right now?"
(Alanis Morissette thinks this question is ironic.)
#2: It's Stalker Central.
I had a stalker when I was at uni. For obvious reasons, I will not share his name, but let's just say it was Mark David.
(Mark David sounds like a stalker's name to me. Dunno why.)
I first met Mark David on my second day at uni, when he drove me and a couple other new people to the local ASDA to buy duvets, pillows, kitchenware and food. He seemed like a nice guy, perhaps a little weird but, you know, he was German. I gave him my phone number that day.
Two days later, I got a text from him, asking me to go out, and calling me a "stud". I was tempted to ask why on earth did he think I resembled an establishment for selective breeding of livestock, but then I decided to do what I typically do in awkward situations: ignore it until it goes away.
Thanks to Facebook, however, it took a while to go away. Soon enough, he found my profile. (I have no idea how: we had no common friends, nobody knew my last name yet and I use a fake last name on Facebook anyway.) I got two friend requests from him (the second right after I denied the first), as well as a message saying, "add me, dude!"
My Facebook profile is private, so the only thing he could see was what I allowed him to see. Nevertheless, this is just a simple example of how Facebook endorses stalking. Do you check up on exes on Facebook? Do you check up on old friends whom you hate now, or old enemies, and laugh at their misfortunes? If you say 'no', you either have no Facebook account or are a blatant liar.
Facebook basically made stalking a thousand times easier, which is why stores like this are now going out of business.
#3: If you don't have it, you're cut off.
Sure, people can call you. They can text you. Hell, they can even Skype you with details. But truth of the matter is, if you don't have a Facebook account, you truly are missing out on stuff. It could be a silly conversation about nothing in particular; it could be a party that somebody made a Facebook event about, and nobody remembered to inform you; it could be a group message with updates of everyone's life. Especially if your friends are all over the world, like mine are (I've got friends currently residing in France, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Cyprus, the U.S. and other cities of the U.K. which are too far to visit daily), you can't afford not to have a Facebook account.
(Especially when you just know people are going to gossip about you.)
Networking sites have made communication much easier, and cheaper. Why use your credit to ring all your friends and make plans when you can just send them a Facebook message? Why call your friends from your old job when you can just post on their wall every now and then, keeping interaction to a bare minimum? Why tell people you're engaged in person, when you can just change your relationship status?
Yes, not having a Facebook means you have to live in the real world. Problem is, most people live in the Facebook world more, so your real world is underpopulated.
"Where did everyone go?" :'-(
#4: It changes all the time, and people complain.
I truly dread the days when something changes on Facebook, for two reasons: (a) most of the changes that Facebook implements are usually unnecessary, and (b) people are not afraid to be vocal about it.
Take the new chat feature, for example. What was wrong with the previous version? Nothing, except that it froze sometimes. What is wrong with the new version? It's new, so it looks kinda weird. What did people do when the chat feature changed?
(Average Facebook user.)
I'm kind of in the middle on this. I, too, often complain about the changes Facebook implements, then get used to them until things change again. I don't complain every single time, however: if I like a change, I either shut up or say "thank you". But, alas, most people enjoy complaining, and there is nothing in the world that can stop them.
(As this blog proves, I'm not "most people.")
#5: People are stupid.
As with most things, Facebook sucks because the people who use it suck. Have you ever visited failbook? You sure have. About 70% of the stupid things posted on Facebook are also funny. About 100% of them, however, are also depressing.
Cases in point:
And don't get me started on viruses circulating via personal messages, or status updates with links to "Emma Wotsons bear breasts!!!1!!" or "You won't believe what she did on live cam!!"
Of course, the universe's answer to this, is to create another website that consists entirely of status updates:
Because Facebook is not enough proof that the world is populated by idiots.
#6: You can't delete it.
As I already said, I once deleted Facebook for six months, back in 2009. It was because I was going through a tough case of writer's block, and I was desperately trying to finish the book I was writing at the time, Ignore Him Street, without distractions.
[SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION] Ignore Him Street follows the story of Orpheus Hexham, a 28-year-old high-school teacher and writer who's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
It's been six months since the accident that cost Emily her life, and Orpheus has yet to remember the details of that night, or the three weeks that preceded it. His best friends, Aubrey, Cook and Hannah are trying to help him through the difficult days ahead of him, and support him.
When one of his students, 16-year-old October begins to flirt with him, however, something inside him awakens. As soon as he responds to her approaches, he starts writing again, a book for Emily's sake. And that's when the dreams and delusions begin: of Emily, of a freaky monster with tentacles trying to get him and of a phrase that takes him back to the night of the accident... Watch the date.[/SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION]
When I finally succumbed to the pressure of my friends and peers and reactivated my account, I discovered what I already knew was true: my profile was still there, exactly as it had been before I deactivated it.
With Facebook, there is no delete option. Once you have an account, it's always there, with all the photos, personal details and friends you've added, and it will remain there until the earth is taken over by Facebook-hating aliens.
And even then, I'm pretty sure Mark Zuckerberg will find a way out of it.