No. I’m not on Facebook

Chamath Palihapitiya

by Woody Evans

After watching this interview with Chamath Palihapitiya a couple of weeks ago, one of the early developers of Facebook, I deleted my social media accounts.  Well, I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I had to keep my Goodreads (I’m a librarian, suckers!).

Palihapitiya talks about the deliberate use of dopamine and positive feedback built into social media — we get a buzz when we’re friended or liked — and he talks about the dangers of that model for individuals and society.  I realized that I was checking in on Facebook and Twitter several times a day and getting almost nothing from it.  A meme from my wife now and then, a like from a distant cousin or loving Auntee if I posted a pic of my son, or a 💖on Twitter for floating some political pith: gossamer bits of external validation through a screen that fits in my pocket.  So I dropped it.

Immediately I wanted to share things!  I wanted to tweet out fundraising campaigns for political issues important to me, and I found myself longing to amber fleeting family moments into Facebook posts — my son fencing a dry bout at a local gym, my wife’s work on a new knitted shawl, my cat peeking out above a paper screen.  It was less about the ‘like’ and the retweet, and more about the archiving of these passing intimacies.  Not relying on a living, multi-media scrapbook, as I had done for some ten years, how would I organize what was important enough to ‘share’?  How did my memory work before 2006, and how would it work differently in 2018 and beyond?  I’m going to carry these concerns around for a while, no doubt, but the possible value of this cold turkey experiment seems worth it to me — though the librarian in me wants the archive, of course.

My demeanor is mellowing.  My outrage is becoming less spikey and more ember-like.  Rather than tweeting my representatives in government, I’ve called their offices and written to them more often.  And rather than watching my homelife for “social media moments”, I’m sinking more deeply into the baldness of chopping onions, of dusting picture frames, and of petting my dog.  For years I’ve blabbered plenty about the importance of living in the here and now, all the while letting a layer of “there” and “then” mediate my private moments — a sense of performance had crept into things.  The mediating filter, by letting more and more through, had altogether stopped doing its job.

I don’t know which way this may snap and mutate, but for now, for today, I am having conversations in real time with real people, or spending purposeful time on emails and pen-and-ink correspondence, and taking things more slowly.

I know that I’m going to miss a lot of breaking news, a lot of cool pics and poems, and a lot of smart retorts.  I also know I can live with that deficit.

 

Woody Evans is a librarian from Southern Mississippi living now in North Texas.  His work appears in Blunderbuss Magazine, Boing Boing, Rain Taxi Review, Teknokulturaand many others

See Also Previous Woody Evans Article

A Mouse In The Noddles Over Mars

Who Mad The Nazis… Cry?

The 7B2 in Handel Gothic (It is steampunk)

Facecatraz: Becoming the Warden or Facebook as Penal Colony

or

How Facebook is becoming the digital Alcatraz of Social Media

by E.F Fluff

Written early 2016, extract from a larger work

A few weeks ago, for reasons still unknown to me, my Facebook account was suspended. Upon attempting to login, I was directed to a page requesting various types of ID to prove I was who my profile said I was. The foremost of these request was a scan of my passport with its ID number unobscured.

I am remaining anonymous for a variety of reasons including but not limited to needing to remain hidden from the man who attempted to blind and kill me. The same man I am trying to prosecute; the same man who has since been convicted of unrelated attempted manslaughter. With no information privacy or safety guarantees and the knowledge that this information would be handled by obtuse “subcontractors” and given their poor track record in everything, I provided Facebook with real documents with the artist pseudonym I have used for over seven years. None of them included a photo, as I have never linked a photo to that account.

Other equally intrusive options are available, though a quick search of the net will tell you depressing stories of people whose IDs were not accepted, even one or two whose passport were, apparently, not accepted. In some cases, people are using their real names or names slightly altered, (middle name spelt different, a common nickname such as Bob, no surname etc.).

There are very few times in life you will ever be required to provide your passport with its number.

Border control upon entering and leaving a country. Registering as a foreign resident in a country. Opening a bank account in a foreign country as a freelance worker. In some places, dealings with welfare or perhaps, when going to prison.

The passport is a very important document and was historically a document of “safe conduct.” Passport-like documents can be traced back to the Bible. With the current refugee crisis, it is clear the importance of the document has not diminished.

For example, in Finland, male citizens aged 18–30 years require military approval, or must prove that they have completed, or are exempt from, their obligatory military service to be granted an unrestricted passport. Otherwise, to ensure that they return to carry out military service, a passport is issued that is valid only until the end of their 28th year. Other countries with obligatory military service, such as Syria, have similar requirements. In Ireland, you do not own your passport; it is essentially on loan from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Government.

For a company such as Facebook to begin requesting passports, drivers licenses, employment pay stubs and other varied forms of confidential ID, you would think they were an extension of a State body rather than a stealth advertising company whose largest commodity is its “free” users. Users whose information it corrals and spins into billions. Some people are there by choice, other’s are there against their better judgement but feel compelled to use it due to its huge reach. One could possible draw analogies to the Prison-Industrial Complex, where prisoners become the bread and butter commodity, spinning money any way they are turned, in subsidies, contracts and penal labour.

In these days of doxxing, identity theft and swatting, the maxim should be, “You don’t know me, and that, unless I decide otherwise, is the way I want it.” Indeed, we should encourage obfuscation of identity, for safety, for cultural richness and truth-telling.

Increasingly, Facebook is being used as a means to background and credit check. Now, unless carefully hidden with maintained privacy and anonymity settings, soon your disparate Read more “Facecatraz: Becoming the Warden or Facebook as Penal Colony”