Okay, hold your fire. I just wanted to put in a good word for Facebook for a second. You’re free to go on hating it, but listen for just a second. I love Facebook, and here’s why:
First, I would never have gotten through everything I went through with my dad were it not for Facebook. I got SO damn much support on there from people who would never have known what I was going through because they live far away and I hate talking on the phone to anyone other than my mom. I’m honest about what I’m going through (within reason…I don’t, like, post about every fight I have with my husband or coworkers, etc) in my life, and people respond. They give me words of encouragement, or they say, “Yes, I’m going through the same thing. Thank you for saying what I’m thinking.” And my community is so much larger because of Facebook. My parents’ friends could stay up to date on what was happening with my dad by just watching MY page for updates. And while some people just lurk and “like” posts, other people comment with kindness and love. When he died, I didn’t have to email or call everyone who needed to know, because they saw it on Facebook and responded. That took a big burden off of our shoulders.
When I’m depressed, Facebook becomes a lifeline to the outside world that I’m physically avoiding. People I was never close to have become dear friends thanks to private messaging on Facebook. Some people are better at being honest and open in writing than in person. Sometimes I’m one of those people, so I get it. Facebook helped us find each other, identify a kindred spirit, and open up privately.
I’m in a couple of support groups for chronic illness, and I never would have found these women without Facebook. I have a worldwide community because of social media. Ditto for blogging groups, and art groups, and various other interests. They’ve helped me grow as an artist, a blogger, and a person.
Are there negative people on there? Of course. It’s the internet. Shitheads love being shitheads wherever they can. But I’ve only had to unfriend one person ever, and it was for way more than just what was going on on Facebook. I’ve read blogs saying that Facebook makes people feel bad when they see other people posting about what fabulous lives they have. My friends don’t do that. I mean, they do post when exciting things happen, but they also post when tragedy strikes, or when they have a huge pimple, or when they’re bored or hungry or experiencing any of the wide array of emotions and experiences a human can go through. So I do, too, and then we can all rejoice with each other and take care of each other when needed.
I have friends with a variety of political and religious leanings. It’s good for me to see their posts and have to examine my own beliefs. It’s good for me to be reminded that there are people that I love because they are good, smart people, who believe some stuff that I don’t necessarily agree with. Not everyone who has a different political affiliation is a bad person, and my friends are proof. We come from different places and life stories and cultures, and Facebook reminds me that a) they are different from me and b) they are like me.
As an artist and a small business owner, Facebook has been an unbelievable asset. Unlike taking out an ad in the paper or on TV, which will cost thousands of dollars and rarely get actually viewed and even more rarely viewed by the specific people who would be interested in what I’m offering, with Facebook, I can target exactly who I want to reach and it costs a fraction of what I’d pay for print, TV, or radio advertising. Since I’m a VERY small business owner, I don’t have a big advertising budget, and I’d be screwed if I didn’t have this resource. And being able to post my art somewhere a bunch of my friends congregate has resulted in several sales without me having to do any paid advertising at all. I can avoid groveling to art galleries and watching them take half of the sale price and essentially negate any profit for me.
As a consumer, I like that Facebook isn’t showing me ads for a bunch of shit that I have zero interest in. Why would I want to see ads for guns and toupees when I’m not interested in either? How do they know what ads to show me? Duh, they keep tabs on what I post and react to. This does not surprise or offend me.
Does it suck that the Facebook platform has been used for underhanded political purposes? Fuck, yes. Do I 100% blame Facebook? No. Yes, they do have some culpability, but I don’t blame them for trying to figure out who we are so that companies can market more effectively to us. Hell, it’s a free service for us, so if I have to see a few ads for things I might like, I’m cool with that. And I take responsibility for double checking the factuality of stuff I see posted by my friends. If someone posts that 99.3% of Americans like bologna, I’ll fact check it before reposting it. That’s my responsibility, not Facebook’s.
So, you can delete your account if you’re mad at Facebook. That’s cool. If you’re concerned about your privacy, alright. I don’t judge you for that. But I’ll miss you, because realistically, I’m not likely to call.