Just after Christmas I closed my Facebook account. Well, hid it from public view as actually deleting a Facebook account requires negotiating pretty impenetrable interfaces and endless requests for confirmation of why, when, what, who, where and how you would like to close the account.
At the time it was intended to be a short break away from post-festive moaning in my news feed, and from one or two persistent irritants. I had also grown weary of the continual need to check my privacy settings every time Facebook updated something: why a social networking site cannot have a default setting that means privacy is protected unless users expressly opt out, is beyond me (and implies potentially scurrilous motives on behalf of the site).
Almost five months on I have yet to reopen the account. I think my affection for Facebook no longer exists. Sure, I miss certain elements of keeping in contact with old friends, and the instant ability to see photos and share news, but on the whole it is refreshing and liberating to once again be largely conducting my social life away from touch screens and keyboards. As for staying in touch with people who are not in my immediate locality I can use the computer for other things, such as to email. Sometimes I text and I even speak to people on the telephone. Wow, like crazy old school communications eh?
I had thought that lack of internet at home was part of my reasoning for staying away from FB so long but I still blog, I still check into other sites whenever I use the local library or take my laptop to a free Wi-Fi location. So it must be Facebook itself I tired of. Perhaps it is the fact that it has come to embody a Baudrillardian nightmare and become a veritable desert of the real? Perhaps it is just the overall smugness of the site itself? Yes, yes, it might well be the most successful social networking site the world has yet known, but the fact that it shows so little respect for its consumers’ privacy never sat well with me. I found I was always annoyed by upgrades and another round of rechecking my settings. It reached a point when I realised that internet sites should be treated in the same manner as television programmes: if you don’t like them, don’t engage with them.
As a consequence I find I spend far less time gawking at the often parochial world of the hyperreal and more time in the physical world. In your face Jean Baudrillard!