Should I Delete Facebook?

by James Wallace Harris, Friday, March 23, 2018

Cambridge AnalyticaI’ve seen at least a dozen stories about people deleting their Facebook account because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Just now I read two news stories about Elon Musk deleting Space-X and Tesla pages from Facebook even though they had millions of followers. There’s lots of anti-Facebook sentiment percolating on the web right now with many users jumping ship.

But how many? Facebook has two billion users. Even if a hundred million people quit in protest will it matter? There have always been folks who grumped about Facebook. They are much like snobs who sneer at watching television. I look at TV and Facebook every day. Not much, in either case, but they both provide their little pleasures. And, little pleasures count for a lot in our social security years.

People fear Facebook because of identity theft or invasion of their privacy. But is any place safe on the internet? And if you read about Cambridge Analytica you’ll see that people happily filled out forms and shared them with friends. You’d have to be an idiot to not know that everything you do on the internet is monitored. No one pays to use Facebook. Have you ever wondered how Facebook makes its money? Our habits and opinions are valuable. Keeping America supplied with cat videos is expensive, so Facebook has to make its money someway.

When I’m on the internet I assume Big Brother and all his brothers and sisters are watching. I don’t care that they know I love cat videos and scans of old science fiction magazine covers. I have no idea what that information reveals about me politically or fiscally.

Before people rush to delete their Facebook account out of some kind of misguided protest, I think they should analyze what they get out of the service. Facebook keeps me in contact with relatives and friends I seldom or never see anymore. Facebook keeps in contact with people around the world that have the same esoteric interests as I do. And I enjoy seeing a half-dozen funny videos every day. They’re as good as a dose of Geritol.

For example, I’ve been reading old science fiction stories from the pulp magazines. I’ve made three online friends in South Africa, England, and here in the U.S. that also like to read such stories. I don’t know how many people left on this planet still love to read science fiction short stories in old pulp magazines, but Facebook has helped me find them. Facebook also keeps me in contact me with relatives I haven’t seen in fifty years.

Besides, Facebook helps me keep tabs on my wife. She always checks in wherever she goes.

I also find it very pleasant to share cartoons, videos, songs, beautiful photos, sayings, etc. with other people. For example, here’s one called Millennial Job Interview that has a passing dig at Facebook. I thought pretty damn funny and very revealing about modern times. Evidently, the young consider Facebook a hangout for older people. That might be true because most of my Facebook friends are older. And most of the people who write about deleting their Facebook accounts are younger. Should we consider this anti-Facebook movement an ageist attack on Baby Boomers?

I wonder if Big Brother finds what we share more revealing about our personalities than the facts typed into queries like Cambridge Analytica’s? For many people I know, what they share on Facebook reveals more about themselves than they reveal in person.

I share a lot on Facebook. My friends and family must think I’m odd from some of the content I post. However, I use both Facebook and Twitter as external memory banks. My biological memory is beginning to fail. I wish Facebook existed when I was young so I could scroll back into the past. When I scan through my timeline it’s like a stream-of-consciousness of what tickled my fancy. I’m sure if Big Brother applied a powerful artificial intelligence program to my timeline it could psychoanalyze my posts and provide me with the ads customized for my personality.

But you want to know something funny? If you asked me if there were ads on Facebook I’d tell you no. My mind is so good a tuning out ads that I don’t see them on web pages anymore. I do use an ad blocker, but they aren’t completely effective. I do know there are ads because I see them when I consciously go looking for them. But psychologically I don’t remember ads on Facebook. That might hurt them more than deleting my account. Sorry, Mark.

I suppose I could quit Facebook. Many who have quit Facebook claim their lives are so much better for it. Maybe mine would be better too, but I sure would miss those cat videos.



15 thoughts on “Should I Delete Facebook?”

  1. Oh Jim – no, I’m ont leaving Facebook – I get photos of my son, daughter and grandkids from there. I know it’s all connected – I’ve known that ever since I ordered something from Amazon or somewhere and started getting ads for that stuff. Okay fine. I’d REALLY rather see ads for the toys, clothes and books than for sex, Christianity and auto parts. LOL_ (I do get junk mail about my tires because I bought them from a place that sends me new sale stuff.)

    No one is going to mistake me for a conservative – I didn’t get (first-hand) any of the junk that was occasionally “shared” from weird friends. And I ignored those. I did do a bunch of quizzes about books – (have I read all these books?) – So who cares? –

    I did used to get some rather extreme liberal “sponsored” stuff based probably on my answers to various questions – maybe. Okay fine – I tried to ignore them.

    I like the cooking and recipe bits – sponsored – and one of them used to have little videos “to keep the site free” – and one of those ads was seriously conservative. I found the real site and commented that if that video wasn’t taken off I’d stop watching. It went off. That’s when I was in North Dakota and it was for a ND congressional election and guns. Now the site has different videos which I don’t mind that much if I can get the recipe. lol

    I really only order stuff from a select few places and then I get advertising for something I already bought? – STOOOOPID!!!!

  2. I agree with your points there. Facebook helps to easily and quickly keep me connected and updated with family and friends all over the world. I don’t like that I’ve come to rely on it as much as I do, but it is helpful in a part of my life so I don’t think I will delete it. I think folks need to realize that they can limit what the share on the website and I don’t mean just adjusting privacy settings. One could choose not to post or to just log in once in a long while. Some peeps I know who use Facebook to keep in touch but don’t like the site tend to do just that.
    And yea, we live digital footprints all over. I wonder how that will be used in the near/distant future.

  3. I never got into it in the first place so it’s a moot point for me … but hopefully this whole kerfuffle will open some people’s eyes (I’m not naive enough to think it’ll be everyone) when they contemplating sharing their life on social media.

  4. JW, if you don’t mind an equally ancient, but far more expecting-the-worst point of view; I’ve been on Facebook, and other earlier “social” websites (MySpace, et al) I just want to say that it really comes down to two simple things. Do you know what these companies are doing with your available data (and meta-data)? And do you know that they can extend their “ownership” of that data to the farthest ends of your on-line existence?
    And if so, are you in agreement with what the owners of those websites/services wish, hope, and intend to do with that data? Built into that last statement is information that most users do not have – the marketing of their total data and related* data as vacuumed up by the service provider.
    I left those circumstances (although I’ve occasionally dipped in for a specific purpose) simply because I believe that my data is mine, unless I allow/lease/sell it for my own purposes to someone else. As near as I can tell, Fbook requires the ownership of your data for the services provided. Is that anything different than Yahoo, Google or any other giant that stalks the Interweb?

    No. The difference is proven by what has been lately revealed; nobody whose business model depends on the free sale, resale and other use of your personal data is your friend. In fact, they consider you a crop that can be fertilized and then reaped for their own purposes. Just how far Zuckerberg and his ilk have gone with this can be learned with a casual review of the latest news.

    The caveat is that Fbook has the longest, widest and easiest to use venue in which to lay bare all of your thoughts, ideas, videos, and personality-based input on the web. And then to resell that access to as many other companies as are willing to pay a bounty. And it is in fact the “free” service/conglomerate/data management corporation that has turned a wild-wild-west attitude into a corporate gold mine.

    What I fear is that this behavior will continue to reduce the actual freedom of the Internet as it was born. Pay to play is a long and time honored (sic) opportunistic world view that actually fits well with modern business relationships. However, the zillionaire corporations are not exactly dealing with individual users on a fair and even basis.

    Either the Internet and its uses are free, or they are not. Slicing and dicing the various iterations of that statement will not solve a single issue that matters.

    If I had a hammer, I would like the legal institutions (god, I hate this) to present alternate theories of “ownership”, reality, and personal existence on-line. I would dearly like to browse/cruise/and contribute to the Webiverse as much as possible; just as long as I can stay a free and clear independent consciousness that does not owe either money, consideration, or obeisance to a person or company – like Fbook.

    *Fbook’s vacuuming up and selling all of your “friends” data as well as yours. Even if they are not members/users of Fbook.

  5. I’ve deactivated my account because it interfered with my focus on things that were important. A friend described it as a “creative condom”, which I think is a fair description. Without wishing to sound pompous, I try to be a creative person, and my time has value; I’m not prepared to add to the share price of Facebook by putting my best work onto it.

    Forget the hoovering up of my data, I am happier and more productive now I don’t have it. If my friends are interested in contacting me, they can get in touch. When we meet up, it’s much more fun and worthwhile than “Like”, whatever that means.

  6. It’s a personal decision, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, for a woman, the splendid phrase “creative condom” doesn’t quite work. I’ve modified my presence there as a means of self-control, not FB-control. A welcome post, thanks James!

  7. trinitywills, deleting your facebook account is like cutting up your credit cards. It’s not the facility that’s the problem—it’s you. If you’re spending too much time on facebook—don’t do it. If it distracts you, don’t let it.

    I like facebook. For me, the main attraction is that I can maintain tenuous contact with people with whom I have some sort of connection, even if—and this is key —I don’t actually want to see them.

    There are some friends and acquaintances that I can’t really barbecue with—it would be awkward, and there’s just not much worthwhile conversation we can share. But it’s still pleasant to know where they are and what they’re up to.

    Facebook is perfect for that.

  8. James, I’ve been searching the WordPress to chat with others also deleting their Facebook accounts. I understand your argument and why people would want to keep their FB accounts. However, knowing the technology and psychology used to manipulate the users to force more screen time was the line drawn for me. Here’s a quick video link from 60 Minutes that discusses the problem.

    I am also school teacher, and I have observed the younger generation displaying addictive behavior problems concerning their social media, leading to depression, and worse. This is why I decided to delete my account to be an example for the youth at my school due to the teen suicides in our area directly related to this social media addiction and cyber bullying. You don’t have to delete your account. Just make sure you’re not addicted to it, being socially manipulated by it, and being conditioned to embrace the new Sesame credit being rolled out, and you’ll be fine. The Cambridge argument was only another penalty flag on the field of life against the social media companies and how dirty they play. Currently, I am directing my FB friends to a new email I created through a free encrypted email system ( or to follow my blog if they want to keep in touch. I wish all my FB friends had blogs and I would follow them there instead.

    1. That’s a fascinating 60 Minutes episode. But the situation is very complex. Books, sports, games, etc. are addictive in the same reinforcing ways but we don’t encourage people to give them up. There are positive aspects of social media. We need to fix the problems and teach people safe practices. Cars kill tens of thousands of people every year but we still use them and work to make them safer.

      I used to dream of returning to nature and finding a way to create a self-sustaining way of life. And I admire people that can. But I also realize urban networked life is the norm. We are a hive society and social networking only reinforces that trait. I don’t think we’ll reject the network world. We just need to make it safer.

      1. I watched it – yes, thank you and now I know why Words With Friends did their last “upgrade” It’s been annoying from the beginning to have all those ways of continuing play but … And I’ve always been aware that they want the player to stay longer and play more. Too bad. I hate it. But I’m not giving it up because that’s how I communicate with my 94-year old mom that she’s okay etc. They don’t even have the automatic click back to your prior app anymore. You have to exit and load the other one. (sheesh!) And they have “store” where you buy power chips or something and other little goodies to replace actual ads.

        The ads on Facebook are stupid. They try to sell me things I just bought – lol – because I was just looking for them. I don’t the ads for books have much effect – (they’re mostly dumb books) – although I do follow a couple of authors.

      2. James, I am in the middle of living that self-sustaining way of life. I still have my teaching job, but we live off the grid using solar power and a tractor generator for our power needs. I enjoy the quiet and ability to work our property. I know this isn’t the lifestyle for everyone; I’m just glad I still get to choose it.
        You are correct the sales of goods these days are singular focused. Companies seem to ask, how do we make them as addictive as possible? Not useful, not productive, just addictive such as food additives, flavor enhancers, colors schemes, apps, video games, movies, media in general, online paid subscriptions for using programs, it’s endless.
        How much connectivity on Facebook is “real” connectivity? The average human being according to psychological studies can only maintain 150 meaningful relationships. I have over 300+ friends on FB. However, my 150 relationships are not online, but in the physical world divided between family, students I teach, my co-workers, and church family. Facebook is a great way to connect with lost relatives and friends and perhaps it’s really a way to feel more intimate than a Christmas card each year.

        1. Back in the 1970s, I wanted to move back to the land. I loved reading Mother Earth News and The Whole Earth Catalog. I wanted to follow the book Five Acres and Independence. So I admire what you’re doing. I also love the minimalism movement. But I’m too old to move back to the land. It’s just too much work. I don’t have the vitality anymore. I’m trying to figure out how to live with less in the city.

          1. James, my wife and I realize age will quickly catch up with us. We are trying to implement systems that will lighten our burdens when we are older, so we can last longer on the property. But, you are right, this lifestyle is hard work and our bodies won’t be able to sustain it past a certain point.

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