From the “Well, Duh…” department comes the shocking news that Facebook is in the business of selling information about their users to anyone and everyone willing to pay for it. Somehow an awful lot of folks seem not to have realized that with Facebook, they’re not the customers, they’re the product. Whatever.
I bailed on Facebook back in December of 2013 after enduring nearly two years of shouting wars between theists and atheists and Conservatives and Liberals, pleas for Farmville resources, invitations to Candy Crush tournaments, passive aggressive rants (“I hate it when people act one way to your face and another way behind your back”) and the resulting, pathetic pandering from sychopantic “friends” (“I hope you’re not mad at something *I* did!”), clever daily witticisms obviously borrowed from a quote generator, selfies designed to “prove” how much more wonderful and happy everyone’s life is than yours, brow-beating missives like “if you really love America/freedom/justice/God, you’ll copy this post to your wall, but sadly 90% of recipients won’t”, supposedly cute videos of cats and brats, friend requests from people I either didn’t know or had spent years trying to forget, and desperate pleas from individuals and business to “Like me, like me like me.” In short, it wasn’t my thing.
This was mercifully well before the last presidential election, so at least I didn’t have to put up with all the “fake news,” but that didn’t stop me from hearing about it from friends and family still on board. That’s a whole other level of evil, as far as I’m concerned; the insidious weaving of a false sense of “community” wherein all manner of patently false information can be passed off as trustworthy and reliable, because “the media” won’t tell you the truth, but of course your “friends” will.
But with Facebook, who needs real news? With 1000 virtual “friends”, who needs any real ones? With an on-line life that’s all smiling selfies, who needs a real life that can be boring, or frustrating, or sad?
I made it a point to vanish quietly off of Facebook, with no fanfare or goodbyes. The first time anyone noticed was months later, when Laura’s sisters asked, “Where’s David’s page? I want to send him a birthday greeting.” Because who sends real cards or letters any more? No wonder the last Hallmark card I saw cost $8 (!!!). They probably sell about 10% of what they used to.
By bailing before the election, I also avoided the spectacle of users un-friending each other over their politics. I know people who were unfriended not only because of who they supported, but in some cases because despite being for the “right” candidate themselves, they’d failed some test of purity by not cutting ties to all their friends on the other side. Honestly, if I’d wanted to hang out with a lot of cliquish, thin-skinned narcissists, I’d have found a way to stay in high school.
Anyway, now the bloom is off the rose on this online paradise with the “revelation” that Facebook doesn’t give a hoot about you or your friends except insofar as you can make them a buck. Experts are divided over what that’ll mean for the company; is Facebook in trouble? Are its days numbered? Frankly, I doubt it. Like cigarettes or liquor or opioids, you can hate what you’re addicted to, but you’re still addicted. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, and when the furor dies down, folks will still be where they are today: living fake lives to impress fake friends and reading fake news, because it’s easier than facing reality. After all, we live in a country where even the President would rather spend all hours of the day and night venting his spleen on social media than slogging through the boring, downer details of a job like…I don’t know…Leader of the Free World?
But that’s another app, right? One I never even tried. I leave Twitter to the Twits.
This Old Man Rant brought to you by the specter of an impending birthday. Keep your frisbee off my lawn.