Saturday, November 27, 2010

We don't want Facebook

By Tracy

I came across a page on Facebook (no, I don't use Facebook, it was something I stumbled across via a search engine) that reproduces a Wikipedia entry (full of inaccuracies anyway) on John, and thereby bears his name.

John loathes Facebook for what it does (me too -- can't stand the utter breakdown of privacy it involves -- not to mention the fact [this bit is me, Tracy, not John] that Facebook addicts cut you off in real life if you're not in their Facebookworld! -- I am excommunicated by those for whom it's too much effort to step outside Facebook for a moment!) and is surprised and irritated that this Facebook page bearing his name should exist. (It reminds me of the line from John Forbes -- "even if we don't choose to join you, we do". Well, we don't.)

John also loathes mobile phones. Are we the only people who don't have them? I hope not. They too are an addiction, and they are environmentally damaging as well as a risk to health.

Some Facebook and mobile phone addicts think it's about snobbery, not deigning to be part of something because it's perceived as "too popular" and therefore uncool. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the case of mobile phones (and other wireless equipment) it's about being conscious of EMR. In the case of Facebook, it's because we don't need it, and because we have a stronger sense of privacy than it allows.

By the way, we managed to keep in touch with others, not get lost, and know where our children were, long before these things became the "norm".


Anonymous said...

Good on you for having a thoughtful response to these things. I like facebook, with some wariness, but I don't have a mobile phone any more - which has made life less stressful for me.
I think John's facebook page is an automatically generated one. A number of people had named him as one of their favourite writers, and for each 'favourite' a page is generated using wikipedia info. If the wikipedia info is poor, I can understand why this is distressing. I guess the one good thing is that a number of people may discover their common appreciation of John.

Tracy Ryan said...

Hi, Nathan

It's not so much the poor info (which is up there on Wikipedia anyway) as the association with Facebook, which he doesn't like.

(I assumed it was something like what they call a "community page".)


Anonymous said...

My friend V has no Facebook and no mobile phone either. She is in no desire to get them. Facebook like other social media can tend to constant chatter (I definitely draw a line at Twitter). I am also not against it but I know people who have opted out of it; I have thought about that myself. It is a bit cultish in the sense that if you go off-line, you will lose that contact with people (especially those geographically located distantly). I'm not sure if I'd call that "cutting off", but I suppose that could be the effect in the end.

What is interesting is that people will answer on FB but not by email at times. You can perhaps avoid people more easily by email, much like not answering the phone.

I sympathise especially on the mobile phone thing. I haven't upgraded and got into the Blackberry/iPhone thing. I can see its benefits for certain purposes at certain times (sending an email when you're nowhere near the Internet, for example). But it would be yet another aspect of life that virtual space invaded. Which is why my friend refuses both of these media. And she has a wonderful chalet so she can escape. It's bliss.

She also has a charming old record player and being in her living room is like a journey to the 70s - no dvd, no PC, nothing. Perfect for socialising in the "retro" mode.

Anonymous said...

I had these reservations earlier, but I've lost them recently. I'm mindful of Mark Zuckerberg's views on privacy that he doesn't "believe in it". I do believe in it. However, you can actually set your privacy settings with almost no private information disclosed, though. Check Colm Toibin's page, for example: just a few select photos and no information at all. There's less information there than he discloses in the "real" world. I'm a lawyer, so I'm conscious of privacy issues on the legal level, and the only real criticism I have of Facebook (at the moment) is its Cookies: they track all your preferences, and as an information technology lawyer, I can see that Facebook must be collecting the most extensive consumer database ever known across the globe. However, I'm "in" at the moment: I've set my page up more like a newsfeed - everything from the New Yorker, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement to the best poetry mags. Plus, because of FB, I do stay in contact with people I've known over my life that I would not otherwise have stayed in contact with. It is useful, and we can always opt out if we feel it's getting invasive. You might give it a test for a while: some of these things might be the reality, the future of human communication networks. It's fun and useful for now, but let's wait and see.