Great to be back on the blue and white! (Do they call it that?) I know I’ve been off and on Facebook for the last couple of years and stirred the pot a little last time when I questioned its worth. Well, I’m back on. Here’s why I’m back on Facebook but why I’ll be off again before too long:
1. It’s a useful tool in the globalized world. I’ve lived abroad for 3 years and a significant percentage of my community lives far away. (I’m an uncle of beautiful twins so it’s great seeing their pictures everyday!)
2. As many of you pointed out, there are ways to filter the content so you don’t have to mindlessly absorb the dross that makes up the staggering majority of content on Facebook.
3. In his book, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter, public intellectual and psychologist Howard Gardner of Harvard argues that we should engage modern technologies and model responsible and ethical use, not run away from them.
So here I am back on Facebook. But here’s why it won’t be for long:
1. Facebook, even though some argue otherwise, is not necessary for a happy, fulfilling, enjoyable, activity-filled, and well-connected life.
2. Facebook is the junk food of interpersonal communication. It tastes good and can feel like food but it is really not very high quality. Reading someone’s updates can feel like I’m keeping up with someone. But I’m not.
3. Facebook steals little minutes of your time here and there. When I’m off Facebook I’m amazed at how those little minutes add up. I remember reading Steve Jobs (while off Facebook) and reading about how Jobs wanted to shorten the start-up time of the Macintosh. He thought if you could even save 10 seconds, it would add up to be a lot of total time saved. For example, if 1 million people were starting up Macintoshes every day, you would save about 115 days worth of total in a day. Let’s look at Facebook. If people logged on to Facebook for even 1 minute less than they do normally (assuming people go on for at least 1 minute per day), then of the 1.1 billion users on Facebook, you could save nearly 30 lifetimes worth of time. Perhaps that’s a little abstract because you can’t add up my time and your time on Facebook to create whole lifetimes per se. But if you look at a single user over the course of his or her life, it does add up. If you spend only 15 minutes a day on Facebook (which, I’m guessing is on the low end) in just 5 years, you’re using about 19 full days of your life on Facebook. If, as seems to be the trend, you spend just 3 minutes on Facebook but 10 times throughout the day, that’s 30 minutes a day total and about 38 full days of your life over 5 years (someone please check my math… definitely not my strong suit.)
4. Perhaps most importantly, I actually like being a little inaccessible. I like not seeing everyone’s pictures and knowing what people are doing. I actually like not hearing from people all the time. I like focusing most of my energy on my local community. I don’t care if more people read my blog when I post it on Facebook. More people reading my blog is not the purpose of my blog and I don’t judge the value of my blog by the number of people who read it.
So for now I’ll be enjoying the great benefits of Facebook. Before long, however, I’ll be enjoying the great benefits of not having Facebook again.
Love you all!
PS – I am working on somewhat of an indie beard. Thoughts?