In 2003 or 2004, I can’t remember which year, I signed up for Facebook. I found people who I remembered from my past, people I knew at that time, and people who shared similar interests of mine.
Facebook allowed me, like everyone, to share sites, information, jokes, etc. Keeping up with the lives of friends, family, acquaintances, and news from groups was a cinch.
The more people I added the more dis-enthused I became with Facebook. See, what happens when people share the mundane details of their lives is you begin to see how mundane people’s lives are. Mundane is not a bad thing; perhaps mundane is not precisely what I mean. People are so caught up in going about their lives, grocery shopping, feeding kids, watching movies, etc. Their lives are so busy simply being led that being a well-informed critical-thinking person is nearly impossible.
And, being a well-informed critically thinking person take work. I know; I work hard at being both every day, and critical thinking does not come naturally to me, for sure.
I found the vast majority of people on my Facebook lacked information, were not critical thinkers, and were not really interested in overcoming ignorance or developing critical-thinking skills. Sad. The vast amount of dogma, their entrenched beliefs, and unwillingness to consider alternatives I found completely disheartening.
Then, to make matters worse, my contacts on Facebook had friends who were racists, bigots, and Christian fundamentalists. If there is one thing I cannot tolerate, its intolerance. My brain simply refuses to cooperate and communicate with people who cannot question and contemplate alternatives.
The defining straw was a man who declared himself to be a Vietnam Vet, a Green Beret, and a local gun-toting Baptist preacher. He essentially wants a white Christian America, with no Blacks, no other minorities, no foreigners, no immigrants, simply a White-bred America. Furthermore, no American should ever be taught another language, not Spanish, or French (oh, God, no), and certainly not Arabic. He proceeded to insult and berate a Muslim friend of mine, and was joined by other like-minded people in his verbal attack. I enjoined the conversation, but discovered we were not debating, and there was no chance of me even wedging an alternative thought into his tiny brain. And by tiny, I really do mean tiny, and probably damaged to be as hostile to other cultures as this purported Christian minister.
When I contemplated the shear volume of cultural ignorance I discovered on Facebook, and not just ignorance, but racism, and bigotry, and the overwhelming banality of Facebook, I resigned.
I resigned two years and I really haven’t looked back.
I declared Facebook bankruptcy.
Facebook is a graffiti-scrawled toilet stall in the Internet bathroom. My theory of cultural evolution states “society can claim to be only as advanced as the care given to its toilets.” The reason Facebook’s shares have fallen off might be explained by the fact no one wants to hang-out in a bathroom for very long. Gossip is spread in bathrooms, germs are spread in bathrooms. Who wants to buy advertising in a decrepit bathroom?
I doubt I will sign rejoin Facebook. I don’t want to jump into an environment which is mostly toxic, full of poisonous ideas, and rampant with ignorance. I really don’t want any more evidence which supports the notion 99% of people are mostly concerned with living their lives without encouraging others to be more adaptive and receptive to new knowledge.
“society can claim to be only as advanced as the care given to its toilets.”
I cannot handle the blind and raging ignorance of Facebook. I thought, for about two seconds, of selectively “unfriending” people on Facebook. However, people go bonkers when “unfriended.” When unfriended on Facebook people take “unfriending” far too seriously and tend to make the connection to Real Life. Again, proof of the banality and insipid nature of Facebook.
And, I have Twitter. When I declared Facebook bankruptcy, I invested in Twitter. Twitter is superior to Facebook in that I do not really know who I follow, and I do not really know who follows me. I do care, though. But, I also realize people may follow or not as they wish, like moving through a crowded convention eavesdropping on conversations. No one’s feelings get hurt if a person “unfollows,” at least that is the rule.
I only follow people I think I can learn something from or who have something interesting to contribute to my Body of Knowledge. I use Twitter to follow scientists, astronomers, engineers, programmers, and a bunch of educators. I follow people in Geography, Archaeology, Astronomy, Computer Science, plus an array of science organizations, NASA, NOAA, Association of American Geographers, CERN, and a host of news agencies, and, best of all, creative writers and thinkers, like Neil Gaiman, Tony Lee, David Brin, Cory Doctorow, Liana Brooks, et. al.
I only follow people I think I can learn something from or who have something interesting to contribute to my Body of Knowledge.
Yes, I could do the same with Facebook. Yes, I have lost out on some contests, and my Farmville farm has been foreclosed on. But, I don’t have to filter content, don’t have to ignore contacts, or choose to “confirm” or “deny.” I can follow or unfollow at will. And, I don’t have the distractions of Farmville, or Petville, or Fishville, or Zombieville, or Ignorant-Pinhead-Racistville to distract me from learning and interacting with others from whom I can learn more. And, see, if I wanted to find junk on Twitter I could do so. I know I could find all the hate, bigotry, racism, and ignorance I could possibly stand, and then some. But, I don’t go looking for it. And, while sometimes those elements do creep in to my Twitter feed, they are broadcast by unknowns, not by people who are supposed to be respectable “friends.” Or, these elements retweeted by similar-minded people using such tweets as examples of ignorance in our society. I go looking for good people, good thinkers, good ideas, good technology, good organizations.
If I could figure out a way to do start-over from scratch, with a brand-new account on Facebook, with my true name, not an alias or Nom de Facebook, and “follow” people on Facebook from whom I could learn and be challenged, I might do that. If Facebook would allow a person to “reset” their account and all credentials back to zero, I might contemplate such. Maybe. I think that would be like giving the truck-stop toilet a good cleansing, though, knowing full well in a week or two its going to get filthy again.
If you are tired of Facebook drama, maybe Facebook bankruptcy is for you.