Unless you’ve been under a rock the last few days, you probably know about the recent Facebook news about the data breach/violation via Cambridge Analytica. I had a brief discussion with my friend Ross Quintana on Facebook Live the other night too, but I, unfortunately, didn’t have time to really dig into the topics that have been on my mind around this whole incident. I’m not going to lie, I struggle with Facebook. We have a love/hate relationship and this incident with Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things like data privacy, internet companies revenue models, the ignorance of “free” services, and possible regulation of the Internet. Just to name a few.
I have drafted a post that I never published citing that I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone about a month ago. And I did. But, I reinstalled it during a recent business trip where I wanted to share more content with my friends and family while gone and Facebook was the medium to do it. And frankly, that pissed me off.
Facebook Stopped Being Relevant
You see, Facebook has become a place where I don’t like to spend time, but I need to spend time for some valid reasons. Let’s start with why I deleted the app a month ago.
I used to really enjoy catching up on activities my friends, co-workers, and family were doing. We used Facebook as a platform to connect. Wow, I feel like I could be an employee right now. “We are here to connect the world.”
What it has turned into today, with algorithm changes, ads, friends and family publishing the most inane, irrelevant crap (I don’t care which answer you picked on this “thing from my childhood that isn’t around anymore” posts) it drives me insane. It is an endless scroll of just junk. I’ve clearly clicked “Like” on too many pages of interest (Runners World, please….you don’t need to post 18 times a day, I promise) where if it isn’t crap from my friends and family, it is just published content from these pages. My thumb is getting cramps just flipping through irrelevant stuff to find the one or two pieces of gold that I care about.
I’m pretty sure my friends and family are indeed publishing stuff I care about. Facebook just doesn’t seem to want to show it to me anymore.
Why I Can’t Just “Quit”
I really wish I could. Just export all my data and “let go” of Facebook. However, I can’t. I can’t because there are valuable reasons and tools that Facebook offers to connect communities together. Specifically, I run a private running group and I’m a leader/contributor to my son’s Cub Scout Pack and we use Facebook Groups and Pages to communicate and recruit. In addition to all of that, my company has several pages where I need to be an admin. If I were to quit I’d be taking myself out of some key responsibilities that I’m currently assigned to.
To be fair, these tools work. We have the engagement we want and it continues to grow, so we are getting value. It is a positive thing.
We’ve Created Our Own Mess
If we want to put a blame on why Facebook has become so important to many of us (and as a Nation) we have no further to look than in the mirror. As a culture and society, we are creatures of habit, greed, narcissism, empathy, and followers (and leaders). Facebook started as something exclusive. Then it grew to be where all the “cool kids” hung out. They opened up the walled garden because they know they could profit with more users, more data, more opportunity for advertising. Then the people came and we ate it up like a hot fudge sundae. We got the dopamine hits when we got a “like”. Then we got “love, laugh, ha ha, WOW!” and more. We just can’t stop. It’s “free”, so, share with the world and maybe we will go “viral” and get more attention.
Look, folks, Facebook is a melting pot of all that is good and bad with the world. It connects communities, it profits from our “licensing” of our data and information so they can create hyper-targeted ads for companies. We are feeding the beast because we can’t quit. Sigh.
I’m Going to Stop Here
So this is where I’m going to stop. I have several other thoughts on all of this, with the topics mentioned above. However, I’m going to try to record some of these thoughts with video and then publish those as my medium of discussion. What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss below.