This is not an anti-Facebook rant.
This is more of an anti-”you must be on Facebook” Facebook rant.
Let me explain.
I was scrolling down The Huffington Post front page looking for
side boob shots an in-depth analysis of the possible sequestration when I came across this article about Facebook. Apparently if you’re not a member of Facebook you are a “hipster,” possibly “ridiculous,” and maybe even a “douchebag.” And if you “de-Facebook” it’s a “privilege.” This theory comes from an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, of all places.
First of all, it’s good to know that The New England Journal of Medicine uses scholarly terms like “douchebag” in their articles. Second, let’s take a look at some of the complaints raised by the article (and HuffPo’s unsigned column about the article):
Ditching Facebook has become a new, elitist form of “conspicuous non-consumption,” on par with refusing television
So people who don’t use Facebook are elitist. Of course they are! All you people with your choosing and deciding how you want to spend your time. Stupid elitists.
Can refusal make a persuasive point about one’s values where media consumption is concerned, or does it just end up making one look like ‘a giant douchebag’?”
Or maybe refusal to not use Facebook means…you don’t want to use Facebook. Or maybe you’re using something else. Or maybe you’ll get to it later. Or maybe you just don’t use it and you haven’t even given any deeper meaning to something you’re not doing.
Quitting Facebook is cool, but, like popping your collar or wearing a fedora, you’ll probably look ridiculous to all but a select group.
And that select group is…people who use Facebook? That’s one billion people. Some “select group.” But at least quitting Facebook is cool now!
And while popping your collar and wearing a fedora may seem ridiculous to people those things seem ridiculous to, does that mean they would suddenly be “cool” if one billion people were doing those things and telling each other about it (but not at the same time – I don’t think that would look too great. The fedora worked well for Indiana Jones though).
While the non-users themselves might feel good about signing off, their family and friends are more likely to be annoyed by the inconvenience it poses, hurt at being left behind and irritated by the “holier than thou” and “hipper than thou” signals it sends.
If I have family and friends who are ticked at me that I’m not using Facebook, to the point that it actually affects our relationship, 1.) I’ll find new friends, 2.) I have a lot of family members so I’m not worried about it, and 3.) it means they’re using Facebook way too much.
And how dare a person who doesn’t use Facebook only have about 9 other ways (phone, in person, e-mail, Twitter, IM, Skype, letters, etc, etc, etc) they can keep touch. Those holier than thou, signal-sending elitists, how dare they?!
Many Facebook refusers actually revel in their difference from the mainstream, seeing it as a mark of distinction, superior taste, and identification with an elite social stratum. This is consistent with Krcmar’s finding that families who chose not to consume television ‘share a belief that they were iconoclasts, and for the most part, they relished that role
While I’ve never personally understood why someone wouldn’t have a television in this day and age (or brag about it), we all make decisions on what we want to do in our lives, and that includes what we don’t want to do. I don’t think there are too many people who stay off Facebook because they think they are elite or they have superior taste. That’s usually something that comes after the person has decided not to do something. And even if these people did think they have superior taste, so what? I love Mad Men and I hate The Bachelor. If you’re the opposite, well, yeah I guess I do think I’m better than you in some way. Sorry!
it suggests whoever quits has enough social cachet or stature to make socializing on Facebook unnecessary. They’re too busy, too important to have to be beholden to posting photos or status updates. (Quick, someone tell the Rich Kids of Instagram)…And while Facebook users have made little secret of their annoyance (and even boredom) with the social network, quitting Facebook can come at a cost to a user’s social standing, one that might not justify ditching the site.
Nobody – NOBODY – who quits Facebook does a “social cachet” calculation. They just think their lives are fine without using Facebook (and 98.6 percent of the people on Facebook thought the same thing a few years ago). And please note that being too busy to use Facebook and being annoyed or bored are now seen as personality defects. If you find Facebook too much work or you’re annoyed by it or you don’t find it stimulating, there’s something wrong with you.
quitting Facebook can come at a cost to a user’s social standing, one that might not justify ditching the site
I’m not on Facebook, but I do answer my phone and I do answer my door when someone knocks. If I didn’t you might have something there. (And I’m on Twitter.)
By the way, not being on Facebook is not the new “I quit TV.” That would be “I quit computer,” if we want to make an accurate analogy (if we want to make one in the first place, that is). Not being on Facebook is more like not watching a certain TV show or a particular channel. (And if we really want to be accurate, the phrase people use isn’t “I quit TV,” it’s “I don’t own a TV,” isn’t it?).
I’ve quit three times, so does that make me a douchebag hipster x 3? Or should that be (x3)? (Wow, I really don’t remember much from 8th grade math).
The funny thing is, even though I quit, I can picture myself joining again some day. If I had to join the site for my job or I was a lot happier about the design/how it was run or if Facebook bought and/or merged with another site I use all the time, I would consider it.
But what a weird world this has become when someone is dismissed and insulted because they don’t do something. How much do we have to do online? How connected do we have to be? I’ve had this site for almost 17 years (and you can follow my RSS feed or sign up to get an e-mail when I update the site), I Twitter, I write for various blogs, I e-mail, I Skype, I publish an online magazine. Do we have to do everything that comes along online? Is there a certain level of social media and web engagement that is acceptable and if you go below that level you are ostracized? Is this entire paragraph going to be in the form of questions?
Don’t want to be on Facebook? Fantastic! Have a Facebook account? Equally fantastic! Just don’t try to analyze the people who aren’t.
And I promise not to analyze the Facebook people who aren’t on Twitter.
Hey, how about some old school elitism? Subscribe to The Letter. I’ll send a handwritten note to you every month. Guaranteed to be 100% social media-free! Have a great weekend.