Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Facebook: The Great Unfriend

Forget homophobia, Islamophobia, even ailurophobia. I've just discovered that I suffer from what may be the most damaging phobia one can possess in 2011: Facebookophobia.

Up until just a few minutes ago, I thought that I merely disliked Facebook passionately, for its degradation of language (making "friend" a verb, and making the noun "friend" nearly meaningless), its perpetual presumption ("Hey, maybe you'd like to 'friend' these people you don't know because they happen to know some people you do know!"), and its amplification of inanities (e.g., people tagging me in posts that have nothing to do with me).

But a few minutes ago, while I was on Facebook and trying to figure out how to make it worth my while to be there, I noticed a notice on the right side of the page about "Account Protection." It said, "Your account protection status: Low (yeah, "Low" was in bold).

There was an "Increase Protection" button underneath, so - after hovering over it with my cursor to check the linked URL - I clicked it, and this page appeared:

Making sure that my email address of record was correct seemed like a fine idea, so I clicked "Next," and arrived at this page:

And that's when I felt the fear. Suddenly, I did not believe for one second that Facebook wanted to make it easier for me to "log back in and connect with your friends." I felt certain, with a conviction just short of theological, that what Facebook really wants is to control my cell phone for its own vile and evil purposes, such as pushing an unending stream of unwanted content towards me, rearranging all of my contacts, and using my phone to push an unending stream of unwanted content toward all of my contacts. It doesn't just want me. It wants all of my friends.

I am, of course, being unreasonable, which is why I call this response a phobia. But Facebook repels me so much to begin with that it does not take much to make me withdraw from anything that looks like it would draw me further into its omnivorous maw.

So I backed away from the account protection. I would rather risk losing my Facebook account altogether than have the great Zuckerberg zombie consume all trace of brain in my life.

In fact, I may disappear from Facebook altogether. I can't think of anything I use it for that I can't do with other things (like this blog).

Except that there are a few people whom I care for and respect who are so deeply entrenched in Facebook that I don't think they even have email addresses anymore (if they ever did). If I left Facebook, I'd have no way to reach them electronically.

Hm. Maybe I can turn them on to Twitter....
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