My Reasons for Not Trusting Facebook, As Well As How and Why I Got Kicked Off the Site
With Facebook going public – its stock, FB, is currently around $27, having nosedived dramatically from its initial offering price of $38 last week – and all the hype about Social Media, I would like to tell you how I really feel about Facebook. But before I do, let me inform you that I was kicked off Facebook. That’s right: I was shown the door and told never to return. I’ll tell you how and why that happened at the end of this piece.
But first, here are some of the reasons I don’t trust Facebook:
1) There are no good ideas that EVERYBODY buys into.
Pretty much everyone you and I know is on Facebook. Why? Is it because it’s such a great idea? No, it’s because everyone else is on there. Let me ask you: Are people inherently brilliant? Do they typically make very intelligent decisions? Have you watched the news lately? People are inherently crazy, which is how a city like Las Vegas can exist, how lawyers can exist, how tattoo parlors can exist, how Obama can be in the White House… Need I go on?
People don’t come up with great ideas that everyone buys into: which is why everyone did not buy Apple stock when it was $5 a share – including me! – and why now is NOT a good time to buy gold (or Facebook, for that matter) – because everyone knows about it. Once everyone knows about something, it’s a dead deal. You want to get in on something when everyone else thinks it’s foolish – like when Apple stock was $5 a share. I remember how everyone was predicting the end of Apple – this was back in late 1996, early 1997. PC users were ecstatic. Yet, as a loyal Apple user, I knew Apple wasn’t going away, and I knew it would come back great guns. Unfortunately, I had no money at the time, so I missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. You, too?
My point is, you don’t jump on a band wagon that everyone else is jumping on. You wait for one to come along that you can believe in, that everyone else seems to be ignoring. That’s when you jump on. I believed in Apple back in 1996, which is why it would have made sense for me. I just failed to jump. 🙂
2) Facebook, a web site for making “friends,” was started by Mark Zuckerberg, a guy that had no friends.
Okay, he had one. If you saw the movie, The Social Network, you know the story. Zuckerberg was such a jerk (his girlfriend’s label, not mine), that, by the end of the movie, he had lost even that one friend. Let me ask you: if a guy is a jerk and has no friends, and he invites you to his house for a party, will you go? Of course not. Yet, you would join his web site? It just doesn’t make sense for a guy with no friends to be known for a web site where you make “friends” – unless those people you are connecting with really aren’t friends at all.
A virtual friend is an illusion, if not a delusion. I know people on Facebook with thousands of “friends.” If they died tomorrow, do you think those people would show up at their funeral? Do you think they’d even care? Hardly. We are living in an era full of illusions and, consequently, delusions. You hear a lot of talk today about someone being “real” (especially in politics, which is an oxymoron). Yet, how many real people are there out there living real lives? Not many – because most people are buying into this virtual, delusional world that we’re surrounding ourselves with. As in the movie The Matrix, we are so disconnected from the real world that, one day, we are going to wake up and not know the difference.
Life isn’t about making virtual friends, it’s about making real friends. It’s not about doing virtual good, it’s about doing real good. At the end of our lives, we aren’t going to be remembered for the virtual friends we made or the virtual things we did; if we’re remembered at all, it’s going to be for how real we were.
3) There is no proof to back up any of Facebook’s claims.
It is common knowledge that Facebook is having a hard time connecting advertisers with their members; which, I will add, is the kiss of death for a web site that wants to go public. So, what is the proof that Facebook “works,” or, for that matter, that any social web site works? There is none. As much hoopla as there is over social media in general, and Facebook in particular, there are no numbers to back it all up. Why? Because advertising – traditional advertising as well as social media – is not a science. That has been the problem with advertising from its beginning – no one can “prove” that advertising works. It just makes sense. It makes sense that if you want people to know about your product or service, and if you tell them about it through the various media outlets, then they will know. Even though it is simple logic, no one can prove that the way the public learned about a particular product or service was through a particular ad.
Most advertising takes place by word-of-mouth. So, how many of those people actually saw the ad? No one knows, not even the people who saw the ad. Because, interestingly, most people don’t remember where they heard about something. But common sense tells us that some of them MUST have seen it for there to be so much word-of-mouth going on. So the creators of the ad take the credit; but no one knows for sure if they deserve it.
It’s the same with Facebook and other social media sites. No one knows if all the time and energy being put into those sites are working or not. So, you have 5,000 friends on Facebook. So what? What has that gotten you? You don’t know, but you keep right on adding more friends to the list in the hope that one day it’s all going to turn into something. What? That you are the most popular person on Facebook? So what? That some of those “friends” find their way to your web site and check out your company? Maybe.
I’m not trying to be a pessimist, but I think we’re putting a very large number of our eggs into a very small basket that, as yet, is unproven. What if we were spending all that time and energy doing something productive? Maybe our economy would turn around overnight, instead of taking years and even decades. Social media sites give us the feeling that we are connecting with other people and the feeling that we are accomplishing something, but there is no product at the end of the day to prove either of those assumptions. It is, in my opinion, just another illusion in a society that is increasingly being built on illusion rather than reality.
4) Who is looking at all that personal information being put on Facebook?
Your “friends,” but who else? Your enemies? The government? Some hacker or would-be blackmailer? You at least know it’s being looked at by Facebook staff.
I would not want a lot of personal information about me to be floating around the web for anyone to see. Only trust your real friends with your personal life. Those people on Facebook are not your friends, so stop calling them that. They’re acquaintances at best and most are just strangers. That’s at least one thing that I prefer about LinkedIn and Google+: they distinguish between friends and acquaintances. You should as well.
5) And finally, should one web site or organization have this much influence?
Supposedly, Facebook has 845 million monthly active users, or about half of all Internet users. Is that healthy? As someone who believes that small businesses, small towns and small governments are the backbone of America, I’m against anyone having that much influence. So, no, it’s not healthy because it makes very gullible, very vulnerable people even more so.
Okay, How and Why I Got Kicked Off Facebook
Like you, I trusted that these people I was connecting with really were my “friends.” One day, I asked one of my “friends” if I could add them to my email list, because I send out an article about every two weeks that I thought they might be interested in (like the one you’re reading now). They answered, “No, but I can report you to Facebook as a spammer;” and so they did. My Facebook page was immediately shut down. I have emailed Facebook multiple times over the past several years and gotten no response.
My conclusion: Mark Zuckerberg is not the only jerk at Facebook. There is no excuse for treating people with such disregard. This experience reinforces the impressions I had from the movie The Social Network: that these people are totally disconnected from reality, that they want to play god by controlling other people, and that they would do anything to get rich. I do not want people like that in my life. Do you?
In spite of how I feel about Facebook, I do believe in the concept of social media – it is basically electronic word-of-mouth, which is a good thing – and that there are some good social media sites out there, for whom most of what I’ve said about Facebook does not apply. I will be covering some of them in the future.
Waitsel Smith, June 4, 2012
For more on Christian Culture, go to my Christian Culture website.
Text © 2012 Waitsel Smith. Mad Magazine Cover © 2011 Mad Magazine. Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Photo Unknown Source. All Rights Reserved.
COMMENTS FROM READERS LIKE YOU:
[Send me yours and I’ll include them on this page.]
You do realize The Social Network is a highly fictionalized retelling of Mark Zuckerberg’s story, right? I think most of your complaints about Facebook come from expecting something – friendship – that social media will never provide. Facebook is about sharing information and content with people you already know. I’m sorry you got kicked off Facebook, but I think a lot of this article is a mix of emotion and misinformation. – Jay
I do realize that The Social Network was the “unauthorized” telling of the story – not necessarily fictionalized. There is a difference.
I never expected friendship from Facebook. What I did expect was the ability to connect with people in a meaningful way, the way you are able to do on LinkedIn, to a certain degree, and the way you are able to do in any setting that has value – whether it is a social club, sports team, church group, professional organization or what have you. Superficiality is what I would say Facebook deals in. What it should be dealing in is meaningful communication. Notice I did not say meaningful relationships. I know that that would be an unrealistic expectation.
I have no emotion about this subject. I own a creative firm that advises our clients on social media. This is my honest assessment of Facebook. If you stick with me in the weeks ahead, you will see that I have an equally unemotional, but more positive view, of some other social media sites. And, while my information is editorial in nature rather than documentary, it is still based on facts. – Waitsel
I like you, Waitsel. You think, and I like the way you express yourself. Refreshing. – Rod, Atlanta
I have been getting your updates for a while and, though I don’t normally have time to read them all, most of the ones I do read are very refreshing. You didn’t miss the mark on this one. My family and I made the decision a while back to not join Facebook. Joining something “hip” just because it is hip is not a reason to be a part of something. Keep up the good work! – Robert
You rock!!! Keep pushing the envelope!!! – Kathy, Atlanta
What a read!!! I am on Facebook but don’t go there very often – joined it b/c of my granddaughter, but she doesn’t post much except “quote of the day.” I have thought seriously about getting off and this may add more fuel to the fire. I’m afraid sometime down the road that our computer world is going to destroy us – really!! Can you imagine what would happen when some nut(s) can shut down the world b/c all revolves around a computer. I don’t know much – this may not be possible – but it’s a thought I’ve had and said many times. – Phyllis, North Carolina
That actually happens in the Bruce Willis movie, Live Free Or Die Hard. You might want to rent it. It is the only Die Hard movie that is rated PG-13. (The others are R.) The only thing the bad guys are not able to shut down with computers are the utility companies; so they have to do that manually, which they try to do. Very interesting and entertaining flick. – Waitsel
Your comments make perfect sense. Check out this Reuters article: “1 in 3 Facebook Users Getting Bored with the Social Network” / “Ads Don’t Sway Users” – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/05/net-us-facebook-survey-idUSBRE85400C20120605 – Charles, Atlanta
I read the info on Facebook and I agree 100%. I now spend half my time assisting job seekers find new positions – “voluntary outplacement” – through the various church programs. I advise every job seeker to get off Facebook. Recruiters/HR folks report that the first thing they look at when seriously looking at a candidate is their Facebook page. Sometimes they even make the candidate “friend” them so they can see the entire page. You have no control over what others may post about you. Get off and keep off Facebook.
As an investment, Facebook is going to crash and burn – it is Sony Walk-Man and will be replaced by something superior. But, Zuckerberg will still be rich! – Basil
Very interesting, Waitsel. I enjoy Facebook a great deal, and I use to two-fold: 1) to stay connected with people I do know who are spread throughout America (and around the world), and 2) it has been a powerful way to share the Gospel with others. I’ve seen it make an impact with unbelievers and those who are exploring. That’s just social media in general, I guess.
I do use Twitter as well, but just haven’t quite got into the groove with that (and most people I know don’t use it that much). Personally, I don’t bow down to FB or Apple or any of these technological giants. I think Steve Jobs had just as many, if not more, demons than Mark Z. I use both of their products, but use them for my needs (and don’t get caught up in the hoopla).
Anyway, I would be hacked by FB by their response as well. Until a more broad alternative is widely utilized by people I know, I will stick with it. I don’t put anything on there I wouldn’t want anyone to know about me, so I don’t worry about it too much. (But I also don’t trust the govt. either… but that’s a whole other topic).
Have a good one, and thanks for the good work that you do. – Mike, Atlanta
Mike, I would seriously consider using Google+ for sharing the Gospel rather than Facebook. One of my “acquaintances” on there, Jeremy Jesenovec, says that he gets a far, far higher response rate on Google+ than Facebook. He says, “Google+ has so much more engagement than Facebook & Twitter. I have more conservative & Christian connections on either Facebook or Twitter than I do on G+, but when I posted the same exact thing this morning at the same time on all three, I got 18 +1 (likes), 7 shares and several comments on G+. I got 1 favorited (like) on Twitter with a retweet (share) and 0 comments. On Facebook, I got 1 like, 0 comments and 0 shares. This is one reason I like G+ better. It is so much more engaging.” Jesse is a very popular poster on Google+. If you’re interested in following what he’s doing, you’ll find him at https://plus.google.com/101026577208733031226/posts – Waitsel
Thanks for all your great comments!