Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, January 15, 2009

against Facebook fascism

I was a reasonably early adopter of Facebook — after it was opened to people as old as I am — though I can't remember precisely when I got on board. But I do remember that I lasted about six months before I shut down my account. The only thing I liked about Facebook was the status updates; everything else seemed to be way too much trouble, especially dealing with friend requests. So when I discovered that Twitter was out there, doing status updates only, I traded down and have never looked back.

Now Farhad Manjoo shows up to tell me, first, that “there is no longer any good reason to avoid Facebook” and that all of the reasons people give for refusing it are bogus. He even goes so far as to suggest that it is ethically unacceptable not to have an active Facebook account:

But what about your old fling, your new fling, your next employer, or that friend-of-a-friend you just met at a party who says he can give you some great tips on your golf swing? Sure, you can trade e-mail addresses or phone numbers, but in many circles Facebook is now the expected way to make these connections. By being on Facebook, you're facilitating such ties; without it, you're missing them and making life difficult for those who went looking for you there.

So I have some sort of obligation to make it easier for people to get in touch with me? — to match my life to the “expected way to make connections”? That seems like a philosophically suspect claim to me, but maybe I missed the social-web section of the Kritik der praktischen Vernunft.

I’m tempted to launch into a rant about how this is one more assault in American culture’s apparently unceasing war against introverts, but I’ll spare you that. Instead I’ll just point out that while Manjoo responds to a number of reasons for not using Facebook, he never mentions mine: I’m not freaking interested.