Why No Facebook?

Full disclosure: I have a Facebook account. I don’t use it or post to it.

You just caught that, didn’t you? Yeah, I don’t use Facebook, even though I have an account there. Why? I’ll tell you.

First, why I have a Facebook account. Well, there are people I had the idea of reconnecting to after many years. And when I went looking for them, they happened to be on Facebook. That was number one. Number two, my wife’s extended family uses Facebook as their sole means of staying connected to each other. Not email, not phone calls. Facebook. Every detail of their lives, it seems, appears on Facebook. A few years ago, I tried putting up an email list and making them all members. But no one used the list. Facebook instead.

Second, the interface and architecture drives me nuts. I can’t figure out how it all works without a lot of research. I’m a programmer, and have been for over 40 years. In my younger days, I built computers, installed networks, etc. But the interface for Facebook just escapes me. And I know an awful lot of people who, even though they have Facebook accounts, feel the same way. They muddle through somehow, knowing about half what they need to really use the service. But I can’t figure it out and would have to spend too much time to research it properly. It all just seems to be a confusion of different “feeds” which randomly intersect, with some information going everywhere, and some getting only limited exposure.

Third, Facebook’s back end is in the PHP programming language, a mostly web-based language which runs on the server. The problem is that a lot of their code is also in Javascript. Javascript, in turn, runs on my browser. There’s a huge amount of it on Facebook, and I don’t know what all it’s doing. It’s supposed to be there to collect data (did I ask for that?) and make the experience appear more instantaneous. It does all that. But here’s the other thing it does. Since it runs on my browser, there’s no governor on how much of my CPU’s brain power it consumes. Turns out it consumes a lot. I can watch my CPU activity percentage rise every time I open Facebook, and on less powerful desktop computers, I’ve had it consume almost all of my CPU’s attention. I would want this why?

Fourth, Facebook involves a lot of crap postings I’m not interested in. Cat pictures and clever memes are interesting, but not that interesting. I really do have better things to do with my time. All of this is designed to give you the feeling that you are part of one or more on-line communities. That’s how people become addicted to Facebook. They get involved and contribute to various threads and groups of people. As time goes on, they feel more like members of each community. But here’s my problem. I couldn’t care less about being a member of some online community. I don’t know half these people who are contributing to the ongoing chatter there. And I really don’t care what they have to say. I feel the same way about the editorial pages of my local newspaper. Reading the (vastly slanted) news from my newspaper is one thing. Reading all about what other people think about the news is my idea of boring. That’s why I have no interest in Reddit either. You can get a lot of news from Reddit (I wouldn’t bet on how accurate it is; that’s an additional problem). But you’re getting it with a lot of opinion as well, and again, I couldn’t care less.

And frankly, I don’t care what kind of grades your kids get in school, or what color your new car is.

I like cats. I like them a lot, and have two myself. But I really don’t care to see every clever cat picture you can come up with. I already know cats can be endlessly entertaining. I don’t need you to tell me that over and over on Facebook. All I need to do to satisfy my urge to see cute cats is go out in my living room, and plant my butt on the couch. My cats will come to my “cute cat” rescue soon enough.

So why don’t I use Facebook?

By the way, if you’re addicted to Facebook, I have nothing against you. It’s your battery power and time. Have a blast.