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Why I Never Joined Facebook

September 18th, 2013 · 70 comments

Deactivating Facebook

Facebook Arrives

I remember when I first heard about Facebook. I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. At the time, the service was being made available on a school-by-school basis, and, one spring day in 2004, it finally arrived at our corner of the Ivy League.

Many of my friends were excited by this event. They were surprised when I didn’t join.

“What problem do I have that this solves?”, I asked.

No one could answer.

They would, instead, talk about new features it made available, like being able to reconnect with people from high school or post photos. But my lack of ability to connect with old classmates or to publicize my social outings were not problems I needed fixed.

“Every product and service ever invented offers new features,” I’d respond, “but what problem do I have that Facebook’s features are solving? Why should this product, of all products, earn my attention?”

Again, no one could answer.

After a while, I stopped asking this question, and just moved on with my life without a presence on Facebook. Ten years later, I still have never had a Facebook account — nor any social media account, for that matter — and have never missed it.

I have close friends. I still have lots of readers and still sell lots of books. And I’ve preserved my ability to focus, allowing me to make a nice a living as a theoretician.

A Personal Philosophy for Adopting Tools

This brings me to a broader point: in an age of personal technological revolution, we all need a more explicit philosophy for adopting tools. Without this clarity, we run the risk of drowning in a sea of distracting apps and shiny web sites.

My philosophy — to only adopt tools that solve a major pre-existing problem — has served me well.

I use e-mail, for example, because the ability to communicate asynchronously with people around the world is quite important for my work. E-mail solves this problem.

I don’t use Twitter, however, because the ability to have short, casual interactions with many people I don’t know well is not that important to my work.

And so on.

If you adopt this particular philosophy — which I recommend — you’re effectively raising the bar when it comes to what you tools you adopt. Just because a product or service offers some new feature should not be enough for it to demand your time and attention. Save this scarce resource for tools that make a strong case for how they solve real problems you already have. Make Silicon Valley earn your interest, not take it for granted.

Or not. This is just one way of looking at a complicated problem. I am, of course, eager to hear your disagreement: please post any complaints on your Facebook wall.

70 thoughts on “Why I Never Joined Facebook

  1. Zach Nur says:

    great point. I cancel my facebook in the summers; but during the school year my classmates insist I re-activate, due to projects that require groups for communication. Once I graduate, I’m going to deactivate it again.

    What do you think of LinkedIN? — As a professional, do you find that it could benefit building a network – rather than a distraction ??

  2. This is interesting, but entertainment does not usually solve a pressing problem, and entertainment (enjoyment, fun, hanging out) was the initial (and still major) draw to Facebook.

    I can see what my friends are up to and post funny photos, make quick comments.

    It solves no purpose.

    But neither does hanging out with my friends on a Saturday over beers, watching sports, wrestling with my dog. It’s just fun.

  3. Matt Duhamel says:

    I am in a place in life where Twitter and Facebook are somewhat essential for establishing friendships. I graduated from college before I ever heard of your books and no longer have the resources or opportunity to put my life on a successful track using a college institution.

    The result being that the network of people who I count as peers for my work – independent game development – are spread out all over the world. The campus, for me, is Twitter, as troubling as that may be.

  4. Rodrigovk says:

    (Plase forgive if I write anything wrong, English is not my native language).

    Hello, I’m a recent reader, your content is great.
    While extreme focus is great for a lot of things, there is something I find disturbing in this philosophy — to only adopt tools that solve a major pre-existing problem: you may get stuck on a path, and you may keep out of touch with new ideas, that sometimes can improve your work.

    Of course, this is a matter of choice. Also, my opinion is biased as I work in creative industry as a community manager and social media planner.

    This is my point: Facebook also didn’t solve any problems I had when I first joined, but if I didn’t I would have chosen another career path. By mere curiosity I joined a forum of short fiction stories. (I didn’t have any problem or lack of content to read). But there I improved my writing and made very good friends, we still proof-read each other.

    I agree when you say we need to take care not to adopt every new shiny internet thingy, I believe to let it go, at least sometimes to see everything from another perspective can be beneficial. I know we need to block ourselves from almost everything to do a focused work. But sometimes out there is just the missing trigger.

    I would really apreciate your opinion on the matter.
    Thanks for your great posts.

  5. EaY says:

    I’m hesitant to give up facebook because a lot of people I knew in high school are on there, and I like to imagine that in 20 years time I’ll find out about a reunion through it. (As I wrote that sentence I realised that’s a fairly irrational response for keeping it).

    However, I’ve found as I grow older, the urge to go on facebook declines significantly. Checking it once a day is unlikely to kill me.

    Also I’d agree with the previous commenters that it can be a good way of finding out about events, especially if you don’t have frequent contact with the organizers (i.e. they’re not going to go out of their way to contact you if you are not on facebook).

  6. Kelly says:

    I found this post to be beautiful in its clarity and succinctness. You have put into words my own reasons for being a non-Facebooker. I particularly appreciate your point “Just because a product or service offers some new feature should not be enough for it to demand your time and attention.” There really are “demands” being put upon our time. I do not appreciate the tone of many media outlets that seem to demand and pressure us to stay steeped in every new thing out of Silicon Valley. “Make Silicon Valley earn your interest.” Bravo. Someone else’s “need” to sell new stuff to me every year should not obligate me to interrupt a personal and professional lifestyle that is working quite well already.

  7. Sarva says:

    I joined Facebook after a friend urged me to. A podcast which we both listened to was being brought back to like through a group formed on FB. I joined the group because the podcast I loved ( redbarradio.net) needed me to. I joined FB to solve a problem and help someone I liked. Now, I still have an account, but the only other really useful thing I have managed is making a few German-speaking friends to practice the language with. FB is a tool for me. Not the other way around.

  8. Gorm says:

    Last night I dreamt about someone that I have kind of lost contact with over the last year when I moved to a different city. I found her easily on facebook and it became clear to me that we both were kind of sad about it, and so we made arrangements to meet up soon (I kid you not). I could possibly have used other means, but facebook seemed the easiest.

    While I was there on facebook, I noticed that my last post was from 2011. The same is true for my twitter account (jul 2011) and to some extent my g+ account. I checked them all out, even used them for a while (almost a year in one case); but eventually stopped using them. With facebook, I disabled almost everything, and told it to email me whenever someone messages me. That way it becomes sort of an extended email system.

    I’m not sure what the lesson is here, but I really feel that I’m not the only person who have zero problems in terms of losing time to these sites.

    Thinking about it, I believe the same can be said for TV. It used to be the time killer, but I’ve never had a problem with it. I had one for quite a few years, but eventually got rid of it about 9 or 10 years ago because I wasn’t using it anyway.

  9. jim says:

    I created a couple of accounts on Facebook so I could understand what it was and how it worked. After a while some of my friends and family developed an expectation that I would keep it up to date and read their pages. That was way beyond what I wanted so I deleted the accounts. I still have no problems keeping in touch.

  10. weak stream says:

    “What problem do I have that this solves?” Pretty funny. The answer, of course, is the same thing that blocks solve for infants. I have a FB account but I only use it as a last resort to extreme boredom. And I don’t know if your friends are smarter than mine but, I find, the medium promotes witless conversation. Which is why they cleverly came up with the ‘like’ button. You just punch it and,voila, no need to come up with something interesting to say.

  11. Liz says:

    Facebook kills me. I adopted it thoughtlessly as an undergrad, when it was a just a fun part of the social scene (and did solve the problem of begging for photos from acquaintances after a party). Now I wish I could quit it, but it really is the best way to stay in touch with my massive extended family, especially since my academic career has taken me overseas.

    The important thing is to set restrictions, I think. If I use it only to help with my one-to-many correspondence, I don’t do correspondence while I should be working, any more than I would phone my mum while I’m in the office.

  12. victoria says:

    For me the problem it solved was that I had people in my life — people I cared about — who were moving most of their interaction with non-local folks to Facebook, and if I wanted to really keep up with them (and I did!) it was the easiest way to do that.

    For that purpose it’s pretty good, and Facebook isn’t a big timesink for me. I never go on it at work, and I have a strict no apps/no games policy.

  13. Tammy says:

    Facebook did help me reconnect with old friends, only to continue not contacting them for years again. Honestly, I joined while in high school and found it completely useless. I proceeded to delete it and never again use it for 3 years. Now I’m back because I had new aquaintances in college ask me for it to stay in touch. I just never get on it and see it as a useless product for me. All social media seems to come with the pretense that everyone want some form of attention. It really is useless.

  14. Melvin Roest says:

    I blocked Facebook from my mac with an app called Self Control. So I can’t get on it anymore. I’m already noticing that this helps me tremendously, because I do use it on my mobile but since I (kind of) dislike typing on a mobile screen I keep most interactions short.

    This allows me to state my intention immediately, because I have not the option of creating long conversations (which I normally do). So what problems does it solve:

    * When my phone battery died I can instantly message most of my friends on FB on a public computer. It happens rarely but it does happen. Also I check if people are online on FB first so that I can ask them to skype. It’s cheaper than calling with my phone.
    * Organizing Facebook events (it’s so easy for people to see and join)
    * Creating a Facebook group for a class
    * Organizing FB groups with a group of friends around a topic you’re interested in I am in one which is about computer science, economics and pop culture. Posted by my friends and me, so it’s easy to see how people their interests evolve.

    Stuff like that, the rest is distraction.

    If you don’t need to solve your problems this way then I guess FB is not for you. For me, I wanted to go out of it and I am trying but I can’t because of these reasons.

  15. Patrick says:

    It may not solve a problem you have. It doesn’t solve a problem I have. But it provides a service that enhances my life. It is privilege to have a technology like it, free to anyone. It allows anyone in the world to easily connect.

    If you haven’t used it, perhaps you’re missing out. Why not try it and see if it is something you don’t like, instead of denying it without evening using it? It’s almost like writing a book review without reading the book. I’ve also been against the type of “dogma” thinking. But there is a reason it is so big, people want it (they don’t need it, they want it because it connects people).

    “I have close friends. I still have lots of readers and still sell lots of books. And I’ve preserved my ability to focus, allowing me to make a nice a living as a theoretician.”
    – “Lots of books” is relative. What if you could sell twice as many books by using Facebook? As for a “nice living”, that is also relative. What if you could generate twice as much income as you currently do by using Facebook? Do the benefits outweigh the downsides? You’ll never know until you try.

    I understand being skeptical. Facebook provides a service that most would like, and knowing that you write and sell books, it certainly would be helpful.

  16. Elissa says:

    I too believe you’ve gone a little over-extreme on this one. Facebook is the kind of example that makes the statement sound solid, but is actually an extreme example that doesn’t warrant generalizing of the statement.

    In fact, Facebook is a good example not of why you should discard all applications that don’t solve an immediate problem, but of why you should be selective in those. As you will face a variaty of problems, apps that don’t solve anything now might provide an excellent solution later. So in my opinion, you should also include stuff you think might be useful on the long road.

    For example. I have started writing on my thesis and came across your two articles about making a research database. Altough I liked the idea, noticing you were using Excel for it had me going “seriously?”. As said in the comments, Evernote for example is a way better alternative. Just as simple in use, easier to organize (everything in one place instead of losing files in some shady folders again), but more importantly: it allows me to keep working if I’m commuting, on a hidden site of campus where the internet is down again, whenever I didn’t bring my laptop… basically, if I am ANYWHERE and some free time comes up, I can take out my smartphone and do some work, because the papers I read and my notes on them are all in there. It allows me to not need a bunch of papers, laptop and wifi anymore.

    So using the option that solved the immediate problem here would have done the job but also have cost me quite a lot of time, while just giving something a try that didn’t solve an immediate problem has made my thesis work a lot more organized and less time-consuming. I didn’t know I would NEED all those features, but they turned out really useful. Needless to say is that exploring like this is better done in free time, because otherwise you will lose more work time than you can ever gain back (with the exception of people with very creative jobs where the exploring can lead to sparkling, innovative new ideas).

    Concerning facebook I would use the same logic. Not “does it solve an immediate problem?” but “can it add value to ANY part of my life?”. For me, it’s a great social tool. It lets me know how friends abroad are doing way more easily than having to mail them and asking. It lets me know what people I don’t know THAT well value and like to talk about, making conversation and getting to know them better easier. Some events, debates, conventions I wouldn’t know about without it. And losing someones number or mail adress isn’t an issue anymore.

    So for me, it adds value to my social life. What people should be REALLY wondering about is how much value it takes away of other parts of their lives, like work. But the whole idea shouldn’t, in my opinion, be discarded before this balance exercise has even been made. Only if you have estimated the net value, you can decide whether or not that value is worth going trough trouble for.

  17. su says:

    Cal,

    you have influenced my ideas of career a lot.thanks to you,i have adopted a more focused approach towards it rather than trying to do everything.however, i don’t understand what exactly are rare and valuable skills.the things which are valuable,attract a lot of people and hence are not rare anymore.can you give examples? because i would like to work on these.

  18. Noel says:

    I thought this was a great post. I joined Facebook thoughtlessly as an undergrad when it first came out. Now I’m simply addicted to it. It’s a bad habit that eats up my time and keeps the lonely at bay. Having moved across the country with my partner, I have no friends or family “IRL”. Facebook is a crutch that gives me the illusion of a social life. If I stopped using Facebook, would I be more inclined to find friends here in my new city or conversely would I feel more isolated than ever and bored with no social interactions? To the lab!

  19. Dave says:

    There’s nothing ridiculous about not having a Facebook account, but this reasoning is bonkers.

    Have you ever read a book without an explicit goal in mind? Have you ever taken a walk to clear your head? Why didn’t you just acknowledge that you needed to clear your head, and then…clear your head? Have you ever eaten at a restaurant instead of eating at home? Have you ever eaten meat instead of beans and rice and a vitamin purchased in bulk?

    On some level, those are all luxurious solutions to problems that could have been addressed using fewer resources. Or they are expensive solutions made comparatively less expensive by the fact that the more efficient solutions are difficult in a way that it isn’t profitable for you to overcome.

    Normally, your advice is a fascinating new perspective, but this seems likes a hipster-level opinion labeled as efficiency.

    Again, it’s fine if you don’t want a Facebook account. But the reality is that social media is (though I loathe the word) disruptive. To never have had an account is to not understand a growing part of the lives of over half your audience is nearly every situation you’ll be in for the rest of your life. It’s like how newspapers suffer from waiting so long to embrace the Internet. Your productivity advice can’t help but to suffer from not having a first person understanding of a major productivity hurdle that the majority of your audience faces every day.

    (Apologies for the intensity — you said you welcomed disagreement!)

  20. Evan says:

    I think this philosophy applied to adopting tech hits the nail on the head. I’m surprised that your friends didn’t counter you though. Perhaps your friends recognized the validity of the argument genuinely. Whenever I defend my choice to be off Fb, I always find myself running in circles with someone in the fashion of “It’s the future of how we socialize!” … “No, it’s diluted social substitute which is way less fun than actually having friends.”

    I do wonder, though, if you could keep your facebook circle to an actual group of friends (say in the range of 50-100 facebook friends), would this actually enhance your social life? In this case, you’d only be seeing and sharing content with those whom you actually enjoy interacting with. Decisions, decisions.

    Oh, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on linkedin, given that you’ve written the book on career advice.

  21. MH says:

    Two sets of questions –

    (1) This blog always gives me the impression of a hyperfocus on work that I don’t think I could ever achieve. How do you balance other things in life? Or are you “on” all the time?

    (2) Do you use an RSS reader? What’s on it?

  22. AC says:

    I got a Facebook account later than most of my friends, which here in the UK means about late 2007. During my time on Facebook I was a passive user. I never updated my status or liked anything. I commented sporadically on a few things but never got involved with posting on people’s walls. I put my security settings on lockdown so that unless you were one of the 90 or so “friends” that I had, I didn’t exist and couldn’t be found using the search function. I did this because I started to receive friend requests from people who I actively disliked 10 years previously at high school. Even if they had changed for the better and were now really lovely people, why would I want to get to know them on such a superficial level now? There was a lot about Facebook that felt artificial and a little weird. Like many, I got involved because everybody as doing it. But I tried to hold back and refrain from jumping in.

    Despite being a largely passive user, I still wasted hours on Facebook browsing and reading rather than interacting. That said, the level of interaction on Facebook is akin to leaving a post-it note on someone’s front door. Often, I would only realise this when I was addictively reading comments and looking at wedding photos of a friend-of-a-friends-cousins-friend after I’d been on their for far more time than I would like to admit. I had no idea who these people were and have never met them before in my life and never would but had got to that point thanks to a dopamine fuelled hunt through the steam pile of horse droppings that is Facebook.

    I also began to develop a form of FOMO
    Fear of Missing Out

    and started compulsively checking friends profiles to see if any of them were doing things in the real world without inviting me. Again, this was more wasted hours and mental and emotional strain thanks to the negativity it created. It’s basically online social anxiety.

    In April 2012 I permanently deleted my Facebook account with no chance of retrieval. This happened after a long chat with a close real life friend who had done the same about a year earlier. He explained his reasons and it made perfect sense to me. This guy also happens to be one of the highest achievers both in his career and his hobby (kung fu master) that I know..

    Why would you want to have such fleeting and shallow interactions with so many people that you really don’t know, when you’re struggling to keep up with your five or six closest friends in the real world because of the time consumed by work, family commitments, marriage, children, other interests etc?

    Why would I want to post a Happy Birthday comment on the wall of someone who I haven’t physically seen, or spoken to on the phone for 12 years. People drift apart, people change, people move county, move country, move continent. You can’t keep up with everybody.

    If you have 365 friends on Facebook, that means that you could have a decent conversation with one friend, every day for a whole year. It also means that because there are only so may hours in a day, at that rate it would be another year before you spoke to that friend again. Totally stupid.

    I found that the only way I would send messages to people on Facebook was using the message facility. Not wall posts, or comments etc, but the behind-the-scenes messages – THEY ARE JUST LIKE EMAIL, except email doesn’t have all the distractions built in.

    If you want to have a one-to-one conversation with someone, don’t use the instant messenger facility on Facebook, phone them up and talk to them.

    My wife’s sister lives in Australia and we live in the UK. How do they communicate? Video chats twice a month using Skype. They talk for 2 hours or more, laughing and joking and showing each other things via the web cam in real time and it’s free of charge. That’s the closest they can come to being in the same room together in person. How do they arrange these video chats? They send each other emails. Facebook doesn’t even enter in to the equation, yet they’re both on it.

    I was also surprised to find out recently that my wife has about 211 friends on Facebook yet only uses it to communicate with the 6 people that she sees most often and speaks to on the phone. The rest of these friends are, at best, fleeting acquaintances who she knew 4 or more years ago, people that she has only met a few times, or people she vaguely knew at school. She says that the vast majority of them were added in a 12 month period about 5 years ago when it seemed to be fashionable (and I remember this) to add anyone you had any kind of connection with, no matter how tenuous, as a friend on Facebook, because it was just what you did. I was the same when I was on it. Everyone I interacted with was someone who I saw regularly in person. It wasn’t adding any value.

    Don’t tell me that Facebook is the best way to stay in touch with people overseas. Not when you have a telephone, text messages, Skype or email.

    If someone lives in the same time zone as you and you don’t have their phone number, then can you really call them your friend?

    Anyway, if you think that staying in touch is about liking some photos, posting a 10 word comment and then moving on to the next persons profile, you’re crazy. Also, just because you passively read other people’s content and profiles alone, late at night, doesn’t mean you’re staying in touch. They don’t know you’re reading it, what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling. It’s like comparing passive review with active recall as far as learning methods are concerned.

    I’ve spoken to other friends of mine who say they worry about the amount of time they spend on Facebook, particularly on their mobile phones. Many say they find people on it annoying and although they regularly have “friend culls” they still don’t understand how they have so many “friends” on there.

    Since I’ve left Facebook I’ve been able to concentrate on the few relationships that really matter (a bit like Cal’s hard focus) adopting a quality/depth approach over quantity/spuriousness. I have never been happier. When people talk about Facebook I smile as I know that I am missing out only on stress and a level of social interaction that is inconsequential. I can now see that if I want to network and build real relationships of any kind, the best way to do so is in the person or via a skype video chat if that person is on the other side of the planet.

    To me Facebook is nothing more than email with a bunch of extra stuff tacked onto it.

    As my Dad used to say to me when I watched the TV as a kid, “If you don’t like it, either either change the channel or turn it off.”

    I turned it off.

  23. RR says:

    Funny to see five social media buttons directly at the end of this post.

  24. Nitin says:

    Cal,

    Another social media recluse here. Never caught on the facebook and twitter craze. However, I battle a youtube addiction. This is a different sort of a challenge, since you can get wasted on youtube by doing literally nothing, unlike facebook where you need to create your profile and add some friends before you begin going down the blackhole.

    Every once in a while, I find myself sucked into a youtube video watching spree, just not being able to stop clicking on that next interesting video.

  25. Sarah Atwood says:

    Loved reading this Cal. Almost daily I curse Facebook for wasting my time but yet I’m still on it. One of these days I’m going to cut the cord. (If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have seen this post by the way…) Want to write more, but I have to stop ignoring my kids! Hope you are doing well!

  26. David Wynn says:

    Cal,

    Very thoughtful, though I think assuming you know all the ways a tool will be used, either by description or a few clicks/uses, is a limiting assumption. For example, I don’t use Twitter at all in the way you described. Instead I find it a great way to follow big thinkers (particularly in journalism/media) and keep up on what they’re reading/doing.

    I think a little more playful and open attitude towards trying new tools is a good thing, but once you’ve given a new tool a fair chance, using your approach to pare down anything ultimately unhelpful would be very useful.

  27. I have a Facebook but rarely go on, signed up to see what all they hype was about and kinda just left it there.

  28. Sren says:

    Hey Cal, you are absolutely right, well maybe not absolutely but I never agreed with your posts more than this instance. I did not have a Facebook account until around 2010 because I thought that it was useless, however during early 2013 I started to visit it too often, mainly because I miss some people and I am away from them. However, I think the real problem is not that it does not solve a problem, maybe in your case it did not, but for me and many other people there is a problem: they are away from people they love (I live in another country for ex.), so Facebook creates a sense of closeness, at least awareness.

    However, in my opinion, the real problem with Facebook is this: it does not do anything to reduce time waste, it does not care about your time even if you value your time and want to use FB, it is impossible to do both at once, as a matter of fact, FB does everything to waste your time, that’s how they keep their stock prices high. Hence they keep sending nonsense invitations, mass messages etc, a FB wall without at least 20 hours invested to optimize it is WORSE, A LOT WORSE than getting your email registered with spam lists. Because in FB’s case spammers are your friends or family. So, despite it allowed me to communicate with people with relative ease (i think another value of FB is that it combines chat, mail and your friends in place) I froze my account a month ago and not missing it a bit, because trade-off had really become a 95% loss for me.

    I already did not have any other social media accounts, I see value in the idea of having online networks and I think it’s really a shame that there is no options for people who wants to have on-going contact with their little circle without being subjected to time wasting junk being forced to their throats.

  29. Sren says:

    Oh I forgot to add that, I only had around 100 friends and despite that it was impossible to justify the spam I kept getting. I don’t know how people who has hundreds of friends can deal with it…

  30. Study Hacks says:

    I’ve been swamped with spam comments recently which has made it difficult for me to find and moderate real comments recently, so I apologize if I’ve missed you. To help the problem, I installed a plug-in that now requires that you click a “I am not a spammer” box before you submit. In theory this will help defeat the bots. I’m giving it a test now…

    – Cal

  31. Janelle says:

    Incidentally, I found your blog through Facebook. An artist I’m following posted your post about Woody Allen and value productivity and I immediately found the whole blog interesting. I guess that’s what draws me back in to Facebook. Getting informed of links like these and encouraging me to go find my own and share it to my network (which hopefully can cause a chain effect).

  32. Matt says:

    Man, I just like keeping in touch on Twitter with folk and making snarky jokes. It’s not really worth much in my universe to fuss about. Don’t have a Facebook, though, but that might because I sort of enjoy privacy.

  33. I don’t use a twitter account – I’m not inclined to tell an audience what I am doing during the day and niether am I interested in see what others are doing in 140 character sentances. I have a Facebook account that is prabably switched off more than on because – well the same reason – nothing is so urgent that I need to read others lives by the minute.

    There is a reason most people lose contact with others – that relationship was done. Rather like sending Christmas Cards to all the people you have met or are related to once a year – Facebook duplicates that by the minute or the hour.

    I really don’t know how many times I have been sat with someone who seems to feel they need to maintain their facebook time during a face to face relationship in a pub or cafe. Facebook isn’t maintaining relationships, its erroding the ones that really matter. Its naive to believe that social networks are anywhere near to maintaining a relationship face to face or on the phone. That’s why big business deals don’t have a Facebook element in the process of doing business.

    Facebook is big business and that means it has an agenda to monetise its activity. Its either collecting data, pushing you information, advertising to you, somewhere along the line it has to make money from you. It isn’t a charitable organisation with selfless motives.

    A freind once told me a phrase I always remembered – you are either earning or learning – in other words you are working towards career assets and learning stuff that will be useful, or you are actually working on income generating activity. Facebook seems in reality to do niether and is in fact just a smart directory. And a huge distraction and waste of time to anyone’s focus on the really important things of the ‘live’ face to face World

  34. Megan says:

    I would like to get off facebook as I do think it’s distracting and kind of weird but my extracurriculars practically demand that I be on there. They want facebook pages for people to like and to post all their updates (I prefer email) and etc. Even the departments at my college have FB pages now.. And the Film Society. So I’d be willing to get rid of it but I’m afraid to miss something.

  35. Estara says:

    I wish I didn’t have a facebook. I do, however, and I won’t get rid of it for one purpose – there are dear people that I would not have contact with otherwise (I know it seems strange, but some people only want to be contacted by Facebook) that are there.
    Also, an unforeseen benefit to Facebook (for me) is that it has allowed me to grasp what others are thinking about in popular society and the media, which helps me relate to people more broadly (something I need to do for my particular profession) and which is hard to do when I’m stuck inside of my academic ivory tower. But I use it sparingly and with caution.

  36. Patty says:

    No one who used it could give you a reason why it was beneficial? Who did you ask, your cat?

  37. Matt says:

    Like the great Eric Clapton said it’s in the way that you use it. The only thing I really use facebook for are groups in areas I have an interest in or that are relevant to me. The Facebook Groups that are active often have folks that have great insight that I learn from and support in like minded situations.

  38. Cliff says:

    Cal, thank you for sharing these thoughts about Facebook and for discussing the concept of boredom tolerance in earlier blog entries. I feel a bit ashamed that, at first blush, it seemed so alien to me to consider boredom tolerance a virtue. Boredom tolerance feels like something you might hear your grandparents extol but not something you’d ever hear valued in the media or in most educational contexts. Rather, we seem to be encouraged always to learn more about the newest app, the latest gossip, or the most recent news developments. The ability to tolerate boredom allows you to spend time thinking about hard, important things while your peers’ thoughts are snatched away by every new distraction. It probably brings more peace, calm, and stillness into your personal life.

    Thank you for discussing these ideas. It’s very helpful to hear someone in a similar field (I work in software) and age group discuss effective values that are often considered quaint by many in the younger generations.

    Now, how to build powerful, popular software that doesn’t rely on humanity’s vulnerability to distraction and novelty?…

  39. Visitor says:

    “Every product and service ever invented offers new features,”

    But that’s completely wrong

  40. sTevo says:

    I ditched facebook after my hs reunion. All the old acquaintances that drifted away so many years ago have new ways of drifting away.

    Then I ditched twitter because I don’t require all the noise.

    Then I ditched linkedin because I don’t need another version of fb, only this one is for work and recruiters.

    Google+ never lifted off the ground because there again, what do I need another version of fb for?

    People who know me and want to communicate can call me on the phone or email me or level a message on my beer blog. Does it happen? Not very often, which means they aren’t really interested.

    So then, it leaves me more time to devote to the people who care for me.

  41. xsnake says:

    I joined joined out of necessity….all news sites require commenters to login…..a large percentage offer Farcebook as an easy alternative to registering. Have never used the service for anything else.

  42. Eddie says:

    I fell into a Facebook account when it arrived at Yale in 2004. Today it serves several unique functions in my life:

    -It is the easiest way in existence to share photos with friends and family (and to simultaneously hide them from whomever you choose), and to back them up.

    -It helps me remember birthdays.

    -It keeps me up to date with acquaintances’ major life updates – marriages, births, deaths, etc. One might object, “oh, but you must not really care about them if Facebook is how you found out about it,” but in practice, I don’t find this to be true at all. Dunbar’s rule limits our close relationships to the 150-person mark, but it’s still nice to keep in touch with acquaintances, to be on good terms with them, and to keep up with the major changes in their lives, and Facebook makes that very easy.

    -Related to the point above, when I’m at a gathering with both Facebook and non-Facebook family members and friends, the non-Facebookers have almost always been out the loop on some major life or cultural events that the rest of us already know about. Being out of the loop isn’t necessarily bad, but it could be if you highly value being up to speed on acquaintances outside your innermost circle.

    -It gives me just enough of a digital soapbox to sate my desire to express myself without requiring me to maintain a blog. In my case, while a blog would be useful and more feature-rich for building an audience, it would also be solving problems I don’t have and hijacking my time and attention, thus creating more problems for me (basically your reasoning for avoiding Facebook).

  43. Cheryl Shannon says:

    For my spouse and I all social media comes down to one thing, we do not have time nor the interest to allot time for it.

  44. Cal,
    I agree with the fact that we are letting Silicon Valley take our interest for granted. And I’ve been addicted to Facebook since a very long time. My Dad (non-Facebooker), once, simply said, ‘It’s a forum of interaction for some of them who have no social life. It’s like publicizing everything to have a virtual satisfaction’.
    And that got me thinking….hours spent interacting, checking out stuff, feeling envious or excited…blah, not worth it.
    But it has an upside…I get to meet amazing new writers, architects (I’m currently in a B.Arch course) so its really helpful…plus I get to follow pages of my interest.
    Self restriction is the key.
    Funny as it may sound, I deleted the app from my phone and use it ONLY via my laptop and that’s made a HUGE difference. Logging in once in 24 hours or a few days is more than sufficient if you’re not a commercial page owner, etc:-

    Thanks for your posts, Cal 🙂

  45. Derrek says:

    So for connections, you mean like relating it to everyday like. Anyone have an example? Any suggestions on how to study this way. I used to always memorize and it takes a lot of time.

  46. Nice article indeed which came my way at the most appropriate time in my life. In fact, I consider it God sent. Actually I am a working woman and write whenever I get spare time. I joined face book only last week and how crazy it has made me all of a sudden ! I was repenting a lot that my thoughts were always on face book and not on reading good books or writing. I had in fact joined face book because I felt that in this modern age, if you were not holding a face book account you would be looked down upon and I thought it pertinent to start a new face book account to keep myself abreast with the latest trends. This however has left me with no time to concentrate on my writing. After reading your article, I have decided to restrict my face book viewing only on weekends. Thank a lot.

  47. John says:

    Hi,

    I like this post. It’s not all the reasons I don’t like Facebook but it is many reasons I had not considered prior to now.

    I’m trying to think of what I want to write on my own blog for not liking facebook. I am a member of the site, but rarely go there. I have tried to see the value, but it’s hard to see it with all the garbage that’s on there.

    There are a few opportunities though… for instance you may find rare people that are interested in things that you are in the same way. I’m not sure that its the best place for that. I think that a blog would be better.

    Anyway, great post.

  48. Satvik Soni says:

    Great thoughts indeed.
    I just wanted to know your thoughts on the new social media platform – Quora.
    it is definitely better than facebook for a hundred reasons.
    Do let me know!

  49. stenburgen Kalama Ruwa says:

    I think Cal its a matter of choice. The articles you write are meant for people like us who want to stretch themselves to the next level. Even I am not a fun of facebook as such due to its what i find irrelevant with it. People always try to show a false self. Most people in facebook usually have flaws so they want to substitute their flaws with a false picture they publish to the world through facebook.

    Something else you have to understand if everyone would have been seeing the world from your perspective it would have been a boring world. Facebook has created job opportunity for Zeurkerberg and and the workers at facebook which is good for the American economy.

    1. stenburgen Kalama Ruwa says:

      I come from a society who don’t believe a thing in what you are writing. Their perspective of success is based on luck or taking advantage of others or stealing from innocent people.

  50. Caroline Murray says:

    If it were not for a Facebook post, I would not have found your blog. As others have said above, not only does Fb help me in ways I can’t predict, it’s allowed me to help others as well.

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