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Why I’m (Still) Not Going to Join Facebook: Four Arguments that Failed to Convince Me

October 3rd, 2013 · 73 comments

Deactivating Facebook

Why I Never Joined Facebook

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about why I never joined Facebook. For those who are new to this discussion, here’s the short summary:

I have limited time and attention. I try to devote as much of it as possible to creating valuable things and spending time with my family and close friends. For a new tool to claim some of my time and attention from these activities it has to offer me a lot of value in return. Facebook falls well short of this threshold.

This post generated a lively debate in its comment thread. To be honest, this comments discussion is probably more valuable than the original post, as it covers a lot more ground, often quite eloquently.

A natural follow-up question, however, is whether this discussion changed my mind on the issue. The short answer: No. Not at all.

To provide a longer answer, I summarize below the four most common arguments in favor of Facebook that I received in reaction to my post (both publicly and privately), as well as my explanation for why the arguments didn’t move me closer to clicking “join.”

Argument #1: Facebook makes it possible to maintain lightweight, high-frequency contact with a large number of people spread around the world.

Facebook essentially invented this new type of social connection. Some people enjoy it. Some even use it as a replacement for a normal, in-person social life (usually, to their detriment). I have no interest in it. I’m close to my family and have good friends. I’d rather keep my time and attention focused on interacting deeply with them instead of pinging a thousand “friends” with exclamation-point laden wall posts.

Argument #2: Facebook might offer you personal or professional benefits that you don’t even know about. You cannot reject this service until you have tried it for a while.

I hear this argument a lot. I find it to be an incoherent approach to managing the tools in your life. If I had to test every potentially useful tool before deciding not to use it, I would end up spending the bulk of my life testing. My time and attention is valuable. If some company wants to make money off me using their service, they better have a compelling pitch for why it’s worth me taking away time and attention from my work, family and friends — even if just temporarily.

Argument #3: Facebook will not take your time and attention away from things you currently find important because you can access it on your phone during times, like waiting in line, that would otherwise be wasted.

This vision of Facebook use terrifies me. Facebook, like most social media, is addictive, because it offers, at all points, the possibility of finding out something that someone is saying about you. Once you get into the habit of seeking this distraction when temporarily bored, your ability to concentrate during other times will be reduced. If I start checking Facebook during my downtime, in other words, I’m convinced that the overall quality and quantity of time I can spend doing hard things — like writing or solving proofs — will, rather quickly, begin to decrease.

Furthermore, the idea that you can restrict your access to this addictive service to only downtime is naive. Think about the behavior of people you know: Facebook checking soon pervades all areas of your life, including those times when, in a pre-Facebook era, you would be interacting with family or friends. “You can access Facebook anywhere!”, in other words, is not the right way to persuade me.

Argument #4: Your general philosophy of only adopting a tool if it provides a clear and valuable benefit will deprive you of serendipity — think about all the interesting things you might be missing out on.

My careful approach to tool adoption almost definitely means I’m missing out on opportunities, trends, connections, and entertainment.

This doesn’t bother me.

As a consequence of my approach to tools, I have few electronic inboxes to monitor or online services to fiddle with. This means I spend a surprising fraction of my work day actually doing hard work, leading to a professional life that is fulfilling and, to date, pretty successful (knock on wood). It also means that when I arrive home in the evening, I don’t touch a computer until the next morning — allowing me to spend my time focused on my family and friends, and giving my full attention to any number of things I already enjoy, like reading. (I read a lot.) I would be a fool to dilute this to chase the possibility of something “new.”

Fear of missing out, in other words, is not a valid argument for trashing what you already have.

#####

On an unrelated note: My friend Todd Henry (of The Accidental Creative fame) recently published a new book, Die Empty. Here’s the blurb I wrote for the jacket: “Die Empty looks past simple slogans to highlight detailed strategies for building a meaningful life; a must-read for anyone interested in moving from inspiration to action.” If you’re interested in these questions of work, meaning, and legacy, I encourage you to find out more

73 thoughts on “Why I’m (Still) Not Going to Join Facebook: Four Arguments that Failed to Convince Me

  1. CMB says:

    Thanks for these posts, Cal. Here is a test case for you:

    My husband never joined Facebook and never will. I joined in 2004 when it became available at my university (we all just used it to find out if the cute boy in our class was “in a relationship,” because that’s healthy dating…).

    My husband and I both spent time living overseas after college. He used email and phone calls (Skype, Viber) to keep up with friends overseas; I used facebook. He used email and phone calls to keep up with friends from high school and college; I used facebook.

    If I survey our relationships to date, my husband is closer to his old friends from overseas and from high school and college than I am to mine, in terms of depth of relationship, frequency of actual communication, and number of people with whom he is in regular (two-way!) contact. He has more current friends than I do, and deeper relationships with them than I do with mine.

    I am now in the process of leaving facebook (collecting emails and photos I want to keep, leaving my proper email address up for long enough for people to write it down) after using it as a primary source of communication for almost a decade.

    What I think Facebook has done is reduce the cost of social interaction (to at least MY detriment). It’s much easier to meet someone and add them as a “friend” on facebook than it is to ask them for their number and invite them to lunch. Less vulnerability for me, but less of a chance of actual real friendship with the other person.

    The loss of vulnerability as a requirement for continued relationship results in more numerous and more shallow relationships. You have no idea if the person you just “friended” has any interest in you whatsoever, but you will know immediately whether they do or not if you ask them to get coffee with you. That is scary, and people don’t want to take the risk.

    All that to say, Facebook is not the best way to keep up with friends and family, even if they are locationally distant; phone calls and emails are. It is not the best way to establish new friendships; costless relationships are benefit-less relationships. My husband has proved that to me.

    Also, FYI, if you deactivate your account, it still exists in the permanent black hole of cyberspace, along with all associated data. If you ever randomly need to contact someone whose info you don’t have, reinstate your account, get their email, then deactivate again. Super easy.

    1. Liss says:

      Hey CMB

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I am a college student right now and the reason for keeping facebook, as I told myself, was to keep in touch with friends on a study year abroud.
      Your post convinced me that other ways really are better! I never new for sure if I would loose touch with friends just because of not being always rachable.
      I no longer see the use of it. Yes it is practical to keep in touch with my friends at home and to arrange a girls night outbut for me it’s no longer worth the price.

      my best wishes

    2. Michele says:

      You can permanently delete your Facebook account as well. Leaving it sitting out there inactive is a dangerous siren song. I wanted mine deleted into no existence. I was on it for just over three years and spent the last 18 months wanting to leave but imprisoned by the arguments about maintaining professional contacts there just in case. The freedom is indescribable. I only hope one day, Facebook and the like cease to exist. I do have an Instagram account, but the visual nature of it is inspiring and calming. It’s also something I can comfortably view occasionally without the compulsion that Facebook and Twitter inevitably create.

  2. Zach Nur says:

    Exactly!

  3. runbei says:

    Facebook defines the grounds for introducing a new word into the English vocabulary: twerpine.

  4. Ben says:

    Here’s how I use Facebook (not necessarily how anyone else should):

    * It’s blocked on my laptop, using the StayFocusd extension on Chrome – can’t access it during “work” hours … access it only on the iPad during “play” hours.

    * All “notifications” of any kind are OFF. Facebook cannot “Ping” me or pollute my e-mail inbox.

    * I categorize almost everyone as “Acquaintance” and does not show up in my news feed.

    * News feed is for my relatives (by blood and marriage) and 5 or 6 long-distance friends that I genuinely love and miss — enough that I actually enjoy seeing their “this is my lunch salad” type updates. When I log onto Facebook, I see pictures of my nieces and nephews, that I wouldn’t see otherwise. People have shifted from e-mailing links to their online photo albums, to simply posting these on Facebook.

    * There are about four people that I feel comfortable calling on the phone: mom, dad, sibling and one good old (long-distance) friend. Talking on the phone feels weird, plus it’s intrusive. I have also found that people are out of the habit of answering genuine e-mail epistolary correspondence, to say nothing of hard-copy letters (confession: I’ve let it slide too…) So brief dialogue on Facebook is an easier way of “keeping in touch” than the alternatives that I’m aware of. All these people are long-distance, so in-person usually isn’t an option.

    * Male, 30s, got e-mail in college before texting and Facebook era, academic, recovering internet addict

    1. That was really helpful, Ben.. I better get that Stay Focused extension, too. And to think of it, I regret not putting most people in the Acquaintance List.
      Cheers :)

    2. Rex says:

      Ben, you can use Skype instead; for communicating with your acquaintances. You can interact with them real time during your play hours instead of staring at inanimate pics. Its better to use Email services instead of giving away your personal details to corporate advertising companies to better sell their products to you and so on cause its clearly stated by Facebook on their terms of services.Here is an article about it
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2013/08/31/new-facebook-policies-sell-your-face-and-whatever-it-infers/
      I don’t mean to contradict you but give it a thought..

      BTW Cal the article is awesome with excellent insights into the questions. Its a true addiction and most of the users are in complete or partial denial.

  5. Ben says:

    Forgot one thing. I like to browse a bunch of news sources that can sometimes provide new ideas but can easily become procrastination that gets in the way of work.

    Previously, I let Google Reader get up to almost 1000 feeds, most of which I ultimately did not need to follow. Now Feedly and every other RSS reader are blocked with StayFocusd.

    Now, I have a Facebook list of about 40 genuinely relevant news sources, which I can browse for a few minutes during “downtime.” Plus, I like how Facebook is more interactive than the classic RSS protocol because you can put in your own comment right there, as you see the item appear.

  6. PHD Hacker says:

    Hi Cal,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. Actually, I was also very reluctant to join facebook but then I realised that more and more of the communication on our campus is done there and I thought this would be the best way to stay in touch with some people who start studying or working in other countries. So, in this sense fb provides a value to me. Twitter, for example, doesn’t so I don’t use it.
    However, I notice that fb really does reduce my ability to focus, which is why I’m about to go on a withdrawal for one week (just deleted the app from my phone) and will only allow myself to check it once a day afterwards.
    I will make this part of my “restore the focus” project, in which I will also shut down other sources of distraction to maximize my focus on hard thinking.

  7. Jason Kratz says:

    Cal: Facebook can be used as a convenient communication tool without having to spend a bit of time on the site. I was a heavy user and decided to stop using everything but the chat feature. This allows me to keep up with folks via the FB chat app on iOS without having to touch the site. Its not any different than texting and the like. Not trying to change your mind…but giving a different perspective.

    To CMB: there is no reason to leave FB. I did the same thing once and I honestly don’t understand why people do this. I went back. Everyone I know uses it and its a lot easier to keep the account. Keep the account. Set it up so that when you get a message on Facebook that it emails you. People will not take down your email. Your life will not become magically better. I am speaking from experience ;)

  8. Hello Cal,

    Just wanted to ask you a question. You say:

    “Argument #2: Facebook might offer you personal or professional benefits that you don’t even know about. You cannot reject this service until you have tried it for a while.”

    In the section that follows you seem to describe why you think it is not worth trying out. I must say I quite like that and will probably use that argument next time someone wants me to test something.

    I’m also interested in what you would say against the argument that Facebook can lead to continued exposure of yourself in your network which makes people remember you better for business purposes. Care to share your vision?

  9. chris says:

    convincing you is of no interest, but as for argument #1, there is a nuance that I feel you are missing. For those of us who have moved around a lot, there are a number of people that we care about a lot. But at this stage with kids and the number of times I have moved, it is not possible to call, email, etc. enough to keep up with. But through facebook, I get a sense of what’s happening in their lives and I have the opportunity for casual interaction that is a benefit to me.

    Facebook has created the opportunity for these relationships to go on in this way, but these relationships were in no way created by Facebook.

  10. Steven says:

    Ben: What I do is similar in idea to what you do. I’ve added only the people I truly care to keep in touch with (very few) to a list which will send me notifications when they post something. I’ve turned off all email notifications and have them only send to my phone. That way I only check them when I’m waiting alone at a bus stop for example. I also NEVER check the FB newsfeed.

    CMB: Like you I’ve found that FB kind of superficial in terms of the communication and I get much more depth and stronger connection through calls, video chats, texts and even IMs. What I do is use FB as a springboard to more in-depth interactions with people. If they are local I’ll transition the conversation into meeting up in person and hanging out. If they aren’t local or if meeting up in person isn’t what is wanted I’ll still quickly transition to other means of communication even if it’s only TXTing or IMing. The point is, I don’t allow FB to be the beginning and end of my communications/interactions with people.

    I think for people of my generation and younger, FB is kind of unavoidable as it’s almost a de facto method of communication and disseminating information. However, I don’t let it control me and I limit my usage of it to an extreme amount.

  11. Joel says:

    how about twitter? i’m sure your followers could really benefit from your 140 character or less advice posts..

  12. Radhika says:

    Honestly, Cal, good for you. I wish with all my heart that I could stop using Facebook (it’s now the only “social media” tool I use), but so much of my workday depends on it (primary form of communication for high-school students), it’s impossible not to.

    Have any alternatives? Face-to-face is out of reach when asking “Hey, do you get the homework?” Texting/calling, maybe?

  13. Estara says:

    Ok. What about the equally terrifying trend of professors requiring students to use Facebook for their classes?
    If you’re surprised, I had a Spanish prof. who required it, simply because it was easier for her to communicate with her students. It’s becoming more common.
    I’m on track to becoming a professor. I wouldn’t use it; I don’t see the benefit of “exploiting” facebook in a vain attempt to make class seem more appealing. What makes a class appealing? A skilled teacher and a carefully constructed system of teaching that engages students and whose course content is updated and relevant always trumps a class that’s built on faulty principles of enticing students with popular media to like a class because it’s “cool.” I’ve always respected teachers who are so good at what they do that you lose track of time and are so engaged in their beautifully-presented material that when you are in their class, Facebook and the rest of the chattering world cease to exist for 50 minutes or so.
    Just my 35 cents.

  14. Matt says:

    This topic reminds me of this commercial:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUGmcb3mhLM
    “I have 687 friends, this is living”
    “What that is not a real puppy”

  15. Cal,

    Just saying “thank you”.

  16. Brendan says:

    Hey Cal,

    I agree it’s distracting. The addiction for me is not the even the social aspect of it. It’s a way to aggregate pictures. Sure, there are other sites where you can share pictures but they haven’t hit that critical mass to be as useful as Facebook.

    If it wasn’t for missing out on pictures of parties and events so I can keep them, I would be off tomorrow (and I have tried to leave before).

    1. Nebuchadnezzar says:

      This is precisely my reason for staying on Facebook. I’m about to graduate from high school, and I deactivate it a month or two prior to exams and important, high productivity months. Other than that, I need it so I can keep up with my classmates and share pictures from my last year in school.

  17. Will says:

    I agree with much of what you say Cal, and find myself wanting to leave. There’s a couple quick answers that I will stay, and probably will for a long time.

    I’m an avid photographer, and am involved in a few things. I really enjoy sharing my photos with my friends and family, especially while I’m away at college. It’s a way to provide a snapshot into my life easily without having to email or dropbox huge files (which my grandparents probably couldn’t use well). I also really enjoy seeing my friends photos as well, which also valuable communication between them.

    Also, as a political awareness activist and academic, I find that there is a lot of political and civic discourse happening online. Social media is where young people communicate, start social movements, market their events, and connect with their ‘peers’ to start something. I’ve seen this be an effective tool to collect petition signatures, increase issue salience, and build a broader coalition that has had real campaign effects.

    For these reasons and more, I’ll probably be here to stay. However, I try to keep the Fear of Missing Out and Facebook addiction at bay and at the front of my mind.

  18. AC says:

    The first poster, CMB, says it all for me. Her experience is very much in line with my thoughts in the comment I made in the original “Why I never joined Facebook” post.

    Email can reach across oceans and mountains, and hit multiple people at the same time, just as well as Facebook.

    If you know people overseas, the only way to genuinely interact with them on a regular basis is something like Skype.

    Watching the handpicked headlines of someone’s life and occasionally commenting on them via Facebook does not count as keeping in touch.

    I lost interest in reading about every mundane event in hundreds of nobodies lives a long time ago.

    Also, FYI, if you deactivate your account, it still exists in the permanent black hole of cyberspace, along with all associated data. If you ever randomly need to contact someone whose info you don’t have, reinstate your account, get their email, then deactivate again. Super easy.

    I have strong opinions about deactivating the account. It’s a total cop out. When I was on Facebook I knew two people who repeatedly deactivated their account and then reactivated it a few weeks or months later despite saying they wanted to get away from Facebook.

    They still showed up on my friends list with a faceless but named photo.

    Permanent deletion of the account is the only way to rid yourself of it. It’s scrubs you off completely.

    You go through the deletion process which takes about 2 minutes. Google “delete facebook” if you need the link.

    Then all you have to do is NOT log in for 14 days. If you do, the deletion is undone and you carry on as normal.

    If you don’t log in, after those 14 days it will be like you were never on Facebook. You won’t be able to log in, and all the information is gone.

    I found it wonderfully cleansing. That was about 18 months ago.

    I built up to it by gradually extending the period of time I didn’t log in. I got up to 2 months without logging in and that was when I realised I didn’t miss it or need it and that it was safe to get rid of it.

    As a point of interest, I never had it on my phone. If you’re in the habit of constantly checking it via your phone, then that’s a whole different level of addictiveness.

    Reflecting for a moment as well, Facebook isn’t the only thing online that is a complete nightmare and waste of time.

    Twitter is just as bad. Google Plus is too.

    Having an RSS reader bombarding you with hundreds of low value updates that you don’t read anyway, but feel compelled to read *because*, is another enormous waste of time.

    Generally speaking, if I am online for more than 30 minutes at a time, I start to slide down the slippery slope of just clicking links and reading rubbish.

  19. Pia says:

    yes! Facebook is such a time suck all 4 times a year I’m on there, I can’t even begin to imagine how much time I would have cumulatively wasted on it at this point if I was a “normal” user! Another useful point: there have been some studies showing that at this point, many people feel a temporary wave of depression after perusing facebook due to the onesided nature of communication on it – ie, people will only announce very positive news on facebook for the most part, nobody will discuss how lunch was so so and their boss sucks, so it gives you this feeling that everyone in the world but you is doing awesome and is ultra happy. The only thing worse than wasting a huge amount of time is probably wasting a huge amount of time and then having to sit through a crisis of depression and low self esteem for MORE time.

  20. Shannon says:

    “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (says Hamlet) The extraverts in my family like and use Facebook, the introverts in my family don’t. And that’s about all the time and effort we put into analyzing it!

    1. Sam Shovel says:

      I believe you. You certainly prove the critics contentions.
      However, I don’t think it’s fair to blame idiocy on extraverts;
      It seems there is some correlation with lameness and introverts,
      as they are what seems to make up the majority of Facebook lemmings.
      Not to mention privacy issues brought on by Zuckerman’s neo-nazism.

  21. Sushant says:

    Hi Cal,

    This is exactly how I feel about facebook. I chose to not join facebook during my undergraduate studies when all my friends at school decided to move their social life there. I feared it would become a huge drain of time for me. Later as time passed by I realized that there were other benefits of not joining facebook like having a peace of mind. Now I see my friends constantly occupied with the never ending posts and notifications and real social conversations have taken a back seat.

    I also want to express my gratitude for sharing your wisdom. Its changing my life ever since I was introduced to your blog through Ramit Sethi’s blog. I have tried to incorporate deep work in my daily life and I have disabled email and other notifications at work. The quality of my work is improving. I am less distracted. Now my next hurdle is to be able to have 3 hour deep work sprints. I get compelled to google topics that I come across while doing any important work and I end up spending a lot of time going through Wikipedia links. But I am hopeful that I will be more focused soon.

    Please continue writing your amazing blog. An email notification in the morning from Study Hacks makes my day better than anything else :)

    Sushant

  22. Ryan Hanley says:

    Cal,

    I read this post and immediately become envious of your resolute defiance of self gratification. I hate that I use Facebook…

    …and Twitter for that matter.

    The social platform I truly enjoy is Google Plus because it’s more conversation and discussion driven so I often leave the platform with some time of valuable piece of information.

    But then the platform doesn’t really matter does it?

    If the work we do is finding the people we want it to find then any extra spent time is just a waste.

    This is a lesson I continue to learn.

    Thanks,

    Hanley

  23. Baha says:

    Dr. Newport,

    I couldn’t help but notice that your friend Todd Henry has been using Facebook for almost 33 months. What’s your take on that? :)

    Just kidding. I’m such a big fan of your work. Please keep on doing what you’ve been doing. It seems to be working flawlessly!

  24. Will says:

    One thing I found when I was in college was that some student organizations pretty much required you to have Facebook because events were only announced there, rather than via e-mail. So if you didn’t have Facebook, you simply could not participate in the student organization. When I explained that I didn’t want to use Facebook and wanted them to post their events over e-mail (at least in addition to on Facebook), I was told about all the benefits and that I could use it for as little as I wanted to.

    I suspect that this was because the organizers were just being lazy and couldn’t fathom why any college age student wouldn’t use Facebook. In the end, I dropped out such organizations because I refused to use Facebook and therefore couldn’t participate.

    It really doesn’t surprise me that Estara (comment #15) had a Spanish professor who required Facebook usage. It’s just one step away from leaders in college student organizations requiring it.

  25. Urooj says:

    I find Facebook useful for my classes, believe it or not! haha that seems like an oxymoron, almost. There’s a FB group for most of my classes and we all exchange notes, tips on where to meet up and study (often it is just strangers since I do not know most of the 200+ people in my classes). It is a much more informal setting than e-mailing back and forth, and gets the message out quicker if someone has a burning question, needs to borrow a book, etc.

  26. Jiro says:

    Hi,

    I have read both blog posts and, even I had no interest on the subject, once I read the second post, I thought it would be a good idea to explain my particular and never-before mentioned way of using Facebook.

    I am not on Facebook to like posts, watch what other people do or anything of the sort. I have a Facebook account just for one reason:

    1. To follow pages. This is my main motivation to have a Facebook account. Instead of having to visit each site I like every day or week, or subscribe to any newsletter from every website I find interesting, I just click Like on their pages to follow updates. This has proven, to date, to be the most efficient way of reading all kinds of articles of my interest.

    It is a great way of finding material I like without having to wander around the website. Cal, this is a good point even if it does not change your mindset.

  27. Patrick says:

    “Argument #2: Facebook might offer you personal or professional benefits that you don’t even know about. You cannot reject this service until you have tried it for a while.”

    You don’t have to try it, others have and have experienced results. What makes you use email? What makes you use a computer? Others surely convinced you to use it, then you did, and it helped. There is absolutely no doubt you’re missing out on business.

    You can be stubborn and not even try it. The only person that affects is you.

  28. Lisa says:

    I joined FB back when you had to have an e-mail address from one of a certain set of universities to join.

    I guess it was OK. Mostly, it was distracting and helped maintain connections with people I would never bother to make the effort see in person again. (I live about 1,000 miles from where I grew up and went to high school.)

    I deleted (not just deactivated) my account more than a year ago. I do not miss it at all.

  29. Jess H. says:

    Cal, would you write a post about what services you DO use and why? It’s not just helpful to rule things out, it’s helpful to understand how you rule things in.

    More generally: I have a Facebook account. After an initial phase of updating occasionally, I don’t check it or post. It exists so that people can find me; if they need to reach me, the messaging service forwards to my email. That’s it. It’s basically another interface to my email.

    G+, on the other hand … I’ve curated a top-notch professional community there, which has given me the opportunity to work on award-winning projects and gotten me nominated for major awards in my field. But that’s basically because I use it very mindfully, basically as a faster and more informal email discussion list with more ability to curate who gets involved in a particular conversation.

  30. Tina Myers says:

    Interestingly, I use as a motivational tool for myself. I can only go on FB when I have completed something. It works very well for me! I have family across the country and world and this way I feel some connection to them because I have very little time for phone calls and email.

  31. C Dalal says:

    Cal,
    I’ve been reading some of Gretchen Rubin’s blog recently and she has a system where she identified people as either being abstainers or moderators. I believe she applies this to junk food but I think it works for social media as well. You seem like an abstainer and prefer to focus on things that matter to you and add value to you. Irrelevant venues such as facebook are better left out of sight. I’m the same way. However, moderators feel better knowing they have access to facebook and have the capacity to limit themselves to checking it once a week or even once a month. While this time may be considered wasteful, the comfort they get from logging on outweighs the anxiety they feel when the door to facebook is fully closed by deactivation. I think your main point is to limit distraction and focus on important things. Facebook is clearly a distraction but the way to limit it in people’s life is dependent on their own individual personalities, don’t you think?

  32. chris says:

    i find this whole thing fascinating. if you only choose people on facebook that you care about staying in touch with, then there is a lot less nonsense. I notice such a difference in the phases of life of my friends in faraway places before we had facebook and after. I lack a certain amount of context for the parts before facebook, that I am now able to effortlessly keep up with. I check once/twice per day and that’s it. It really is such a benefit to me.

  33. Chris Ming says:

    I enrolled in Cal and Scott’s pilot course, and feel I have an intermediate grasp on how Cal views his work (not the work itself. I’m not an academic. I don’t pretend to be one.) The important thing to realize about all of Cal’s arguments (and any counter-arguments) is that it’s all in the context of 1. our industry and 2. our level in that industry.

    In Cal’s field, he holds everything he says as true, regarding missed/not missed opportunities, focus, attention to hard / meaningful work, etc. For any of the commentors, we don’t necessarily know their fields. Thus, their argument may not hold water in Cal’s field, but in their field, they may be 100% correct.

    I work in entertainment (Hollywood). I assist three literary agents. For me, I believe the use of social tools and “thousands of pinging,” is important. Constant contact, across a number of mediums, is important. It’s crucial to develop relationships that will prove valuable to me and my peers, now and for years down the line. This is the nature of our business, for our generation, at our level.

    I stress “level” because it may (almost certainly isn’t) not be true for people at a higher level. For example, my boss has relationships he’s fostered over a 40 year career. While I may need to ping 5 people 10 times over the course of 1 year to begin to build that relationship, he can make 1 phone call to the head of a studio and make something happen. He doesn’t use Facebook (or Twitter, or Tumblr, etc. ad nauseum) because that tool isn’t relevant to him, in his context.

  34. Mariya says:

    This is my last year of college, and I started using Facebook in high school. By this point, I’ve noticed that if I’m busy with work that I enjoy, I completely forget about Facebook, and don’t check it for several weeks. I just find that Facebook is just not interesting to me anymore, and I only really go when I’m bored or am procrastinating (which isn’t good, but I don’t stay on there for long). Plus I feel like I have to check it once in awhile because people my age find it convenient for communication purposes. So I’ll keep it, but I don’t find it that much of a distraction since it’s so uninteresting compared to things going on in my real life.

  35. Katy says:

    I guess a lot depends on how you/the people around you operate. For me it’s huge timesaver because almost everything I need or am I involved with puts information up there in one convenient place. The university has all it’s internships, important news etc… societies put event and projects up, work puts up rotas, any group projects are made ten times easier, and all my courses have their own page.

    80% of the information would be available elsewhere, and with things like rotas and group discussions you can use emails, phones etc… but to have it all in one place saves trawling through loads of different sites, and offers up opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.

    No one needs it though, and only an individual can determine whether it’d be worth it. If you can get by fine without it, why bother signing up for an extra service? And if you know it’s going to be a time sink then you should be sure the benefits outweigh the negatives. My 16 year old sister quit during her exams and has managed to survive not being on it ever since. Despite being a teenager among other fickle teenagers no ones forgotten her, she’s made plenty of friends since, and gets on fine because for her it was just a distraction. (Should probably point out I apparently have immense willpower when it comes to facebook, I only go on it to get the information I need, and can go weeks without going near it. For me it’s a not a distraction in the slightest)

  36. Estara says:

    Somehow, even with the benefits of using FB for interaction with school organizations, it’s not really effective.
    I have been president of two student clubs. We utilized FB, but to no avail; posters announcing events did more good than posting on facebook. And as far as getting books needed; you don’t need facebook for that. In my opinion, nothing trumps human interaction face to face.

    That being said, the fear of facebook is probably worse than having it; I have one, but I only use it as necessary, which isn’t very often. It simply isn’t on my radar – it’s a tool, not a master.

  37. Sanjay says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I just wanted to let you know that your posts changed my attitude toward Facebook and I have now deactivated it for about a month now. Strangely I feel much more focused, calmer and I would say happier. I intend to never re-activate it!

    In my case I realized that Facebook had actually become a burden in the sense that people expected me to ‘like’ and/or comment on their statuses and on some occasions actually brought it up in separate conversations and made a big deal about why I wasn’t liking their statuses etc. FB had become too much of a responsibility in addition to having 2 kids to take care of. If I wanted more responsibility I would have had a third child….no thanks FB!

  38. Dave Small says:

    I appreciate the wisdom of your post. I’m in my 50s and occasionally reflect back on my parenting. There are some things I would have changed. One of the majors could be summed up in two words: less television. This simple step would have resulted in less conflict and more imagination. Now we’ve expanded and mobilized the options (certainly with many benefits but also with many drawbacks). Good leaders and wise teachers challenge the culture and encourage discipline and moderation. Good post Cal!

  39. Richard F says:

    Whoever wrote #4 is, frankly put, stupid. There is quite literally nothing serendipitous about Facebook and never has been. As for interesting stuff? It cannot be so terribly interesting that someone feels compelled to “tell the Internet” rather than inform people of it directly. This is effectively talking to yourself and hoping all of your friends also overhear you while simultaneously not attempting to tell them directly.

  40. James says:

    Really want to thank you for these posts about Facebook. Before you’ve began this mini-series I had already identified Facebook as a major area of concern and problem in my life. The 20 seconds it takes to check Facebook start to add up, and the mental effect is huge as well.

    My one issue now though is I only have contact info for some people through Facebook. Losing Facebook will mean I’ll have to spend time to connect with these people through other means. Still… it might very well be worth it. The addiction, even if it seems small, is huge. Thanks for really getting me thinking hard on it!

  41. AS says:

    How is argument #3 a reason to avoid Facebook? I also only really check it during downtime, and I don’t see how this impairs my ability to focus on work while working. Maybe I am just immune to that effect?

  42. AS says:

    If I start checking Facebook during my downtime, in other words, I’m convinced that the overall quality and quantity of time I can spend doing hard things — like writing or solving proofs — will, rather quickly, begin to decrease.

    What is the reasoning for this? I check Facebook and do other frivolous things in my downtime, yet I don’t believe it affects my ability to do hard things, which I’ve done successfully.

  43. Jordan says:

    Cal,

    I’m surprised you actually had to qualify this further (despite the excellent content). I would’ve thought that your perspective on using FB would be very clear by now!

    – J

  44. Wyw says:

    Hi,

    This is directly related to this blogpost, but I’ve noticed you changed the format of the blog. The letters are kind of too big right now and although the make-over is nice, it’s actually harder to read because there is a lot of scrolling going on due to all the big writing. The blog column is also wider, which means it takes longer to scan lines in a paragraph. :)

  45. psoe says:

    Cal,
    Where has the search box gone with your new blog layout??? I can’t find the old posts that I read quite regularly easily anymore.

  46. Zach says:

    Cal,

    I think it’d be a great idea for you to use a unique avatar of some kind now that little photos appear next to every comment.

    I find the new site (while lovely) washes out the comment author names and makes it hard to see when you’re commenting. I like to skim the comments reading just your replies, so having an avatar would make the process of finding your comments much easier.

    Love the re-design!

  47. Pingback: Odds and Ends
  48. It is annoying….but it’s freeeeee. Somehow anything free is intriguing! My FB page is set up to help find employment. Can’t hurt. It’s just the age we live in. If you’re not on it, you may loose out. http://www.monicadinatale.com

  49. Wes Lee says:

    All work and no play make Cal a dull boy.

  50. Janet Sherman says:

    Facebook is a small minded social net work with a nasty small minded sense of retribution. I quit fb because of the emails I got from low brow sites that falsified names. THEN I made the mistake of joining again, so I could give my condolences to a family member that lost their kin, my best friend. I then quit, because I still think facebook’s email advertisement is too intrusive and too unprivate for my tast?. So what did I get for quitting again ? ( after politely trying to say that FB was jut not for me)!? I got the resurfacing of all the old slutty emails that I quit for in the first place…. it is as if they purposefully tracked me, and for revenge on my quitting a second time, they let me have it with their crude sense of revenge. Good go! That really tells me I was right about FACEBOOK being the culprit of low brow advertisement, and not some tag along. It is FACEBOOK that has a image problem…. they are, were, and always will be a low brow, sub class humor social network that aspires to be hurtful and vengeful, and sell their clients if it suites them.

    I will sell my shares, and wait for what I know you will eventually attain –lice and social crabs.

  51. morgankhat says:

    When Facebook first started becoming popular, my Buffalo cousins persuaded me to join. I figured it would be a good way to keep up with family events. I soon learned it was a colossal waste of my time and opted out. A couple years later, my West Coast nephews convinced me to get on board again. Not too long afterward, one of their wives e-mailed me and said “Did you know your brother was in the hospital?” No, I didn’t. Not one bit of the Facebook chatter from his sons revealed that important (to me) fact. I terminated the account again and haven’t been back on since.

  52. Tim says:

    Facebook a digital continuation of high-school, created by an insecure socially inept boy.

  53. Martin says:

    The way I see Facebook…not worth the trouble.
    If you are not in it, DO NOT join. If you are already in…LEAVE NOW.

    I hate it because the whole media is always telling you to “like us in facebook…”, “follow us in facebook”, etc…
    I really do not know what they want with it, and I do not care. If I want to know, I will get a book, or read it when I feel like it. No need to join anything in order to do so.

    Keep your privacy too. Haven’t you ever had an ex, or somebody who you deleted from your life suddenly appear again as a “person you may know”?

    Don’t you wonder?

  54. James says:

    I have been waiting to find a post like this for some time. I started blogging, in my retirement, last August 2013 and believed that I just had to suffer the unbelievable torture of using Facebook. Now 8 months later I have finally realised the utter futility of it and the time I have wasted. Since the awkening I have concentrated on developing my blog which I love. Guess what? Social media has done nothing for my blog but has wasted a lot of time. Now people are finding me via search engines and I am gaining quality followers. Slowly, I’ll admit, but seriously committed intelligent people and not the flybynight tittle tattle time wasters of Facebook. I still maintain my FB but really don’t bother much with it. So now I am fielding well written comments and likes to posts instead of worrying that Mary has bigger arse than her husband!!! Oh, and while I’m at it, since I retired I don’t need a mobile phone anymore. If I want to talk with anyone I use Skype (and it’s free). Imagine telling that to a teenager or high -flyer for that matter!!

  55. Paul Bosch says:

    I love this post. I am not on face book and have zero desire to be. I am an extrovert and extremely outgoing and social. I have spent my whole life communicating face to face or on the phone with people. I have been in the military, worked in Law Enforcement and in corporate sales for a very large company.
    Can someone please explain to me where there would be time to go on face book? I wake up at 630 am and go for a 2-3 mile run. I come home shower and make my healthy breakfast bowl (Thank you Mike Dolce Diet). I then drive to work. I work when I am at work. If you are on face book or doing anything other than work when you are at work, I consider you a thief and yes, you are stealing from the company. Sorry I am not a thief. At lunch, I eat my lunch and like to read a non fiction book for 20 minutes focusing on self improvement. Home at 5pm or 6pm. Go through mail. Relax a few minutes and go to the gym or grocery store. Come home, prepare a fresh healthy dinner. It is now 8pm and I am exhausted. I would like to spend the next hour or so watching a favorite show on TV or maybe reading more because I am a reading fanatic or just calling a friend or family member to talk about their day. Now it is 10pm and I am going to bed. When in the Hell in that day would I ever have time to go on face book? To accomplish what? To read how Sally and John went to Home Depot and couldn’t find the shower door they needed for their bathroom? Seriously what am I am I missing?

    Also if you check your face book, phone or text while driving, you deserve to die in a violent crash. Seriously do the world a favor and don’t breed or vote ever again if you think it’s okay to face book or text while driving.

    Bottom line. If you have a life and live proactively and productively, there is no time for face book. Those are the facts and they cannot be disputed!

    1. lol u suck says:

      bro….. your life sounds boring as crap…. even without Facebook… BTW, if you’re gonna take time to write a post about how dont have time for anything. You’re human. We change. We adapt. We will make time. Get over yourself and stop stealing MY time with this nonsense. Go do something useful… the time you took to write that long reply is indicative of how much time you really have, its actually hilarious how hypocritical you all are.

  56. chgirl says:

    love this, thank you!!

  57. Rubing says:

    I have already wasted a lot of time during my graduate study, fortunately, I saw your blog, spending lots of time on Facebook is definitely very exhausting and unworthy. Another question is that I don’t know how to plan my week days and they gone so fast!!!

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