I’m still alive. I’m still right here. Yes, I left Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram in a bit of a hurry. I’m sorry for that – there’s no nice way to quietly deactivate an account but leave a single post containing a forwarding address, or a “Gone Fishing” notice.
It hasn’t even been two full years since my last trial separation, but it feels, this time, like when I finally quit smoking for good, over ten years ago. I woke up this morning with a smile, and the conviction that leaving was the best decision for me. I didn’t have one craving, not one urge to “check Facebook.” I missed my friends there, but they’re smart people. If they miss me, they know how to find me.
I don’t do “Goodbye, forever, Cruel World!” posts. As a former moderator, I’m all too well aware that most of those end up with the author slinking back, tail between their legs, wishing they hadn’t made a scene about leaving a site in the first place. But neither do I want the reasons for my leaving to be a mystery.
Facebook makes a great deal of noise about wanting to keep its users “safe” online, whatever that means. While I often wish the Internet came with training wheels, it doesn’t – and Facebook keeping us “safe” is like the a serpent guarding the henhouse. He may not eat the hens, but he’ll hiss, bite, and steal a few eggs without so much as a pang of remorse.
Two years ago, I reported – and recruited several of my Facebook friends to report – a graphic illustration that appeared in a public group on Facebook depicting small children engaged in a very explicit sex act with an adult woman. Each of us received the same response from Facebook, claiming they’d reviewed the image and that it did not violate Facebook’s “community standards.” Of course it did. It also violated U.S. law. Ultimately, the page was closed by its owner, after Facebook agreed that one nude photo of an adult woman did, in fact, violate its community standards and they asked the page owner to remove it.
There were other things that had bothered me about Facebook, beginning with a sketchy psychological experiment they allowed to be conducted on their users without knowledge or consent; their uneven handling of “hate speech” (they’re fine with hate speech when it comes from certain celebrities); their odd partnering with Kaspersky and others to protect users from non-existent malware. Then, in October, we saw headlines like this one: How Kaspersky AV reportedly was caught helping Russian hackers steal NSA secrets and in November, we saw: Here are the Russia-linked Facebook ads released by Congress, proof that Russia meddled with the election process through propaganda and manipulation of people’s political views and opinions through the use of social media. Twitter also provided a platform for Russian influence with these phoney accounts. I’m convinced that dead people, impersonators, and bots will outnumber living, breathing users of Facebook in less than a year, if they don’t already.
If you’ve ever seen Facebook’s eerily accurate guesses as to who else is in the photos you’ve shared, you know that it has world class facial recognition algorithms. Facebook, Google, and TinEye all used to do a much better job of identifying faces; if they now claim they don’t do it, I’m guessing it’s because they, and several governments, want to keep those toys to themselves, or prevent people from abusing them. As in, using them to prove certain Facebook accounts are imposters who have stolen images of real people and used them for fraudulent purposes.
Which makes the final straw even more baffling: Facebook’s Tone-Deaf Plan to Tackle Revenge Porn by Having Victims Upload Nude Photos What could possibly go wrong with that plan, laudable as its purported goal may be? April Glaser suggests a more reasonable approach: “Perhaps once an algorithm recognizes when a photo of a partially clothed body is uploaded, it should then run facial recognition software on the photo. If it detects that this is possibly another Facebook user, then it should flag the image to be reviewed by a professional who works at Facebook.”
I now concede defeat. We’re not going to change Facebook, or any other “too big to fail” company, until it’s no longer too big to fail. I have no expectation of a mass exodus, any time soon. So, if I can’t change Facebook, I can at least keep it from changing me. I just can’t go around irritated by it all the time.
At the upper right corner of the screen, you’ll see a link, Where to Find Me. All of that, except the Facebook and Instagram links, is still active. I’ve switched out Whatsapp for Viber, and I’m giving Flickr another look as an Instagram replacement. EyeEm is another fun photo sharing site; you can even sell photos there.
Near the top of the right sidebar, on every page of this blog, there’s a link that says, Subscribe to Blog via Email. That causes new posts to be delivered to your inbox. And if you’re on WordPress.com, you can just follow A Fresh Perspective there, and it’ll show up in Reader. Anyway, I hope you will. The subscriber numbers you see on the sidebar are grossly inflated, as Jetpack counts all my Twitter followers, too. Right now, I’m writing for about twelve of you.
You’re the best twelve readers I know. And I’ll keep blogging and working on that story, as long as it amuses at least two of us. I did have to take a break and let the 50K in 30 days thing go. Pinched nerves are weird, sometimes painful, sometimes just distracting. My left index finger feels like…remember when you were a kid, and you’d wind a strand of hair or a rubber band around your finger and watch it turn purple? Feels like that. Only not purple. Like your lip after a shot of Novocain at the dentist, just as it’s starting to wake up, and you bite it. Hard enough to draw blood. And it’s half awake. Just enough to hurt. You know the feeling.
That’s not supposed to go on for a week or two. And yes, I have an appointment with a specialist on Thursday.
So I slowed down. NaNoWriMo’s not worth risking permanent nerve damage. But as long as you’re reading, I won’t quit. I had planned to post another chapter, but the weather’s been stunning, the sky’s an amazing color I’ve dubbed “impossibly blue,” and there’s nothing wrong with my legs, so I’ve been taking long walks in the park, feeding the Fitbit. Remember Tamagotchis? Fitbit’s happy to be alive. So am I.
In case you think I’m exaggerating when I say that the sky’s “impossibly blue,” let me take you on a little stroll – I took these Friday afternoon, and there are no filters or modifications: