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Pam Frampton: Facebook, you’re no friend of mine

Facebook is not for everyone.
Facebook is not for everyone. — 123RF Stock Photo

For the second time in eight years, I’ve thrown off the fetter that is Facebook.

Pam Frampton
Pam Frampton

 

And it feels good.

Not like some huge relief, because the fact is, it’s never played a significant role in my life.

More like the lighter feeling you get after you drop your income tax return in the slot at the Canada Revenue Agency, or when you get your driver’s licence renewed.

It’s something accomplished; one less little thing niggling at you.

I didn’t do it because Facebook is embroiled in a security scandal, with people’s personal information and, in some case, call logs and texts inappropriately accessed and allegedly used to try and influence voters in the U.S. presidential campaign. Frankly, I’ve never given Facebook enough information to make me worth their while. But hearing about it day after day for the past week or so has certainly helped keep “deactivate Facebook account” at the top of my to-do list.

Now, I know as someone who works in the media I’m supposed to be all about connecting with people and sharing content and trying to attract eyes to what I’m writing.

But frankly, sometimes Facebook feels a little too much like one of those high-maintenance friends you hung out with as a teenager: “Do you like my hair like this? Do these jeans work with this sweater? How about this lipstick?”

I know there are millions of people out there who swear by Facebook and see it as a quick way of staying in touch with family and friends. There are people working in the media who see it as a goldmine of great stories. Others use it as a means of shattering social isolation and connecting with likeminded people.

I get that — and more power to you if it works for you.

But for me, seeing the constant photos and posts updating people’s lives, and the barrage of responses they elicit — “Lookin’ good!” “Nice!” “Beautiful pics!” — makes me feel like unless I’m doing the same I’m breaching some rules of internet etiquette that I haven’t even had time to learn.

It’s not that I feel inadequate looking at someone’s honeymoon photos from Bermuda, or their kayaking shots along some rugged Newfoundland coast. It’s more like if I’m not contributing my own steady stream of content to the site I feel like I’m somehow letting my side down.

And frankly, I have enough pressures from real-life responsibilities and relationships without having to bear the weight of virtual ones. Why should I worry about the social stigma of not responding to a friend request from a person I have never actually been friends with? Why should I fret about possibly missing some news tip or work-related message from someone who can’t tell by my sparsely populated Facebook page that I’m never there and I do not use it to communicate?

So long, Facebook. It’s not like we had anything that was real.

Facebook’s mission is “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” On many fronts it accomplishes that, without doubt. It’s a great forum for pulling people together, spreading the word and getting things done.

But it’s also about building audiences and providing information that can be used to target you.

And, worst of all, it’s made all the world a stage in a sense that even Shakespeare might not have imagined when he coined that phrase.

On Monday, a man in Michigan was convicted of first degree felony murder for a 2016 attack in which he broke into the home of 26-year-old Brittany Southwell and live-streamed her shooting death on Facebook.

Thankfully, nothing like that has happened close to home, but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Facebook can bring the world to my door in ways that have me making sure the door is firmly locked. And bolted.

So long, Facebook. It’s not like we had anything that was real.

You’re one beast I just don’t have time — or the inclination — to feed.

Pam Frampton is a columnist whose work is published in The Western Star and The Telegram. She is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email pamela.frampton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton

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