I’ve had the “pleasure” of reading a piece by Robert Gehl titled, “Why I Left Facebook: Stubbornly Refusing to not Exist Even After Opting Out of Mark Zuckerberg’s Social Graph”. I use “pleasure” sarcastically as I found this literature a bit of, for lack of better words, a pity party. Gehl argues that although Facebook claims to be this participant driven, democratically run entity, that in fact this is just a mask of false security and there is no democracy behind them. I feel Gehl makes a few valid points regarding the issues around privacy and intellectual property and the issue surrounding those who don’t have Facebook potentially being “excluded from social or professional events or discussions” (Gehl, p.225). Other than these areas I found myself disagreeing with majority of the other points Gehl was trying to express; which he did through a number of quotes from other Facebook quitters but never giving us his clear reason(s) why he walked out on Facebook.
While reading this article I wasn’t sure whether to laugh at the absurdity of the points being made or feel sorry for those people who had been quoted for why they left Facebook. Now to be clear this is my opinion, not fact, from my life’s perspective and experience with Facebook. I feel Gehl is trying to make his points by turning Facebook into something it’s not. Facebook is not a country, it’s not a search engine, it’s not “the internet” but it’s a company. And like any other company its shareholders have a say in how it’s run, not the people who use or consume products from the company, as what was trying to be depicted negatively on Facebook’s part for not listening or allowing proper voting on passing new terms of services in 2009. Sorry but the users don’t call the shots, those with shares and voting rights do.
Another point in the article that was silly is what happens after you leave/quit/delete Facebook. This thought that even though you have chosen to remove yourself from this social media site, are you really gone when pictures and/or comments of you remain, and in the case of a deceased person a memorial wall? This is not just Facebook specific and I feel is weak point to be made. The relationships you have with people outside of Facebook aren’t just deleted when you decide to move on. Example: in a romantic relationship that may end there is bound to be photos and letters and items around that still exist from that relationship even though it has been terminated. Likewise, my personal information at Brock University; I had been unenrolled and inactive for five years with no plans on returning but when I did, this past September, with the click of button there was all my information from years ago, my student ID and photo, my grades and financial history. These types of personal footprints and existence don’t just disappear when you say it’s time, same goes for Facebook.
I could pick a part so many perspectives within this article but I do not have the luxury of that today. One last major thing I could not disagree more with was this concern around privacy. The number of people who had problems with what they were producing on Facebook being seen by the wrong people and tearing families and relationships apart and blaming this on the privacy issues of Facebook? COME ON PEOPLE! Instead of trying to keep your multiple lives and personalities separate, be accountable for your own participation and actions and stop blaming others.