For years I lived happily without a Facebook account and it was only in 2016 that I finally signed up after wanting to experiment more with Messenger for an upcoming hiking trip with some friends. Recently though I’ve considered leaving Facebook, for a variety of reasons, and returning home to the dark rock that I once lived under but unfortunately I don’t think that’s entirely possible today. Too much of my real life social network is tied up with it. So I heartily agree with everything that Sarah Jeong writes about in this piece about leaving Facebook:
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Facebook had replaced much of the emotional labor of social networking that consumed previous generations. We have forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) how many hours our parents spent keeping their address books up to date, knocking on doors to make sure everyone in the neighborhood was invited to the weekend BBQ, doing the rounds of phone calls with relatives, clipping out interesting newspaper articles and mailing them to a friend, putting together the cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and more. We don’t think about what it’s like to carefully file business cards alphabetically in a Rolodex. People spent a lot of time on these sorts of things, once, because the less of that work you did, the less of a social network you had.
Facebook lets me be lazy the way a man in a stereotypical 1950s office can be lazy. Facebook is the digital equivalent of my secretary, or perhaps my wife, yelling at me not to forget to wish someone a happy birthday, or to inform me I have a social engagement this evening. If someone is on Facebook, I have a direct line to them right away — as though a switchboard operator has already put them on Line 1 for me. Facebook is one step away from buying my kids their Christmas presents because I’m too busy to choose them.
Facebook turns a necessary labor of love into a profitable business.