Most people who know me well know how much I absolutely hate having to use the telephone. As in, phone a human and speak to them. I struggle to read queues as it is, and without being able to see the person’s face, I am completely befuddled by telephone conversations. Having to make a telephone call fills me with a dread only matched by finding a spider somewhere near my person. As a socially awkward introvert, I have really loved living in the age of social media. It has meant that I could keep in touch with family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues from all over the world without having to directly interact.
The downside of the social media age, however, is that we, and our information, have become products. Not too long ago, you only had to take care what you share if you were a public figure of sorts, but in the last few years this has shifted tremendously when companies and politicians realised that public opinion could be swayed by analytics and injection of half-truths into the public narrative. And while I have nothing to hide, I am certainly not comfortable with just anyone having access to my information, or that of my family and friends.
And so I have been considering slowly extracting myself from certain social media sites, especially Facebook.
I tried it briefly this week, but realised that one of the ways they keep you hooked into the matrix is by allowing you to use your Facebook account to sign into to many other sites. So I need to work through each of the other sites, change my log-in method first and then I can disable my Facebook account again.
It does leave me with a vacuum, as there is currently nothing really to replace it. And, when divorcing Facebook, it also means leaving WhatsApp and Instagram behind, because, well, they’re both members of the Facebook family.
In the mean time, I have locked down my Facebook account as much as possible. Which only goes so far in, especially since some of my connections on Facebook are to people who insist on completing every single quiz under the sun – quizzes being one of the main methods of harvesting information without our permission, and not just our own information, but information about every single person we are connected to.
I am grateful that I grew up in a time when we did not need to consider these things, and avoiding stranger danger was something we only had to worry about in person. I am constantly aware of how difficult it must be to be a young person growing up in this time, where they not only have to deal with the general anxieties of growing up, but also with the ability for dangerous situations to infiltrate their lives in a way we cannot even imagine.
I am not sure how to move forward, because I have enjoyed staying in touch, but I know I no longer feel safe on Facebook, and so will probably continue with the divorce proceedings without finding a new social space for a while.