Why I Hate Facebook

June 4, 2011
By , Doylestown, PA
I hate Facebook. That's a lie; I hate that I love Facebook. I, along with 500 million other active Facebook users, have an obsession ("Statistics"). It is an addiction. Facebook is like a cult; its empire keeps growing and growing, sucking in thousands of new helpless users each day, gaining more and more information about its victims, inevitably hooking each and consuming their lives. Yet we don't seem to have a problem with this. Often we read about Facebook-related social issues - Facebook depression, Facebook bullying, Facebook's invasion of privacy. But these never stop anyone from Facebooking. Ironically, to raise awareness about these issues, pages are created on Facebook.

My cousin Courtney called me last week. She was asking me about what classes her daughter Kendall, a freshman in high school, should take over the next few years. Then she brought up Facebook.

"I think Kendall uses it too much," she worried, "I told her to deactivate it until AP tests are over. What do you think?"

I didn't know what to say. I often correspond with Kendall on Facebook and knew that she was very connected to all of her friends with it. So I told Courtney the truth, "I use it constantly. I check it on my phone while I cross the street, while I ride my bike, as soon as I wake up each morning. So I don't know if I can give you the best answer. I'm biased."

"I know it's the right thing to do," Courtney continued, "but she's worried that her friends will all hate her if she stops using it."

Hate her? That was the moment when I realized what Facebook is doing to us. "Then they're not her real friends."

In a mere twenty minutes on Facebook, 1,000,000 links are shared, 1,323,000 photos are tagged, 1,851,000 statuses are updated, 1,972,000 friend requests are accepted, 2,716,000 photos are uploaded, 1, 587,000 wall posts are made, and 10,208,000 comments are posted (O’Neill). Multiply each of those numbers by seventy-two, and that's a lot of action in twenty-four hours. While I may be one of the 250 million users that checks Facebook at least once a day, I am not much of a post-er ("Statistics"). I log onto the site fifteen to twenty times a day, starting at six o'clock when I wake up and ending at ten o'clock when I go to bed. It's the first thing I see when I get up and the last thing I see before I go to sleep. I check it from my phone before school starts, I check it in my car after school ends, I check it when I get home on my iPod, and I check it all throughout the time I do my homework on the computer. But what am I checking for? I don't even know. I rarely post anything on anyone's wall, I rarely send messages, and I rarely update my profile. Yet I have 616 friends, 563 tagged photos, and an unknown number of hours spent on this one site.

It is controlling my life.

It knows everything about me. All of the ads on the side of my profile are bombarding me with products and services that I would be interested in: lacrosse camp, college counseling services in Doylestown, Lady Gaga, 7Up. On Facebook's information site itself, it provides a cute success story about a company called CM Photographics, which "generated nearly $40,000 in revenue directly from a $600 advertising investment on Facebook" ("Reach Your Target Audience"). How? Well Facebook, knowing all that it does, shoved the ad in the faces of all 24-30 year old engaged women. The social network encourages these companies to basically stalk its users, finding out who they should advertise to in order to get the best results.

It gets worse. "Facebook Ads uses a user's IP address to determine location so that your ad is reaching the right people" ("Reach Your Target Audience"). An IP address? I don't even know what that means. But from the pretty chart that Facebook displays on this page, it shows that a person's IP address can pinpoint their exact location on the globe. Great. Recently, Facebook also introduced a new feature that makes tagging photos easier - facial recognition. You no longer have to be registered as a criminal to have your face recognized; isn't that nice? So not only does it know where you live, but it could pick you out in a crowd (Popkin).

Facebook not only knows everything about each of its users, but allows them to know everything about everyone else. Andy Ostroy of the Huffington Post couldn't care less about "what they're drinking, eating, thinking, reading, watching, and/or are listening to every five minutes" (Ostroy). He asserts that while "there's probably two or three of our really best pals who actually do care what the hell we do all the time," the other "5000 Facebook friends really don't care about these non-stop musings, as evidenced by the fact that virtually 99% of them have zero replies [to our posts]."

So maybe 600 out of my 616 friends don't care about my life. And I really don't care about theirs. Yet some of them think that I, and everyone else on Facebook, do. Like my cousin Andie, who is an obnoxious Facebooker. She advertises every detail of her life on her profile; in the past week, she got "cold feet" in finding out the sex of her dog's unborn puppy, voted for Lauren Alaina on American Idol, burned 343 calories on a walk down Southeast Tenth Street, laughed at her daughter's response to an injured bird in the yard ("It needs its mommy"), and had to deal with her endlessly bleeding elbow after cutting it on a trash can. I think I could live without knowing most of those things.

In a recent Washington Post article, people's penchant to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets is mocked, as the author jokes that a girl in New York posted as a status that she “named her pimple Steve. (She also is a fan of Justin Bieber AND the Jonas Brothers, and, under favorite books, notes: ‘I don't like readingg.’)” (Weingarten). While some people, like Weingarten's pimple girl, have way too much free time on their hands to personalize their profiles, become a "fan" of eighty-three pages, and change their "profile photos as often as I change my underwear," others, like I, spend our time watching what other people post (Ostroy). No matter how little I care about Rosie S. (who I went to camp with in 2008), Kevin B. (who was in my first grade class then moved to Florida), or Adam G. (who I think goes to school with my brother...), I'm still wasting my time paying attention to every detail they reveal on Facebook. For some reason, I am intrigued by random pieces of information that these people decide to tell the world. Maybe I wish my life could be as cool as their lives, maybe I think the things my "friends" post are pathetic and funny. I truly cannot put my finger on any one reason that I am addicted to Facebook.

I went to write on Kendall's Facebook wall today, just to see how she's doing and to ask how her AP World History test went. I looked on the left hand side of my profile where my "family” is listed. And by "family," I mean mostly friends that are labeled "sisters" and "brothers," and a few aunts and cousins who are actually related to me. Kendall was no longer listed under "family" as "cousin (female)." I took to the search bar on the top of the page, typing in her full name. Nothing.

I texted her immediately, asking if she had deactivated her profile. "Yuupp /:" was the reply.

"Omg that’s so smart. I seriously admire you so much for that," I sent back.

"Yeah like I'm sad cuz I feel like socially unaware of what's going on...but at the same time I guess it's good because it's just such a distraction."

I can no longer sit down and write an essay in one shot. In fact, while writing this I have flipped tabs to check Facebook approximately once every ten minutes. I can no longer go out for a day with my family and feel that peace of having no connection to the world at home. I can no longer have a conversation with my grandparents and not bring up something that I learned on Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. It’s everywhere. It’s on billboard ads. "Find us on Facebook!" It’s on websites. "Be the first of your friends to become a fan of this video!" It’s on receipts. "'Like' us for a free coffee!" I cannot escape the epidemic that is Facebook, and I fear that no matter how much I try, I never will.

While the largest percentage of Facebook users are between the ages of 24 and 54, the teens are the ones who use are on the network most often (”Media Use Statistics”). Many of these teens have the same problem that I do - addiction. One 19-year-old blogger reasons that "the most addicting part of Facebook is posting new statuses; uploading new photos; getting attention from people and wanting people to notice your status updates and photos and comment on them" (Spencer). I'm sure all teens agree that it "builds your self-esteem and pride to see many people 'like' your status updates and your photos," but this is not always the case (Spencer). I feel like Facebook often knocks me down more than it builds me up, and I often wish I could end my abusive relationship with the site. Seeing "photos of happy-looking people having great times" is sometimes difficult, especially when I'm having a bad day or feeling down on myself ("Docs Warn About..."). It makes me feel worse, lost, and stuck in a boring life. Facebook is a silent killer of self-confidence, and sometimes I think it's degrading mine.

This is part of Facebook depression, which "can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria or other real-life encounters that can make kids feel down" ("Docs Warn About..."). No, I don't have Facebook depression. I am mature enough to realize that "Facebook provides a skewed view of what's really going on," as not every day of someone's life consists of exhilarating parties or trips to Laos ("Docs Warn About…"). But at times I can't help feeling badly about myself when I see my "friends" engaging in excessive fun while I sit home and surf Facebook.

The worst, though, is seeing my real friends' (not to be confused with my Facebook "friends") posts. Facebook exposes my friends in a completely different light and it's sometimes very shocking. I have one friend in particular who posts statuses every few minutes, which I find ridiculous, obnoxious, and a complete waste of time. A Wall Street Journal article accurately expresses my concern with this habit, asking "'If we didn't call each other on the phone every time we ate before, why do we need the alerts now?'" (Bernstein). Other friends think it's humorous to tag me in horrible pictures, the kind where I'm looking in a totally random direction, making a disgusting face, or just appear really unattractive. If 616 people are able to see such a picture, then why would they think it’s okay to tag me in it? I care about how I am perceived online. I don't even post many statuses or upload many of my own pictures. But when I "untag" myself from one of my friends' pictures, they're offended.

"You should delete that Facebook," my mom keeps telling me. Now she has Kendall's choice to hold above my head too.

"I will!" I respond every time, "at some point." I went to the "deactivation" page on Facebook just to learn what's involved. Can I really turn my profile back on again with the snap of my fingers like they claim? According to the given information, yes. I can deactivate my Facebook and at any given time, reactivate it like I was never gone (“Deactivation”). I clicked "deactivate."

"Addison will miss you." "Vinny will miss you." "Eric will miss you." "Samantha will miss you." "Sarah will miss you." Pictures of me with each of these people were huge, lining the top of the deactivation page. The funny thing is that I rarely talk to three of these people on Facebook at all. Two of them I never talk to, ever. I closed the page and went back to my profile.

So why don't I just sign off? Get rid of Facebook for good?

I can't. It's an addiction I don't have the strength to kill. I fear that if I deactivate my Facebook, I will be completely cut off from a lot of people I want to be in touch with. I won't get invited to events that are announced on solely Facebook, I won't know who's going out with who or get to show people the cool things I've been doing. I honestly wish that I could just give it up forever, deactivate it and never turn back. But the Facebook Empire that controls the world today makes doing this so difficult. Facebook is manipulative, controlling, degrading, and hard to break an addiction to. I am obsessed with it, but I hate that it has control over me.

Facebook is only contributing negatively to society. It builds people up when they are praised, or “liked,” but more often knocks people down when they aren’t. It’s all about whose status will be most commented on, whose pictures are the funniest, and who has the most friends. Yet we still give into this social networking giant, feeding it more and more information as if it doesn’t know enough about us already. Facebook is a manipulative, controlling, degrading keystone in today’s world, and I hate that I am obsessed with it.

I have only one Facebook-less friend, Kieren. She often says she will get a Facebook at some point, but she has yet to do so. Everyone is always in utter shock when she says she doesn't have one, and often ask her if she's been living in a cave.

"No," she says calmly, "I just don't want it to eat my life."

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