For six years, I’ve shared my life with Facebook, dutifully posting my status and responding to constant pleas to read or comment. We were happy at first, Facebook helped me rekindle old friendships and spark new ones. But now, with the passage of time, I can see her for what she really is, a heartless bitch with no respect for me, my privacy or my feelings.
Back at the beginning, it was just harmless fun – new ways to meet people, share photos and chat. It was all free, and I felt in control of what I shared and with whom. But over the years, she’s pushed me to share more and more, even when I don’t feel comfortable with it. It used to be just my friends that saw my stuff. Now they can share it with anyone. I can’t believe I didn’t see this earlier, but each year, she takes a little more.
I thought that she respected me. But I can’t overlook the things she’s done in the last couple of years: gossiping about my private conversations, carelessly sharing my email address and other personal data, even trying to influence my behaviour and control what I can say. It’s like she doesn’t care what I think. All my dirty secrets are aired online. She doesn’t even consult me any more. And when I try and object, she manipulates me into thinking she’s being reasonable:
She’s deliberately plotting against me now. Without a thought for my privacy, she’s conniving with other companies and plans to sell my photos and updates to advertisers. I’ve tried to complain, but she ignores me. Now she’s blackmailing me – I’m not allowed to say what I like unless I tell the whole world.
Time to leave?
I don’t want to be treated like this any more. I want out. But it’s only now, when I try to leave, that I realize just how trapped I am.
Facebook owns my digital social life. If I leave, I will be cut off from my friends. It’s like Facebook owns my address book, and I’m not allowed to check it without her breathing down my neck.
Facebook has locked us in far worse than Microsoft Office or Internet Explorer ever did. It’s not my files that tie me to Facebook, but my friends… If I’m going to leave, I’ll have to convince everyone to come with me. And even if I could, there’s no obvious place for us to go. There’s no other way to store friend connections online.
Humans are inherently social, and no-one likes to turn their back on their friends. She knows this of course, manipulative cow that she is. I actually tried to leave, and look how she tugged on my heart strings, coercing me to stay:
Contrary to popular opinion, Facebook isn’t free – I’ve sold my soul, digitally. On Facebook, you’re the product. Companies pay for your eyes, and the more she knows about you, the more she can sell you for. And that’s about how much she cares about me.
I’m not not the only one who wants to leave. We need to do something soon. Facebook is drunk with power; “Instant Personalization” threatens to take over the Internet. If it works, she’ll stalk me wherever I go online, gathering information about me and selling it to the highest bidder. It’s worse than a loyalty card that tracks your purchases, because she’ll sit in on my conversations too. She’s trying to force the world to bend to her will. It’s no surprise that governments in Europe and the US are taking notice.
The backlash against Facebook is gaining ground. Even Wired has taken a stand, saying Facebook has “gone rogue”, and that we need an open alternative. Facebook is pretending to listen, but I don’t trust her any more. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.
I see the truth of my relationship with Facebook now. I’m not quite sure how to escape yet, but in the meantime, I’ve locked down my Facebook account to limit the pain she can cause me, and I’ll be watching her like a hawk with sites like these while I figure out how to take my friends with me.
Image credits: “Bad girl” by smb on Flickr. “All your friends are belong to us” by me.
* “All your friends are belong to us” is a play on the “All your base” meme.