Well, it's done. After months of tossing the issues around in my mind, today I took the plunge, and I've de-activated my Facebook account.
You could say, 'what... again?' and yes, it is true. I have de-activated and re-activated my account several times now, however, this time, I took some serious action. I firstly deleted all my photos, then all my personal information - work, likes, interests, about me, etc., and finally, one by one, I de-friended every single person on my friends list. So, if I ever to decide to log back in, I now officially have 'NO Friends'! Fortunately, the number wasn't as high as what other people have - I had 85 friends, and over half of them were family members, many of whom I have no other contact.
So, why the drastic action?
I have several, very long articles that are half-written about Facebook - the site has been of great concern to me for a long time. Here are some of the 'main' issues:
1. Anyone can sign up, from 13 years of age - and once signed up, anyone else can invite you to be their 'friend'. Parents have absolutely no parental controls over their young teens - the children can become 'friends' with whoever they choose, and of course, there are many 40+ year olds online who parade around with false accounts, pretending that they too, are young teens. Facebook is the perfect place for sexual predators.
2. Also - did you know that you can never delete your Facebook account? Once you have one, you have it. You can 'de-activate' it, and delete your posts, photos, etc., but your account stays there, and to re-activate it, all you need do is to log in with your email address and password, and it's all there, ready for you to use once again. Last time I de-activated my account, I absentmindedly logged in one day, and then I had to go through the whole process of 'de-activating' it once again.
3. The emotional crutch. Ever seen the 'I'm so useless' or 'I mess everything up' posts? All the time, people are leaving this small, cryptic messages, which are then met by ten or so supportive message from their 'friends' - 'no, you're awesome!', etc. The teen then begins to believe that their FB friends are their 'true' friends, while their family, who may be more inclined to be truthful with them, are not.
4. Following on from this, I personally know of four families that have been directly affected by having a teen on Facebook - with the result of the teen becoming withdrawn, depressed, and even violent. In three cases I know of, the teen has either run away from home, or needed to be sent away from the family - and these are good, Christian homes, torn apart, at least in part, because of Facebook
5. Privacy concerns. Did you know that if you are logged into Facebook, and have several other tabs open, that Facebook can track where you go on the Internet? That is scary. And, what right do they have? I don't especially want other people to know which sites I go to, or what I do online, and I don't believe the owners of Facebook should be able to do this.
6. Letting the whole world into your home. As a family living in the country, we feel we live pretty private lives - but no so with Facebook involved. The more people that splatter across their pages - 'having fun at the pool', or 'watching tv with the family', etc. - the more the whole world learns about us, our family, our habits, etc. I feel it's like opening a window to our house, that anyone can look through. Blogging has some similarities, but it is far more controlled, with not every person putting up comments, and then everyone else receiving a 'feed' from where they read what you are doing.
7. Addictiveness. While I have not been so affected myself, I have seen first-hand the destructive influence of Facebook, as someone becomes so addicted to putting up 'just one more post' that their family, friends and work are shoved aside. I'm still working out exactly 'why' Facebook is so darn addictive - but there is certainly a never-ending supply of conversations to have, people to meet, and updates to be made on your own 'wall'. And once again, it goes back to those emotional needs - if people are responding to your comments, you feel important somehow.
8. The goals of Facebook. I'm still researching this - but the goals of the Facebook owners are to be 'the' site - the one site online where everyone is connected - everyone's personal info, friends, family, everything - all gathered together in once place. This was the final straw. Anything that claims to do that is always of a concern. Not to mention the 'free Facebook connections' that are offered on modern mobile phones - no Internet access, but it's free to access and put updates on Facebook. And in my mind, nothing is truly 'free'.
There's more, much, much more, and I really must start typing it all up into a logical, readable article. For now, though, these are the main reasons. I really have a feeling deep down that there is far more to Facebook than meets the eye, and I for one, am done with it.