“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
– Former Facebook President Sean Parker…describing Facebook
I wasn’t prescient enough to see the clouds of conscience beginning to gather over the social media industry, and Facebook in particular, before sentiments like these began to emanate from the social networks’ most intimate circle of friends.
But I had my own misgivings…
- About the time I was spending…the time just about everyone I know was spending, on these platforms, despite all the other worthwhile things we have to do in the real world;
- About the cognitive price we pay as a society for consuming news curated for us by algorithms designed to show us only content the algorithms predict will fuel our appetites for more of the same (indeed, my discomfort with this particular aspect of social media peaked during a two-hour interview that led to this article);
- About the anxious, sad state of mind induced in so many of us because the algorithms so often serve us reminders that the Most Powerful Man in the World and the Commander in Chief of our armed forces and our nuclear arsenal and the world’s avatar for the society I was raised in is…Donald J. Trump;
- About the constant barrage of advertising to which we subject ourselves by devoting our attention to digital media scientifically designed to spoonfeed us ads;
- About the private metadata that almost 2 billion mostly-unwitting users are voluntarily handing over about themselves and their intimate friendships and associations and proclivities and the milestones in their lives, to an organization whose mission is to use that metadata to sort these individuals into infinitesimally segmented audiences to target ads and Russian fake news stories;
- About an entire generation of users who, marketing mavens tell us, are making life and consumption choices based on how hip these decisions, purchases and experiences will look as social media posts;
…and so much else about the social media experience.
So, when Facebook informed me, on Halloween, that it was the 10th anniversary of my joining the platform — of course, Facebook made me a little movie about it — rather than post the movie, I resolved once and for all to drop off Facebook. Which I did, a few days later.
When I started Peter Dorfman Creative Services almost four years ago, I anticipated that social media would represent an important outlet for the marketing content I proposed to write. Actually, I originally joined Facebook for business reasons — a prospective client insisted I join a group he had created. Honestly, though, Facebook has had barely any discernible impact on my business; it certainly hasn’t represented an important outlet for my work product.
I let friends know in advance that I was dropping off Facebook, and a surprising number indicated they were close to the same decision themselves. We’ll see. Facebook’s sticky. If you’re out on the ledge, wondering whether you can go through with this decision, relax. It’s nice out here in the real world. I’ll talk you through it.