I'd been thinking about posting on this topic for a while and, having just read two excellent articles for young people on the subject (which raised a lot of the issues I had in mind) in the global magazine 'Awake!', I thought I'd share why I decided against having a Facebook or starting to Tweet.
First off, please note that I'm not condemning these services. I think they have some intrinsic value and, like most things, can be good if used wisely, but that there are also good reasons not to jump on the bandwagon if you so decide. I decided not to and these are my reasons. If you like them, I'm not criticising you - just telling you my own thoughts (if you want to read them - see the last comment on Twitter!!)
I think my first and major reason for not getting accounts is the time factor. Recently various applications for iphone and ipad were given 'awards' and the one deemed worthy of the one for wasting the most time was, no prizes for guessing: Facebook! Squads of people have commented on the sheer time wasting element of these things as one plays around looking at this page and that, at this group and that company, 'like'-ing this product and that posting. To my mind, this kind of stuff is just plain unimportant and therefore not a good use of my valuable time. One thing I can always assure any prospective employer is that, unlike many people in the workplace these days, s/he will not come in to my office and find me on Facebook!
Another reason is privacy. As has been so often said, nothing on-line should be considered anything other than permanent. There are specialised sites that enable you to, by just entering an old, ostensibly defunct URL, to re-visit that page. I actually have a photo that I got by trawling back via that site, so I know it can be done and that information can be found. Naturally, the same goes with blogs etc, but I do try to take care that I won't regret what I post. There have been some questions raised about official spying on certain social networks as well - that the company that runs it has connections in the US intelligence and that, when you sign up, on that 'User Agreement' page that 1 in a million people reads, you give permission for every piece of information you ever submit to be totally and permanently available to certain bodies. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing to hide (which is why I'm almost always to be found on-line under my own name), but I'm not happy with that!
The final thing is association with people I would not choose as friends. Whilst I know that many networks recommend that you only connect to people you know, frankly, there are some people I know that I would not choose to spend time I don't have to with. Whilst I was studying in Taiwan, a former classmate and one of the library workers asked me to link up on Facebook and, OK, they were pleasant to have around at school, but I wasn't thinking of keeping in touch and/or pursuing active friendships with them. One girl I'd met purely by her sitting next to me in the computer room asked me to connect on Facebook as about the 3rd sentence she said to me, (after asking my name and which country I was from). It was a great relief to be able to say that I didn't use Facebook and thus evade an otherwise uncomfortable issue totally.
I liked the suggestion in the article I've just read to review 'Friends' on networks each month and delete anyone whose profile makes you uncomfy or no longer meets your requirements for 'friending'. To me, the word 'friend' means a GREAT deal more than just someone I have a passing acquaintance with. I do use the professional networking site LinkedIn, and on that I have colleagues from a while ago, but this is for work and professional use and not for forging social connections.
When it comes to Twitter another issue comes to mind on top of the above and that is: Who cares for so and so's running commentary on certain events etc? I don't have the time to sit in front of my laptop following x and y's latest 'tweet' giving their opinions on world conditions etc and, frankly, I would expect any to do the same for any of mine! I write about what I want to here, (although I don't bother with most topics that occur to me for both time and other reasons, such as not wishing to start controversies etc), and very few bother to read it. That's fine. I do it mostly for myself anyway and with certain blogs, esp the travel one, I keep it to mostly photos.
To be honest, I think that if folk spent a lot less time living vicariously through others' Facebook and Twitter comments and more out and about forging real relationships and/or getting real knowledge of something that matters and/or is genuinely interesting, there'd be more happy and satisifed people around. If one wants to use these sites, go ahead of course, but I do strongly suggest using great caution as to what you post, what you read, who you connect to and how long you spend on doing it.
I'll get off my soapbox now!!!
Finishing up some older projects
5 weeks ago