More than three years ago, I explained why I was boycotting Facebook. Yesterday, I joined Facebook. My intention was to join as The Earthling’s Handbook, but Facebook immediately responded, “You have to join with your real name! I’m the only book allowed here!” so I joined with my own name but used The Earthling’s Handbook icon as my picture. I did not give Facebook my face.
Why not? Everyone else is doing it!
That’s fine. You make your own privacy and security decisions, and I’ll make mine. I’m very uncomfortable with giving Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any [intellectual property] content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” That’s pretty different from WordPress, which can use the content of The Earthling’s Handbook only to promote The Earthling’s Handbook. If I post a photo of my face here, WordPress can’t sell it to an advertising agency that could use me as the face of some embarrassing product while never paying me a dime. (I’m still wondering exactly what “in connection with Facebook” means and exactly what will happen now that the Publicize feature of WordPress is linked to my Facebook account–this post is something of an experiment.)
Why did I end my boycott? There are two reasons:
- Facebook continues to be the main way many people communicate these days. Although The Earthling’s Handbook has gotten occasional readers who come in through Facebook after somebody read an article here and used the “share” button to post a link on Facebook, I’ve been persuaded that I will get more readers by making my writing more accessible and “like”able from within Facebook. We shall see. My goal is not to have any particular number of readers but to reach the maximum possible number of people interested in what I have to say.
- A local moms’ group that I really enjoy, when I attend the monthly in-person meetings, also has an online community that sounds like a lot of fun–and that can be accessed only through Facebook.
So now that I’ve finally given in and joined, now I see how Facebook is so much fun, right? Well, yes and no.
I wasn’t unfamiliar with what one sees inside Facebook, because I commute by public transit, and these days the majority of commuters are poking the PocketFox (my favorite term for “doing something on a smartphone”). Nearly every day someone’s Facebook is in my field of vision. What a bunch of randomness and mostly-uselessness to sort through! No wonder they feel like they don’t have time to look out the window or talk to their children! So I was not at all surprised when I’d accepted some of the friend requests that immediately began to pour in, and my homepage immediately filled with . . . stuff . . . some of it interesting, most of it reminding me that although I like these people, they like a bunch of things I don’t like. Well, maybe they’d feel the same about my Pinterest link heap (which is the place to look if you want to see what’s caught my attention on the Web–but I’m not a big fan of Pinterest, either, and rarely look at what anyone else has pinned).
However, it was exciting having five of my best friends from high school, none of whom I’d heard from in at least two years, connect with me right away. I enjoyed looking at pictures of their kids and seeing some of the groups they’re connected to. (Don’t I want to show them pictures of my adorable children, too?! Of course I do! But I don’t want to make my children’s images the property of Facebook, so I told my friends they can email me and I’ll share the pictures with them individually.) After I finished setting up my account and started making dinner, I found that I was still thinking about my old friends and what else they’d have to say and who else might reconnect with me, and I did get back on Facebook again after bedtime to see, and I thought about it again this morning, and . . . Yeah. I understand how people get sucked into Facebook. I really have to resist that, because there are so many distractions on the Internet already that it’s hard for me to get anything done at work!
Very soon I’ll set up a Facebook “fan page” for The Earthling’s Handbook, and then I’ll put a button in the sidebar and you can “like” me. I still think this kind of “liking” basically tastes like somebody loves me, but this is the way people do things these days, so I am getting with the times. (But I still don’t have a cell phone! So there.)
I know at least one person who’s going to tell me I’m being a hypocrite not posting my face on Facebook, when there are photos of my face on the Web and there are probably photos of my face on Facebook that other people took and posted without my consent. (I have never had anyone ask if it was okay to post my photo on Facebook. I have several times spoken up when someone took a photo of my baby, asking them not to put it on Facebook–I don’t know if all of them respected that.)
So here is my challenge to you, my readers: Find my face on the Internet. Leave a comment here with a link to the photo. I’m just curious what you will find!