Reflections on the Refusal to Use Facebook

From time to time, I provide my readers with a little insight into my interior life by listing some of my favorite things, and some of my pet peeves (well, I probably do this quite often, but I just don’t give it the title). I recently came upon a new pet peeve, and when I experienced it, I thought to myself, “This is my new pet peeve, and it bothers me so much that I am going to write about it.” What is it? People who refuse to create a Facebook account, and then are proud of it.

One quick note: Some folks take me way too seriously. I wrote this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor and a smile on my face.

Let me first state why I think Facebook is important, and why everyone should be on it. If I were to ask you today, in business or in personal life, can I have your email address so that we can stay in touch, or so that we can close the business deal, you would be handicapped in professional or personal life if you responded, “I don’t have an email address. I don’t check it at all.” Why? Because email has become a standard source of communication, and especially for business purposes. Gone are the cute poems, pictures and videos of the 2000s. It is now just a functional tool for all communication. But it no longer is very personal. We have become weary of using our business emails lest our employers snoop, and our email boxes are so littered with spam and work that we ignore optional ones, or just delete them without even reading them (also a pet peeve of mine, but I won’t go there today).

I get the impression that some people think that Facebook is optional. That it’s like Friendster or Myspace. And who has time for Myspace these days unless you are a garage band or a bored 18 year old? Let me gently suggest that Facebook is not like these other online services. You can do without Twitter. But you can’t do without Facebook. It has become the standard tool for personal communications, and now is even becoming a tool for business communication as well. If you’re not on Facebook, it’s like saying, “I don’t use email.” I respect your space and life, but I also like to be able to communicate easily and efficiently with the people in my life. There are 500 million of us on Facebook, so why do some folk opt out of it?

The four top excuses for not using Facebook are these:

1) “I don’t have time.” Ok, I know that I am single and don’t have a life, even though I work 12-14 hours per day and then visit with friends in the evenings. I am busy too. But there are these new devices in the 21st century called Smart Phones, or Blackberries, Iphones and Droids. They all allow you to check Facebook, post to Facebook and delete from Facebook while sitting in a waiting room, sitting on the toilet, or heaven forbid, sitting in traffic. Yea, even while sitting in church. You don’t have 5 or 10 minutes a day to communicate with people who want to communicate and share with you? And it’s so much more efficient in terms of time than using the phone or spending an hour over coffee. I’m not suggesting that face time is unimportant, but it is nice to keep up with friends all over the world that I can’t do lunch with today. Some people actually do care about you and want to communicate with you. Give them the chance. If nothing else, just check your messages and event invites, and maybe your birthday reminders, and sign off. I guarantee you that you will get less personal emails as a result, so it’s not like you are adding something to email but rather substituting it.

2) “I want to protect my privacy and don’t want people up in my business.” This excuse always causes me to ask the question, usually in my head, “So what are you trying to hide?” I am not asking you to post your whole life on Facebook. I just want you to have a profile that you check regularly so we can communicate with you in a more efficient way than a phone or text message. One of my political friends refuses to have a site because he is scared that people will tag him in pictures and post to his profile. I keep reminding him, “T, they are posting the pictures of you anyway. You just don’t know what they are posting because you don’t have a profile.”

There are plenty of online articles about Facebook privacy settings, or you can read the entries on the blog of yours truly. To adjust privacy settings, simply go to “account” on the top right corner of the Facebook page, “Edit friends” to create a list called “professional,” and then go to “Privacy Settings” and set the privacy accordingly. Or when you post a status message that you don’t want your professional group to see, simply click on the key lock beneath the status message and prevent that group from seeing your posting. It’s that easy.

3) “Just send me an email.” As more and more of us … 500 million of us .. use Facebook for personal communication and for event invitations, it would be great if you would join so that we all can use the same means of communication. I’m having a birthday party in a couple of weeks, and there is a friend that I would like to invite. But the invitation is going out to a considerable number of people in my friend circle, and he’s the only one that doesn’t have Facebook. I can send out a mass event invite to every person except him … and in my cantankerous old age, I refuse to send him a separate email — just out of principle. The rest of us are communicating by Facebook, so it’s time to join. It’s much easier for sharing birthdays, events and personal organization than email or other forms of communication. I suppose that my friend thinks he has a good life by not being on Facebook, but he’s going to miss out on a little bit of mine because he won’t join. Again, my point here is not to suggest that he has less of a life than me, or that he is ignorant — he just simply is missing out on a tool everyone else is using.

4) “I don’t want people I don’t like to find me, then I have to accept them as friends.” Actually, you don’t have to allow your ex or your boss to see your whole Facebook life. There is an “ignore” button. But even if you do accept them, just add them to a “restricted” friends list so that they see no more of your profile than your basic contact information. It really isn’t hard — it’s just a matter of controlling Facebook like you spend time organizing your address book. In fact, Facebook is becoming the permanent online address book that will even update your phone numbers and addresses if users allow it. But you always have control over who you add, and who can even see you.

There is no doubt that I’d rather join my friend Deana in Texas for lunch, or my friend Dorothy in New York City for dinner. But I can’t. What I can do is share my life, and keep up with theirs, through Facebook. Because of Facebook, they have become dear friends to me again though we are separated by years and by miles. Does it matter? You bet it does. They both have been incredible support systems during this past year of my life. And we all need support systems and people outside our immediate friendship circle.

Thanks for allowing me to share my pet peeve. Maybe it helped you to vent too. I think I’ll go post a picture of my friend right now on my Facebook profile — and I’ll give it the name: “T:The Dark Side”. He’ll never know until he runs for president in 2024, because he won’t join Facebook. Ok, I won’t. But it sure felt good to think about it. :)

Thank you for listening, and see you on Facebook (and if I don’t know you, you’re going into the “restricted” friend list ha). And please don’t delete me.

26 Responses to “Reflections on the Refusal to Use Facebook”
  1. Phillip says:

    As a Facebook user, I’d have to say you may need to relax a bit on this one. With respect to privacy, it isn’t as simple as you suggest, esp. with Facebook often changing the rules and/or appearance of the page. Those who aren’t so computer and internet savvy (admittedly, a shrinking group) may not find the online tips understandable or simple.

    The time issue is also a real concern for some. Really, who spends just 10 or 15 minutes a day on Facebook? To scroll through the posts, respond to those who send something to you or comment on your wall takes time, and some certainly get their feelings hurt if you don’t respond.

    Another reason Facebook can be problematic for some is that it becomes a substitute for real presence and relationship. Rather than talking to the friends and family in the room, the focus is on the screen. Rather than building close relationships, many publically emote to their 300+ “friends.” It may also be an exercise in arrogance to assume that people actually care about what we just ate or saw or thought (even moreso for Twitter!).

    I say all of this as one who uses and enjoys Facebook. But I don’t assume my use and enjoyment makes me more enlightened than those who choose otherwise.

  2. toddbouldin says:

    Phil, thank you for your comments. As a result, I modified my entry because your concerns about tone were right on target. I wrote this in an attempt to be somewhat humorous, but I can see how it could have been read otherwise. I must have woke up in a bad mood! ha I did adjust it to state more clearly what I intended — which is that I think it has become as basic as email or a phone. Some folks are still confusing it with something as trivial as Myspace or Friendster, and they are completely different.

    Do you remember back in the 90’s when you asked someone for an email address and they didn’t have one? It was frustrating. I feel the same about Facebook now — and I certainly respect the freedom of folks not to have it, but I also simply don’t understand why there is such a stubborn refusal about it.

    Good points though, and I that I cleaned up my language. :) Todd

  3. Chris says:

    Possibly the most arrogant, selfish article I’ve ever come across!

  4. toddbouldin says:

    Chris, thanks for reading. I encourage you to return to my 2nd paragraph. Perhaps you read it too seriously … but I do hope that you will consider the points I try to make which I hope are legitimate ones about the place of Facebook in our lives.

  5. Shhhh says:

    Secret Witnesses are prohibited (ya’ think?) from using “Facebook.” There are many, many people in business and around the world that do not desire or, for personal protection, to be found.

  6. Brendan says:

    As someone who has been active online for a decade and a half now I have to say that all of the reasons you attempted to refute are indeed GREAT reasons to not use FB. I had been on since it was in just 30 schools but recently deleted it.

    As an avid Internet explorer (pardon the pun) you start to notice patterns in social behavior on the web. Since AOL message boards the fickle online audience has chewed through a TON of social networking concepts and simply put, spit them all out. They eventually became either a desolate wasteland (I like to compare them to the old mall nobody goes to anymore) or a place for anyone with something to sell or show off to whore themselves. Or both (Myspace).

    The means of communication we have today are more than adequate without FB. If you need something like that to get into touch with all of your friends then you don’t have very many close friends. Also your assumption that everyone is walking around with the top-of-the-line communication technology is fairly ignorant. I assure you that, unfortunately, the vast majority of the population in this country and this world are not in a position to buy Luxuries like iPhones and Blackberry phones.

    I agree that people who think not using FB makes them superior are annoying. The truth is though, you will be seeing a lot more people with that attitude soon. With all of the other user-created web content appearing every day, FaceBook is becoming less and less relevant.

  7. toddbouldin says:

    Brendan, thanks for your comments, and I appreciate you reading.

    I couldn’t disagree more — as you probably imagine. I promise that Facebook provides me with no consulting fees for my defense of them. For two years, cynical friends of mine have been telling me that Facebook is going to go the way of Friendster or Myspace. With all due respect, I think they completely misunderstand Facebook and are very wrong about this. They are missing the fact that Facebook has become the new face of the Internet. It’s not simply just another program — it’s become the central launching pad for our whole exploration of the web, somewhat like Google in the last decade.

    Over 600 million people are on Facebook, or thereabouts. Because most every friend of mine is on it, I’m not going to delete my account or ignore it like I did my Myspace and Friendster accounts. Why? I might miss something. In fact, I know I would.

    I would miss the fact that my very good friend at church is posting his health updates from his hospital bed. Could I call him? Sure — but then 100 of us would have to call him. Instead, he can post updates to his account, and we can provide encouragement without interrupting his recovery (yes, I also went to see him). Today, he posted a picture of him at Easter service yesterday after weeks in the hospital, and we all rejoiced. I’m sorry, but I think that’s really meaningful, and it does not make him a shallow friend because I found out the info through Facebook rather than through a call.

    I’m now acquainted with people all over the world because of Facebook, and they are a meaningful part of my life. I’m not going away because they are not going away, and so we’re all tied to each other.

    If I felt inclined to be a hermit, then I suppose it wouldn’t matter to me. But I want to know when my friend’s birthday party is going to be. I want to know when someone dies that may live in another state or city. I want to care about things going on with my friends in Kenya, India or Egypt, and not just those things that concern my back yard.

    I will give you this point — I do live in Los Angeles, and I’m 43. I suppose one can argue that I’m somehow more plugged into social networking than others. But my dad is 73, lives in a rural town in Tennessee and checks his Facebook three times per day. Yes, to see what I’m doing. And I think that’s great, and nothing shallow about it.

    Arguing that Facebook is going away is like arguing in the 90s that email was just a passing fad because some people sent jokes and poems on it. It takes people a while to find a reasonable use for communications tools and innovations, but this one isn’t going away. I’m sorry to hear that you left! :)

    Take care. Todd

  8. Tina Merriweather says:

    I don’t use Facebook. If I didn’t need to communicate with friends this way 20 years ago, I dont need to do it now. Some trends are dangerous to follow. Furthermore it is so impersonal, a lot like texting and all of these sometimes unfeeling ways of communications. Be happy with your choice, try to let ius be happy with ours.

  9. Bugger Off says:

    If you don’t use social networking like me I am going to talk down to you and tell you how wrong you are. How dare a person inconvenience me by not joining the same site as me and refusing to communicate through it. They should go out of their way to join it just so I won’t be mildly bothered by having to communicate with them. Woe is me, email and phone is just so difficult. How did you survive before the internet? Seriously, how pompous can a person be? You’ve just validated for me my desire to never join Facebook. I don’t want to be part of something that jerks like you are apparently so fond of and frequent regularly. It doesn’t help that you’re constantly trying to impose yourself on me. If you want to use Facebook that’s fine but don’t harass someone just because they don’t. It only makes it worse that your pros for using Facebook are laughable. You like using it, we don’t. Both are fine, now shut the hell up about it and let us live life the way we want to and you can live how you want to.

  10. Sarah says:

    You are a self absorbed little shit, just like the majority of Facebook users all crying for attention. No one NEEDS Facebook at all, and the smart ones stay well away.

    • sue bircheal says:

      Hear hear!! I couldn’t have put it better myself!! Nothing more than a bunch of “me, me, me” merchants!!

  11. Paul says:

    After reading this article I’m even less likely to want to join Facebook. Just because I and several others refuse to join, that does not make us in any way inferior to you. If anything, I think it’s smarter to not join. There’s enough idiots posting trash across the internet as it is without having to see yet more of it on Facebook.

  12. Meg says:

    Mooooo! Facebook is a prime example of the herd mentality. I don’t have FB and don’t need it. When it too is a thing of the past I will be glad I never wasted my time. As for your party invitations, I don’t want one.

    Also, isn’t it ironic that in order to post a comment here that an email address is a required field? They don’t require FB. Kinda says it all.

  13. sue bircheal says:

    I don’t trust Facebook. Never have and never will. It hides a world of sinister information behind its ‘oh so innocent’ facade. The only reason I might join it in the future is when I decide to do a runner from the credit card companies who have hounded me for so long to use their cards and take advantage of their wonderful special offers. Well, now I have, and if they think they’re getting their money back after playing on my human weakness for so long, they can think again. If they’re evil enough to bombard my letterbox with offers, which are designed to make their fat pockets even fatter by destroying millions of people’s lives, then I’m going to use them and say ‘thank you very much’. A Facebook account will be opened under my real name months in advance, with information pertaining to my whereabouts and my plans of looking forward to emigrating. They will find every piece of information available about me on my specially opened Facebook account. What my plans were six months previously right up to where I’ll be at the time. I’ll have them and their collection agencies running around in circles following the leads I left on Facebook……needless to say, it will all be nonsense. That’s all Facebook is good for – providing information – which is exactly what it was designed to do: to keep tabs on everyone. Well, here’s one person they certainly won’t trace!! Best of luck to you all but please be careful of this site. It’s not as innocent as it looks.

  14. Tommy says:

    I have to disagree with this diatribe. Facebook has, for the most part, become a necessity for a large amount of people. It has become a socially fundamental stepping stone for many newcomers, and solidifies the social standing of how ever many hundreds of millions of users. I attribute Facebook as comparable to the Borg. One giant collective of individuals in a network of billions of thoughts or emotions, all piled together in a cesspool of social muck. It perpetuates the feeling of interaction via a computer screen, negating the need for actual interpersonal communication. You can only do so much with a “like me on facebook, get revealed” or whatever silly mindless drivel they come up with on facebook. Oh, using facebook helps that Mark Zuckerburg make his 1 percent mortgage payments on his 6 million dollar mansion. All paid for by suckers like you Todd, who log in enough to generate ad revenue for his growing company. How does it feel knowing redundancy does make a fraud rich these days?(Yes, Zuckerburg is a fraud and thief, google that exact phrase)

    You argue that facebook is a necessity. I fail to see the reasoning there. People argued back in the 1990s that email was a necessity, internet was essential, and instant messaging was the wave of the future. If you didn’t have an IM, you were prude! Yet the availability of technology was limited to what was practical at the time. Could you access such on the road? On top of a mountain? At school? Work? Only if you had a laptop or desktop that had internet in a room hooked up via LAN or modem. Yes, I get it. Technology has paved the way for us to access all that without the need for large bulky computers. One thing is certain, social standards are what set us in stone. Technology in the 90s started with the web, fax, email, im, and infancy of video chatting. The 2000s evolved into social networking. The 2010s place a large emphasis on mobile and wireless technology.

    See the trend here? Society adjusts with technology. What hundreds of millions could do without in the 90s and got by just fine, held true in the 2000s, and still holds true today. That’s the beauty of technology. It isn’t limited to one simple device/interface. You have a wide array of choices when utilizing the web and how to communicate.

    Facebook isn’t a necessity today like IM or email wasn’t a necessity in the 1990s. It’s a paradox of sorts. Back then I recall thinking email was the best thing since sliced bread! Now look at everyone. See the trend? Society growing with technology, learning to live with and without it, as they did in the 90’s. Don’t worry, perhaps another candid article about how innovative something is can be written in the 2020’s. I look forward to that fine article from you. Until then, I will continue to boycott facebook. I will email, send text messages to, share photos, and provide updates to people I know via my Android powered Google phone. In today’s world, I am living proof that facebook is redundant, and without merit. It is simply a gimmick. A farce. Something concocted to ruse millions upon millions into the not so hidden realm of simplicity. Unfortunately that simplicity turns into addiction, then obsession.

    Without facebook I can still: wake up, eat, go to work, converse with friends and family, go on lunch and have the shotty runs afterwards, get back to work and down a bottle of pink magic in a bottle (pepto), finish the day, go home and plop on the couch, surf the net, watch tv, do my homework, finish reports for work, converse with people some more, eat again, have a few stiff drinks, get ready for bed, wait; I forgot the shower, and viola! My day is complete. All that done without facebook? Wow, who would’ve known! If I am not informed of a death in my family, or something important with those so called friends, then are they really worth being in that lovely circle where we sit around a campfire and sing kum-byah? They are distant, and so are those 300 other friends you have who live half way around the world and post inane comments about the weather, what they had to eat, or what they thought of the newest Americas Got Talent winner…really who gives a flying ****? Then again, those who do give a flying bajeezus, they are the slowly evolving class of facebook addicts we are starting to see. You all know them. Annoying girlfriend/boyfriend who is always on facebook, every 10 minutes on the dot, on the hour!

    My apologies for the hour diatribe. I think you get the general picture now.

  15. Tommy says:

    What’s amazing is how so many people are addicted to it. I cant tell you how many people I’ve seen on Facebook via mobile device 24/7 at work, at home, anywhere for that matter. My favorite pet peeve is when they say “Oh I only get on for ten minutes to check up on it, oh I don’t get on very often…which is bs.” Those same people are in denial, denial of their addiction.

    Facebook today is the equivalent to email or instant messenger back in the 90s. People back then found ways to communicate if they chose not to use email and IM…did they suffer a lobotomy or die of withdrawal? No! They found other ways to communicate. That’s the way Facebook is today. I never intend to use it and I get by just fine without the inane posts and pointless drivel posted by so many.

    Obviously the original author, Todd I believe; has a strong opinion towards those who refuse to use Facebook. He is an employee/agent of Facebook, he is pro Zuckerberg and wants to see that punk kid become the richest in the world, or he simply has undue expectations on how everyone should handle technology as it advances. You want us to jump the Facebook bandwagon? Pay us to use Facebook, get rid of the ads, remove the pointless games and crap, and best of all; increase the privacy levels (don’t allow us to get tagged in photos, don’t allow our location to be recorded when we upload pics or posts, and don’t allow crazy ex’s to access friends on the Page to snoop around). Maybe then some of us may consider using Facebook. By then maybe ill get rid of my mobile phone which does email, pic sharing, texting, talking, video chat, and everything a desktop computer can do. Until then, rock on Zuckerberg, I won’t shed a tear for you when some crazed lunatic who got “facebusted” A.K.A got caught doing whatever and Facebook exposed them for whatever indiscretion it was. It’s happened before. Guarantee you a lunatic will blame Zuckerberg since he ‘stole…eerrr I mean started’ Facebook.

  16. Tommy says:

    Correction: I won’t be surprised when that lunatic blames Zuckerberg and goes after him personally. The way the world has been, nothing is surprising anymore.

  17. Nok says:

    Because of the thought you put into this article, I deleted my Facebook account. That you for freeing me!!!!

  18. Tommy says:

    Congratulations! You will realize how easy it really is without Facebook. Don’t mind the fallacious bs that almost everyone will try to feed you about why you should keep Facebook.

    They are all stuck in the social norm complex. You get chided for wearing socks with sandals because…it’s socially unacceptable. Same goes with Facebook, it too will die off and go the way of the dinosaurs.

    Congratulations again. If enough people had your sense and intelligence to realize that Facebook is nothing but an ad generated money making scheme for Zuckerberg, disguised as a social networking tool; then he would actually be forced to make an honest living in life. Save the fact he scammed and swindled not only his partners at the inception of Facebook, but he scams over one billion users out of their valuable time using this scam to help him buy those mansions.

  19. Andy Parfitz says:

    The best reason not to join Facebook is that you’re on it.

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