Why Facebook is Not Worth It
Recently I found myself listening to someone who was trying to convince me that I should be doing more on Facebook. For reasons like attracting new customers and making more money. It was pretty sad listening to the spiel, but I do care about people and their opinions, even when they are wrong.
The person really wanted to know “why” I wasn’t spending more time on Facebook. They were spending all of their time and efforts there, and obviously didn’t understand someone who did not share the mindset.
So after thinking for a moment that, well golly, I’ve been on Facebook since 2008, have around 300 friends, eight different Facebook pages, and have joined around a hundred Facebook groups. I thought, like that’s not enough? You want me to spend even more time on Facebook. Lol.
So I responded that I’m actually busy weaning off of Facebook, and that I disagree with how they treat their users. You know, ethics and principles and all that stuff. Pretty important reasons to not want to get more involved but rather work on cutting all ties. Stuff like, because I have to live with myself, and loathe the idea of censorship, data mining, and basically everything that FB reportedly is up to.
And I sent that reply, what I thought was a solid reason for disliking Facebook (the company not the people, I love my friends and followers). But apparently it wasn’t enough to get the message through. For the person shot back saying that I needed to get over my “ego” and not worry so much about the ethics of it, and that no company is 100% ethical, they’re all power-hungry control freaks, yadda yadda yadda. Like you know, come one dude and get on this bandwagon it’s not a big deal.
At that point, I responded that it’s hard to ignore things like principles and integrity in pursuit of profit. And if it were just a matter of ethics or whatever, I would agree that Facebook might be worthwhile. But it isn’t. There are other factors as well. Like amount of work and time required vs. potential payoff. I did a simple cost vs reward analysis and the numbers just aren’t there. Put simply:
FB = too much work for too little reward.
Apparently that last quip was enough to finally get the point across, as the person simply responded with a smiley emoji. So the conversation ended with a smile, but I had a few more points to go.. unfortunately the person was no longer interested, maybe had gotten the point. Maybe not. But I think it’s important especially these days to understand clearly why Facebook is not worth it..
A few reasons why Facebook is not worth it
First as mentioned in the conversation, Facebook reportedly bans and censors users, sells their data, spies on them, tracks them, and basically manipulates just about everything that results in more $$$. But you already understand this, as do most thinking/moderately aware people these days. We’ve all read the reports that Facebook is an unethical giant corporate dinosaur up to no good. Whether or not that’s all true is up to you, my friend. I have no clues.
Second, also as mentioned, Facebook requires too much work for too little reward. Back when Facebook was first getting started, it was easy to get some good likes and hits from a well-phrased post. Then they started in with the Facebook advertising and things began to change. Then they went public with their stock offering and things have gone downhill pretty quickly from there. These days, you can post the most awesome stuff and maybe if you’re lucky get 50 likes on it. Or if you’re super popular maybe 1,000 or more. But the vast majority of users get almost nothing for all the hours of time spent on Facebook. A like here and there, maybe a comment. It’s just not worth it. Unless you’re willing to spend big $$$ (or commit huge amounts of time), the incentive is gone. It’s sad too because it was not always the case.
Third, you can do more outside of Facebook. Life is so much better running your own site. Working for yourself is like owning a home instead of renting. And that’s what Facebook is: renting space paid for by your time and efforts. All those cool photos and nifty memes you’re posting belong to Facebook now, and Facebook can use them to make as much money as they want (and you will get none of it). All the ideas and attention you’re giving to Facebook may be enjoyed by some of your “friends” and followers, but you could be getting much better results doing it your own way. You know, like growing up and moving into your own place, where you make the rules and reap all the rewards.
Fourth, Facebook is like kindergarten for people who don’t know how, or are too lazy to do it for themselves. So you’ve gotta have all sorts of inane rules that do nothing but restrict conversation, limit sharing, restrain ideas, and keep things locked down and “safe” from any unwanted opinions. Because a few newbies and weak-minded imbeciles on Facebook just can’t handle it, or at least that is how they are being treated. Like don’t think for yourself just do as you’re told type preschool mentality. It’s not all like that, there is plenty of great content on Facebook, but the overall vibe or mentality or whatever you want to call it, is just different now than it once was. Or maybe it’s me that’s changed. I really don’t know.
Fifth, and this sort of follows from Facebook being a playground for Internet toddlers, is the lack of control you have when posting, chatting, and doing whatever. It’s all so cut and paste, fill in the dots, color by numbers. Like when you’re a kid and can imagine a whole universe full of amazing things, and then for your birthday some weird relative gives you one of those toys where you put the shaped blocks in the matching shaped holes. That’s all you can do; fill in a few blanks and try to feel like you’re not wasting your life while staring at the same boring UI year after year.
Sixth, and this is because of the previous five points, the general mentality that you get while visiting Facebook is embarrassing. 90% of the posts that I see are either:
- Aimed at complete morons
- Demonstrate a serious lack of intelligence
- Utter rubbish
- All of the above
It’s getting harder and harder to find anything worthwhile on Facebook these days. Apart from a few specific groups and pages, it’s all just the same boring stuff that you can get on any other social platform or elsewhere online. I love my web-dev related groups and pages, but for the most part, like in general, everyone is bored and apathetic just posting the same old garbage day in and day out. All the interesting stuff (and not talking just politics here) is either banned, censored or manipulated. So what’s left is an intellectual wasteland devoid of meaning and inspiration.
Seventh, there are better alternatives literally everywhere. Even if you don’t want to do all the work of putting together your own website, there are many great social-media services outside of the Facebook world that are doing it better, way better. They are easy to find with a few searches like “facebook alternatives” or best facebook alternatives and so forth. You may need to try a few different search engines to find what you’re looking for. So you can keep your principles and dignity. You can avoid the worthless content. You can avoid the spying and selling of your data. You can do better. Better service, better people, better content, better incentive, better reward. Better everything.
Eighth thru infinity, all of the little things that suck. Too many specific examples and details to cover here. This post is sort of a general guide, truly books could be written about all the pathetic stuff that happens on Facebook. But admittedly it’s not all horrible. Some of my friends and family are there. I get to hear what Joe had for lunch. Or see pictures of what’s her name’s kids. But the other 90% mostly is horrible and not worth the effort.
And.. something I forgot to mention is greater happiness and more free time to do things that I enjoy. Since cutting back on my Facebook time, I have managed to get a LOT more done, and have been enjoying life more. Just the time away from the toxicity of Facebook is like a breath of fresh air and inspiration.
So why do I keep using it
So why I do continue using Facebook? Admittedly I’ve stopped using it for the most part. I still jump in every week or so to share some of my work, maybe like a few posts, and say what’s up to some friends. But for the most part I live my online life like Facebook doesn’t exist. Eventually, at some point, I’ll drop it altogether. But for now, it still serves a purpose, despite all the crap they’re shoveling.
I know I am in the minority with this, but it doesn’t stop me from saying it. More than likely all those millions of Facebook users know what they are doing and Facebook is the greatest and I’m just some old cranky dude who needs his meds. But I don’t think so. I think Facebook sucks for the reasons outlined above.
I would love to hear someone argue the case for spending more time on Facebook. Something other than make money would be great, as that’s basically what caused the whole mess to take a nosedive in the first place.
I can’t say I disagree with anything above. I have mostly abandoned Facebook, especially after my father stopped publishing daily comica drawn by him that were practically the only reason I still logged into Facebook more than once every few weeks, which has been my current rate. I go to the globe icon, with its two-digit white number on a small red square, barely anything is interesting, and that after I silenced many alerts that didn’t interest me at all. The page I maintain there hasn’t had any activity in almost two years. I got tired of investing time on them and having my content viewed by a small fraction of the 5k+ “likes” the page has. So, yeah, you’re right. :)
I dropped Facebook in 2008, never signed up for Twitter, and am only vaguely aware of what instagram is.
I do use a social network called hubzilla, which is de-centralized and (my node) runs on my own server. It is fun, but I am certainly not addicted or need it in any way.
You’re not in the minority, I ditched Facebook some 12 months ago for pretty much the same reasons you’ve mentioned. The head spinner for me was keeping in touch with family and friends until I realised that the next generation (my children) are highly likely not to have a Facebook account and it struck me that… hey, if I’m going to get in touch with people, I know where they are or they need to get in touch with me, they know where I am, I don’t need Facebook. As for the data mining and censorship I don’t want to be apart of something that is practically destroying democracy around the world as we know it!!
Thanks Jeff, I will share your thoughts with as many people as possible (of course not on Facebook).
The most annoying thing is to tell this my customers all over again. They still think they can jump on that train, which has his final stop years ago.
Simply because it’s more popular than Twitter in my country,Dear Jeff! I’m Bulgarian.
[ Editor’s note: an off-topic question removed from comment and responded to via email ]
Best regards from Bulgaria too!
Another thing you MAY NOT be aware of:
FaceBook AND Google were financially “helped” with seed money from government (you can probably guess which agency(ies)?). This being one of the largest reasons why FaceBook and Google became such “overnight successes” in the market. Edward Snowden said it best: “They are nothing more than huge commercial data-collection organizations, posing as ‘free social-networking sites’!” – They profit from the huge (involuntary and automatic) collection of all kinds of personal data, for sale to the highest bidders (like government agencies, etc).
Another point (you already well-made):
Is the quality of people you are more likely going to find in such a “landscape”, tending towards petty and even sociopathic tendencies. It is the environment which draws more of the same quality of people, as to those who run the organization. The political/ideological censorship that has become entrenched within, is what draws more of the attention-needy – and chases off the truly thoughtful and thought-provoking minds. Basically, FaceBook, et al, has become a void of an intellectual wasteland!
If you care to see some alternatives to FaceBook, Twitter, etc – I have set up accounts on those alternative platforms in which to promote my on-line business and discussions. (These are far more independent-minded and free-speech friendly forums I can live with.)
FaceBook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, et al – are gearing more towards the bigger-paying financial giants. They DO NOT support small-businesses anymore, and they are very anti-competitive and anti-free-market. Their business models in practice alone, proves this.
I even have a few qualms with LinkedIn for nearly similar reasons. Which is a shame, because LinkedIn was supposed to be geared more towards productive, business-like discussions and content, where one could effectively post his/her resume for career prospects. – I am unsure how much longer I will be keeping a presence there too.
I hope you are able to find some time to check out the neat alternatives. I’ve found good-quality posts, content, and some decent conversation on several of those.
– Jim S.
Dude: Facebook not worth it? Yes why not bury your head in the sand. Either embrace the world or get off it.
A compelling argument to say the least. Thanks so much for chiming in with …that.
I think you are spot on!
But even if Facebook were an ethical and user-centric company, it would most likely still be not worthwhile.
It seems that whenever a platform becomes too popular it’s incredibly hard to match, in a meaningful way, the insatiable demand for attention with the finite supply users can provide.
Interestingly Instagram seems to strike a better balance between good and paid content.
I agree with you with all this. This all leaves a void in that I was hoping you were going to say how you can build your business without them?
Your article title cannot be more apt.
Time spent on FB is by and large time not well spent. To me it’s not worth it to spend more than 10 minutes a week on FB (on slow internet connection); and I don’t.
Thanks for the feedback, Kofi.
10 minutes a week is commendable, I’m probably at around 10 minutes a day or so, cutting back more each day. Eventually, when the time is right, I’ll be dropping FB completely.
Just discovered your site and this little nugget of an article is a great reason why I will be back! I dropped FB a while ago and have never looked back.
I think it’s crazy the amount of personal information most of us are willing to give to corporations for free and then we get all bent out of shape when there is some kind of data breach. FB collects so much of your data and the more time you spend, the more data they collect. It’s crazy.
Anyway, thanks for a great site!
I exited it after short span of time as realised it was not worth. Sheer waste of time and displayed only rosy part of life. People competing against each other to show how good their life is by putting photo of foreign trip, fake love for their parents on anniversary how much do they love and fake empathy for post ranting about what they feel and ending with “Do you Agree”. It is a sh*t where people are just faking and I am not blaming them as there is inherent pressure to show how good you are due to visibility to entire world. I would better spend my time with nature and certainly enjoy my every successful milestone with limited set of family and friends.
Also I don’t want to be product for some company who is monetising me without any benefits.
Though I own shares of FB as I know there are morons who will be still glued to facebook and this will help to get the returns by owing stock (though it is down by 25% currently :))