I joined Facebook about three years ago.
I deleted my Facebook account earlier this week.
I decided I didn’t need it.
Even crazier, I deleted the News-Record’s Facebook page as well.
While these moves may seem counterintuitive for a community journalism professional, I thought I’d air my reasoning out here.
Until September 2016, I had resisted Facebook.
I assumed it was a waste of time and was nothing I was interested in.
I was forced into joining by a graduate school professor who decided he would host all of his online lectures that semester on Facebook Live.
The university offered a perfectly fine video conferencing tool— it was better, actually— but, this professor saw something media savvy in the newly offered Facebook Live application.
While I assumed this was the act of a young Mass Communication professor trying to build his tenure application by trying new things, the mandate required each class member to join Facebook in order to be a member of these sessions.
So I did.
I remember telling my wife then, “You hear about all these people complaining about time wasting on Facebook; I’ll probably become one of those people.”
I was right. I did.
While I think social media is a great tool, I’ve seen its terrible side too.
We witnessed obscene comments— via social media— earlier this year when a football coach wasn’t rehired.
They played out for days as comments on the News-Record’s original report of a school board meeting.
I eventually removed the original post. I figured we wouldn’t print such trash in the actual newspaper— why let it play out there?
Then I was criticized, by some, for trying to “control the narrative.”
I’ve seen seemingly grounded intelligent people share blatantly false news reports on Facebook as if they were the gospel and then not care about them being false when it was pointed out.
This is part of the problem with Facebook.
Facebook told the Washington Post last week, “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true.”
From day one, Facebook has maintained that it is a platform and not a publisher.
But they want the protections of a publisher— first amendment rights and all— without the responsibilities of a publisher.
As a publisher, I am subject to libel laws and standards of ethical practice.
The paramount of which is that what he publish must be true.
Yes, satire is protected; but satire is another story.
Facebook just admitted they don’t care if what they dispense is the truth.
Thereby, they are part of the problem.
They have also admitted their business model revolves about harvesting our personal data.
To Facebook, we are not an audience. We are the product they sell.
All of this legal and ethical stuff aside, me leaving Facebook was a personal decision.
I was just wasting too much time on it. I’d sit down to check my feed and look up and it would be an hour later.
And I wouldn’t be any better for the time I had spent.
I am not the type who can look at it for a minute and put it down for a day.
I am too nosey.
So, it’s time for me to re-center the energy of being nosey to more productive means— enterprising community newspaper reporting.
I was able to do that before Facebook came along.
I was also able to meet my wife, have four wonderful kids, graduate college, build a successful career, grow a great circle of friends and maintain a passion for performing live music— all without Facebook.
While you may miss pictures of what I’m having for dinner, I am still available for cup of coffee and conversation whenever you can stop by the office.
Businesses nowadays are concerned with “engagement.”
The trend is trying to find new ways to achieve “engagement” via social media.
To me, “engagement” is what we used to do before we got so busy monitoring our social media feeds.
It is a place we need to get back to.