Listen: I know I should get rid of Facebook. Without digging too deep, here are some of the most obvious reasons:
- They’re selling my info right and left to anyone who wants it.
- I’m supporting a company that takes no responsibility for the massive effects its platform has on the country and the world.
- It eats up time I really need to spend elsewhere.
- My friends who brag about exercising and healthy eating are making me feel terrible about myself.
- It’s a shitshow.
It’s really the first two that have got me. I was slow to join Facebook, and horrified by the privacy issues even back in the day. When I had to get an account for work reasons—I needed to check in on social campaigns and try out all the marketing initiatives my company was doing—I used a fake name, then kept it for years. Facebook wasn’t going to get the real me like all those other people who just handed over their identities, friend lists, and demographic information.
Cut to present day: My real name is on there, I’m connected to people from almost every phase of my life, and I’m on it every day, along with Twitter and Instagram. Dammit! How did that happen?
It happened because I realized what a useful tool it was. I’m not on there talking politics, I don’t use it as a news source, and I don’t comment on people’s posts to prove that my opinion is better than theirs. If someone posts that they love something, I don’t chime in to tell them I hate it. There are lots of things I don’t do on Facebook out of consideration for others as well as my own sanity… but here’s what I DO do:
Learn About Neighborhood and School Stuff
There are multiple parents’ groups specific to my neighborhood and our school system, and this is where I can easily get the scoop on everything from recycling pick-up to school info that slipped through the cracks. I find plumbers, dentists, electricians, experts on whatever I need, and it’s a great place to buy used items (like cell phones) as well as get rid of stuff you don’t need… there’s almost always someone who’s happy to come pick it up.
I’m a freelancer, and I’ve gotten some good gigs through the groups I’ve joined. And even more than that, I’ve been able to get useful advice from other people in my field. I’m in a whole bunch of women’s groups for what I do professionally–I’m a writer, copy editor, and TV producer–and they’re all full of great advice, anecdotal and otherwise. They’ve guided me through everything from negotiation tactics to the specifics of certain tasks. They’re also tremendously encouraging – everyone has a story of the rejection that turned into something positive or the hard work that finally paid off.
Family and Friends, Far and Wide
This is the more predictable one, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. I have family spread across three countries, friends all over the place, and Facebook allows us to have those casual conversations about day-to-day nonsense that we all miss so much now that we’re all still under some level of quarantine.
Not only do I post my own work for people to read, and my website when I’m looking for work, but I’m a senior editor at a Star Trek site and we use it to promote our articles and podcasts. Trust me, it makes a difference.
But Should I Still be There?
I admit that it’s a dark spot on my conscience. I know that I’m supporting them as much as (if not more so than) they’re supporting me. I wrestle with this daily, but in the meantime, I really value the groups I’m in, the advice I get, and the ability to reach a large audience with little effort.
But I’m a hypocrite who can’t give it up, and I have to live with that until I find something better.
A transplanted Canadian living in New York, Laurie Ulster is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She writes about pop culture, lifestyle topics, feminism, food, and other topics for print, digital, podcasts, and TV.