on leaving facebook

There are, as you can imagine, a number of posts that list reasons to leave Facebook: there’s the Men’s Journal reasons, the New Year’s resolution list, and Douglas Rushkoff’s reasons:

Facebook does not exist to help us make friends, but to turn our network of connections, brand preferences and activities over time – our “social graphs” – into money for others.

… remember that Facebook is not the Internet. It’s just one website, and it comes with a price.

I’d been wavering for some time – to do with issues of privacy, and echo-chambers, and clicktivism, and also the sense that I was involved in a false game of how we want our lives to be represented – and had started to only use the site on the weekend as a kind of pastime.

The final straw was when I read some writing by Dmytri Kleiner in a book called Ours to Hack and Own:

It’s tempting to look at sites like Facebook and YouTube and conclude that they earn their profits by exploiting their own users, who generate all the content that makes the sites popular. However, this is not the case, because the media is not sold and therefore makes no profit and captures no value.

What is sold is advertisement, thus the paying customers are the advertisers, and what is being sold are the users themselves, not their content. This means that the source of value that becomes Facebook’s profits is the work done by the workers in the global fields and factories, who are producing the commodities being advertised to Facebook’s audience.

The profits of the media monopolies are formed after surplus value has already been extracted. Their users are not exploited, but subjected, captured as audience, and instrumentalized to extract surplus profits from other sectors of the ownership class.

– Dmytri Kleiner 2016. “Counterantidisintermediation.” In Ours to Hack and Own.

I’m not a luddite: I love computers, and code, and the web, and what they make possible. I want to participate and be involved. But I also want to do that (to the best of my ability and understanding) on terms that I feel comfortable with. And so I deleted my Facebook account, waited the necessary two weeks, and then it was all gone.

It feels good. I’ve had no sense of FOMO.

The other thing that happened is that I didn’t say goodbye to my Facebook friends (the ones I knew, the ones I didn’t know) and I feel a bit bad about that. Perhaps if any of you happen to be reading this you can post it as a way of letting people know.

Or not.


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