Salute to Spouses Blog

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To Facebook or not to Facebook, that is the question.

Anyone else struggling with the Facebook decision? To delete or not to delete, that is the question.

I’ve had a handful of friends announce that they planned to go dark, a kind of semi step into life without posts but without deleting their account completely. Others have disappeared from Facebook with nary a farewell post.

When the news broke recently that Cambridge Analytica was collecting, keeping and using our data against us, people were aghast. But did you ever notice the weird toy of the moment you searched on Amazon seemed to haunt you in the advertisements on Facebook? That the set of shelves you put in your cart on was suddenly advertised every single day on your Facebook feed. Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a secret you were giving yourself over to advertisers with every letter you typed.

Though I still question how, and why, my non-seafood searches led advertisers to believe I would be interested in fishing lures. That ad popped up far too often to make me comfortable.

And Facebook isn’t the only creepy internet stalker. According to a recent report by CNN there are 2,500 to 4,000 data brokers in the U.S. who buy and sell personal data a trade known as surveillance capitalism.

Think Facebook is collecting a lot of info? Your phone is the biggest tattle tale. According to the CNN report your cell phone can give up your place of business, home address and any place you spend time. Uber, CNN reported, used the free flowing information from cell phones to track its users’ one night stands.

Yep, forget worrying if your best friend will give up your secrets. Your phone will tell everything.

So, in this age of digital information vomiting our first instinct is to give up the site that seems most obviously turned against us, Facebook. But in reality, it doesn’t seem like walking away from one site is going to make much of a difference.

And few of us are willing to leave that cell phone at home, turn off the internet and go dark. Technology has spoiled us. It is easy. It is convenient and dang, who doesn’t like sharing a good meme?

Instead, I have accepted a challenge by a friend to go what you might call, grey. I’m not deleting Facebook. But I’m not checking it every day either. I’m not going to post my thoughts or reactions to recent events in the news and I’m not going to document my child’s every victory.

Instead, I’m going to be more selective about what I share and the photos I post. I’m going to make a point to call and email the friends I am on Facebook to keep up with in the first place. A 10-minute phone call is far more satisfying than a one-line response on a photo. 

Facebook has its advantages. We can spread important news quickly to the right people. When a distant family member is ill it is helpful to have those constant updates and photos. When there was a major bus accident near our hometown several weeks ago, we were able to mobilize volunteers and collect needed items in two hours flat.

I think Facebook has its time and place. But we don’t need to use it everywhere and all day long. Use Facebook as a tool, not a crutch. Turn it off, talk to your friends over coffee, with your phones left in your purse. Call your second cousin and ask her how the 5K was, don’t just like her photo.

And print that photo of your kid in the class play and put it on the refrigerator. It will bring you far more joy on a daily basis than logging in to a phone ever will.

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