As you may have already heard, Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary this week. In a decade of existence, the social networking site has become a multi-billion dollar behemoth that has fundamentally changed the way people communicate with each other. Once an online hub for college students, it has since grown into a service over a billion people use. Even your grandmother uses it.
I, on the other hand, have yet to join. At this point, I’m pretty sure I never will.
This isn’t a matter of having renounced it, either. I seriously have never been a member of Facebook. I’ll check a band’s profile page occasionally for concert information, but that’s it.
People always ask me why, so I’ll do my best to explain why I decided to forgo the Facebook revolution.
Back in 2005, I was a Concordia student spending a semester abroad, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, of all places. At that point, Facebook was only being offered to university students. All of my dorm-mates where going wild for it, but I was still quite leery about putting any personal information online for everyone to see. The thought of reading other people’s TMI soliloquies or observing changes in their relationship statuses also seemed highly voyeuristic to me, and it still does. To this day, it bothers me greatly when people bring up personal issues discussed on Facebook as if it’s common knowledge.
The purpose of my sojourn in America was to meet new people and learn to snowboard, and being online poking people or being poked seemed counterintuitive to those goals. Upon my return to Montreal, Facebook was catching fire here, but I was so used to resisting its allure, it had no effect on me to see friends adopting the platform.
I had no social media presence at all until five years ago, when my then editor at the Mirror prodded me into joining Twitter. It’s become an essential tool for work, and I’ve even met some new friends on there. Social media restricted to 140 character messages suits me better, I’ve found. There are also people in my life (exes and so forth) that I simply don’t want to see or hear from anymore. I feel like with Facebook’s interconnected web of friendships, every so often I might be subjected to news from people I’d prefer to move on from, although I might be wrong in my assumptions. I may have lost a few fair-weather acquaintances along the way who were too lazy to correspond by email, but I’m okay with that. If someone wants to say hi, I’m not hard to find.
This isn’t an attempt to proselytize or subject you to my tin-hatted paranoia about online spying. If you like Facebook and use it daily, that’s fine by me. But there are a few of us out there who aren’t a part of it, and I can assure you that we’re living life to the fullest as well. ■
Follow Erik on Twitter @eleijon