I am not a fan of Facebook. I resisted setting up an account for a long time, despite the number of email invites that kept popping up in my inbox. However, I eventually caved in, and then wondered why I had. I sent a Facebook message to Kenny D asking him what it was all about. He didn’t seem to know either. I then spent the next few months becoming people’s friends, until I had amassed, ooh, about 14 friends in all. But having plenty of other ways to waste time of an evening, I never found myself actually logged on to the site unless I had a ‘friend request waiting’ or some such. Whenever I did so, I would discover that several of my friends had headbutted me, sent me a drink, or turned into pirates.
I realise that this is all going to sound a little priggish, but frankly I couldn’t be bothered with it all. I can understand why people with a lot of spare time on their hands (and a lot more friends than me) might find it entertaining and even possibly useful. It is, no doubt, a great way to keep up with old friends. Provided that your old friends are in fact, not really that old, and understand the concept of social networking websites.
But something old-fashioned in me somehow prefers finding out how people are face to face, or at least via email, rather than checking to see if they’ve updated their status. Email looks positively personal and intimate beside Facebook. And how honest can you really be, given that (depending on your privacy settings, no doubt) any Tom, Dick or Tara in the world can read your thoughts, and view your photos? This, of course, is also a weakness of blogs.
I eventually got fed up, not to say a little worried at the prospect of identity fraud. It’s one thing the government donating your private details to criminals in a user-friendly easy-to-read CD format, but it’s an even more astonishingly stupid thing to publish your own details online for the world to see.
So I decided to extinguish the flickering flame that was my presence on Facebook, and attempted to delete my account. The faceless Facebook hierarchy were not amused at this, and demanded that I explain myself by checking the appropriate box beside one of a list of ‘reasons for leaving’ that they’d prepared earlier. I tried ‘Worried about security’ whereupon a smug and authoritative message popped up, explaining that I could change my privacy settings if I was really worried about it. Slightly taken aback, I selected ‘Don’t find it useful’ to find another message appearing, pointing out how I might find Facebook more useful if I had made a bit of an effort.
Eventually they let me go, with the slightly disturbing parting shot – “You can reactivate your account any time you like by logging in again with your username and password.”
Excuse me? If my existing username and password still get me in to the system, how deleted exactly is my account? It seems that Facebook is a little like Hotel California… You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave…