Why I’m not on Facebook

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What’s the number one question I get asked as I go about my day?

Is it “What’s with the lip ring?” No. Nobody every asks about the jewelry in my face, oddly enough. (This makes me happy.)

Is it “Where’d you get that sweet car?” I wish. I could talk about Karl all day.

Or “When’s your book coming out?” Um . . . no. Apparently I suck at self-promotion. So far only my barista has asked this question. (I love you, Becky!)

No, it’s “Are you on Facebook?”

Friends, family, total strangers, cashiers signing me up for discount cards. Everyone wants to know. And when I tell them I’m not I get the same reaction I get when I ask people not to tell me any Walking Dead spoilers because I have to wait for it come out on DVD because I don’t have cable or Netflix: an uncomfortably long silence and a screwed-up face. Sometimes, if I have been whanging away on my language studies, I actually have to self-check: “Wait, did I just say that in German?”

(A note to the easily distracted: I do not have cable or Netflix because I am both acutely cheap and amazingly patient.)

(But seriously: no spoilers, K? Unless something happens to Glenn – ‘cuz that’s my deal breaker. Anything happens to Glenn and I’m done.)

But back to Facebook. I have never had a Facebook account. I missed out on MySpace by dint of not having a reliable internet connection until about 2006, at which point MySpace had already gone the way of AOL. I remember the first time I heard about Facebook (on NPR on my way to work) and I also remember the next seven or eight times I heard that Facebook had violated its own privacy agreements (also on NPR on my way to or from work).

“Oh, so it’s the privacy issue.” No, not really. I don’t go around giving people my passwords or lending them my ATM card, but neither do I own a shredder. I’m very moderate about my data privacy. Perhaps a little lax, even.

Not being on Facebook has its drawbacks. I have a large number of real-life friends who now seem to exist solely on Facebook. Some of them I text from time to time. Some of them I have lost track of entirely – their emails bounce, their mobile numbers have changed, their holidays cards come back with those depressing “NOT AT THIS ADDRESS” stickers. (Heidi, if you’re out there we lost your number when Matt’s cell phone was crushed under a load of firewood logs last summer. We miss you!)

And it has it’s advantages. Like the majority of publicly-schooled Americans I hated high school. I hated it almost as much as I hated middle school. I had ten friends in high school out of a graduating class of over 400. (OK, nine friends if you insist on subtracting the two who were teachers.) Of those I still speak to one regularly. One is abroad but we follow each other’s blogs. Four I kind of miss and have lost track of but don’t have the desire to scale the Himalayan emotional baggage separating us. One is dead. One I wouldn’t talk to if she was on my front porch right now, knocking furiously, although I would give her $20 and a sandwich before I told her to bog off (just because I can’t stand her doesn’t mean I hate her).

So I was pretty stoked to find out that Facebook was the one and only tool available to the organizers of my ten year high school reunion. (Doubtless, the same born-rich Gleneagle kids who tried to exclude the poor kids from attending the prom by moving it from our home town to the fucking Space Needle and charging $100 a ticket on top of admittance fees, clothing, and transportation.) Having never so much as logged into Facebook (and having, at that point, legally changed my name twice) I was invisible to the organizers. I heard about it from one of those two friends I still talk to, who also thought it was hilarious that they would never find me.

If I only still hang out with two people I went to high school with, kinda-sort-but-not-really miss a few more, and wouldn’t give the time of day to pretty much 100% of the remainder then why would I pay $100 ($50 for me and $50 for my spouse) to hang out with those ass-hats at a state park I could visit on any other day of the year for free with only the guests of my choosing?

“Oh, so it’s, like, a woman-of-mystery thing? It’s to be different?” Not really, no. There’s nothing mysterious about me (excepting all that name-changing). I’m not looking for a mysterious persona. I’m going for more of an eccentric thing, and there are plenty of eccentrics on Facebook. Eccentricity is more about wardrobe and vocabulary these days than it is about clubs and politics. My loud thrift store wardrobe and polysyllabic linguistic perambulations (punctuated liberally with good, solid four-letter words) are all the eccentric clout I need.

“So, what is it, then?” Can I reply with “Meh?”

I still don’t see the use. If I want people in general to know what I’m up to I have this blog for long form and Twitter for short form. If I want a specific person to know what I’m up to I have e-mail and a cell phone. If I had Facebook I would still have all these things, too, so why add another tool?

(Allow me to forestall the angry comments by spelling this out carefully: I have nothing against Facebook. I just don’t care either way.)

So there you have it, world. My answer at last. In print: “Meh.” In person: *shrug.* Pretty anticlimactic, right? That’s why I usually change the subject.

— Amanda

The bird is the word

Well, Ryan.  You finally got your wish.  I’m on Twitter at last. The content should be pretty good for the first few weeks because I’ve been saving up pithy little one-liners, but after that we’ll just have to take our chances.

I’m @SterlingFink. Are any of you on Twitter?  Tweet at me!

— Amanda