A Necessary Evil

Facebook went down for 5 hours yesterday. I'll admit to being one of the people dancing on its grave and hoping it never came back up. I ran across this article, and while I'm not in the same position as him, I do see his point. When you can't go out and you can't call people, social media is your connection to the world. Once you're entrenched into one platform and above a certain age, you'll find it difficult or impossible to move somewhere else. No one I know of that is on social media has that problem yet, but it's coming.

You may want to fight me over this but I'll say it anyway: Facebook is evil, but right now it's a necessary evil. We do have better options out there and I encourage people to find them and at least visit, but if Grandma is on Facebook, your options to stay in touch with her during the pandemic might just be Facebook or calling her. It's going to take a while to disconnect their lives from that monster and we'll just have to accept that some people don't have the ability to leave it for one reason or another.

I know that sounds really bad, but your family might have wildly differing levels of technical ability. For example, my mom can operate a smart phone for the most part, she knows how to use Facebook, and after showing her where the different bits she uses are, she even uses Linux! On the other hand, my dad never learned to check his voicemail or text. Seeing as he had a flip phone, I completely understand not bothering with the latter. I think he knew more about the internet than he let on, though.

Some people have Facebook as their only source of information for certain things. That sounds worse than I intended, so allow me to clarify. The county government puts more of their stuff on there than their own web site. The church has been streaming their services on Facebook and anyone not on there has to have a link emailed to them later to watch a recording. The fire department only had the schedule of events on Facebook so I had no idea when Santa was coming through! This is another barrier to migration that must be dealt with to break its stranglehold on its users.

(Given all the right wing stuff that comes out of Facebook's servers and Ted Nugent's mouth, the term "stranglehold" is sadly appropriate.)

Many people, like my mom, have it as their only source of communicating with extended family. She can call a lot of people but when it comes to nieces, nephews, cousins, etc, she doesn't have their numbers and would only talk to them every once in a while. If she left, she'd either be in the dark or get announcements from the relative nearest them when she calls them. That's really the only reason she stays on there.

Hopefully one day we won't need to have this discussion, but if history is any guide, we'll be repeating it with a different corporate owned social network instead. I'd love for us to break this cycle once and for all, but I don't it happening without s deliberate choice as to where each of our next social media migations take us.

Day 60 of #100DaysTo Offload

Tags: Facebook Technology