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Everyone's quitting Facebook these days, and I want to quit, too, because I enjoy group activities.
But I can't. Because I've never used it.
My colleague Alex Sherman wrote this week that the mere fact that people can quit the social media platform means the company has a big problem, because their service isn't essential anymore.
I can certainly agree with that, and further it by saying that for many of us, it never was.
I'm not accustomed to sharing much in terms of a "personal story." It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. Maybe I don't understand why anyone might want to read my personal story because I've never been on Facebook? Or maybe I've never been on Facebook because I don't understand why anybody would want to know the mundane details of my life?
I do understand why some people use it. It is a great tool for small and local businesses, for staying connected with far-flung family members and friends, and getting support when there aren't enough services where you live.
My reticence goes back to 2001, well before Facebook even existed. I was working in my University's campus computer store, my hacker colleagues suggested that sharing information socially on the internet was incredibly insecure and just a way to scam you later on.
Later, when Facebook grew in popularity, they were adamant that the platform was going to take that personal information, turn it into a commodity and sell it to advertisers.
Several years later I finally got my first real technology job working alongside security professionals at JPMorgan Chase. "No real cybersecurity professionals use Facebook," several said. These guys definitely knew what they were talking about, and so, I continued staying off social media.
My social media life changed slightly when I joined the cybersecurity practice of a consulting firm called Promontory Financial Group in 2015. You know how consultants are. So I ramped up my use of LinkedIn to help network in my field.
In 2017, I joined The Wall Street Journal, and they asked me to get a Twitter account. My first. I had to have someone teach me how to use it. I had to learn what a DM is and why one would "retweet."( I still have a lot of questions about that last one.)
I'll admit I don't have a lot of friends. They're a small circle. When one of us takes a really great picture of our kids, we text the picture to one another.
I find out about events when somebody texts me about them. I've stuck to traditional outings, like going to the zoo, a movie or career-focused outings through work. My kids just inform me who they want to hang out with and when.
I don't know what the kids of my high school classmates look like, or even what they themselves look like now. I don't know any gossip from the small town where I grew up. I don't know what the spouses of most of my relatives look like (sorry guys, I'll see you and those charming strangers you're with in a few days).
I don't know whether I have any "haters" or why I might. I've never shared a photo of a meal I've eaten publicly.
Sometimes, as I read and write about the extensive efforts by Russian trolls to influence the 2016 election -- and by extension the long reach of social media -- I feel like I sat the whole thing out. I neither know nor particularly care about the political opinions of my extended family or most of my friends.
I believe that last part the most important. The best experience of not being on social platforms is that I am unable to judge anyone based on some opinion or life choice they may have made some time over the past two decades.
I'm also grateful that I've never had to worry about whether others are judging me. Not that they haven't, just that I wouldn't know.
Life is messy. It's great and horrible, and only getting better and worse. I don't think social media comes close to capturing these multi-dimensions.
Opinions and people change. Aside from the obvious security problems posed by these platforms (and I include the ones I do use, like Linkedin and Twitter), one of the worst byproducts has been the habit of pinning individuals to precisely what they do, say and believe in one discreet period of time.
In the end, the most satisfying thing is that whatever someone might think of what I've written here, I probably won't know about it. If anyone calls me a hypocrite, a luddite or otherwise, I'll probably never know. Unless they do it on LinkedIn, but then it would just be weird.
Truly, sometimes, ignorance is bliss. What's Farmville again?