My two biggest reasons for quitting Facebook were deeply personal. This one is more of a social commentary, but also personal because I am a parent. Here are the questions I have to ask myself: Could Facebook cause long-term harm to our social habits? Does the good outweigh the bad?
The jury is still out on this one, but it does seem clear that the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook are changing our social structure in ways we don’t fully understand. Our young kids today will feel these effects more than anyone else before them.
Reason #3: I am accountable to my children for my social media choices.
Since my 8-year old has already started campaigning for a cell phone – though we’ve assured her she’ll probably be the last among her friends to get one — I figure the Facebook conversation isn’t too far behind. And I don’t quite know what to tell her.
Facebook is fast-becoming the single most determining factor in a person’s future, especially for teens. That’s because 80% of colleges use Facebook as part of their admissions process. Surveys also show that a huge percentage of employers check out a potential Facebook profile before deciding who to hire. There’s even a company called Social Intelligence Corporation, a “start-up that scours social media and Internet sites for dirt on employees and job applicants.” While this company was under federal investigation for potential rights violation, the government recently dropped the case, signaling a green light for the practice of using social media sites to do background checks and other private research.
As a grown adult, I don’t even know how to effectively handle the power that is Facebook (see my first two posts in this series if you have any question about that). Fortunately, my biggest life decisions are behind me. I already went to college, made a career choice, chose a marriage partner, and decided how much I will compromise for career/status/money. So if I tell my kids that Facebook is fine as long as they handle it wisely, then I really don’t know what I’m talking about. What is wise, in this current era? I’m not sure at the moment.
Obviously inappropriate pics are out of the question. But managing your profile image (and controlling your friend list) to become more attractive for potential mates, colleges, and employers? Judging potential friends on the basis of what they “add” or “take away from” the desired image? That would be technically smart, probably. But not the Christian thing to do. Not the way I want to raise my children, or the qualities I want to foster within myself.
However I certainly can’t tell them why they shouldn’t be on Facebook, if I am active on Facebook. That’s like saying “Son, don’t ever drink beer. Now hand me another cold one.” I have to answer to my kids about social media in one way or another.
And that’s my third (and last) reason for dropping out of Facebook.
Maybe someday I’ll go back, with more wisdom and intentionality. Facebook says I can reactivate my old account at any time, “and start connecting.” Today, though, I’m connecting much better without it.
(Make sure to check out my new page: Quitting Facebook).