Why I’m not quitting Facebook

Immediately following my latest rantings about Facebook, this seems like an appropriate time to answer a question I get asked a lot:

“If you don’t like it, why don’t you quit?”

This morning I read Chris Applegate’s post about quitting Facebook. As much as I sympathise, I’m not quitting. Here’s why.

It’s ‘normal

I don’t want to be absent from Facebook any more than I want to be without a telephone. Quitting Facebook is – to me – opting out of a societal norm. There are serious limits to the practicality of this.

For all my nerdy ramblings about privacy and such, I want be normal as much as anyone. If the vast majority of society are on Facebook, then that’s where you’ll find me. If that makes me a sheep then fine – throw one at me.

In terms of the day-to-day, I don’t want to miss out on things such as event invitations, or holiday photos. When meeting new people, saying “look me up Facebook” has become almost as common as swapping phone numbers.

Internet ID

You can’t get a job without a fixed address and these days it’s almost impossible to sign up for anything without an email address. What’s next? What if not having a Facebook account was suspicious? If Facebook ends up becoming some sort of Internet ID (I’m not joking) then being absent could be problematic.

Facebook seems to be very keen on your real identity to the point that it’s against their terms of use to have multiple, personal accounts. Eric Schmidt has referred to Google+ as an identity service, but Facebook are many miles ahead.

You might be against such a concept, but if 800 million other people don’t agree with you, then how feasible is your opting out going to be?

Move to Google+?

The only purpose of Google+ at the moment appears to be keeping Facebook on their toes. We don’t really know what role Google+ will play in future – whether it will house Facebook refugees, or whether the two will coexist with differing, even complementary roles. All I know now is that it’s not a satisfactory alternative if I were to quit Facebook.

I’m in control

At least I assume I am.

If I don’t want to upload my baby photos to my Timeline, I don’t have to (and I won’t). Of course I don’t want to see ex girlfriends in my Timeline, but I won’t; I’ve already removed them. I don’t have to read the Guardian inside a frictionless Facebook app so everyone can see what I’m looking at, I’ll just go to their site (for now).

While I still have these choices I’m relatively happy and will simply manage my account as I see fit. If these actions somehow become inescapable, then perhaps I will think again, but for now I see no immediate reason to delete my account.