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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:17 PM

People Without Facebook Accounts Are Deemed 'Suspicious' -- Forbes [View all]

Beware, Tech Abandoners. People Without Facebook Accounts Are 'Suspicious'

-- Kashmir Hill, Forbes

The sudden and dramatic advent of social-media-enabling technologies into our lives seems to be causing some mid-digital-life crises. Not only has Silicon Valley developed a guilty conscience about addicting us to screens, we the users are starting to question how technology is changing us: making us fat, making us unhealthy, making us depressed, making us lonely... Thatís leading some users to consider abandoning the whole enterprise. My colleague Haydn Shaughnessy gave up his smartphone last year. Now, inspired by the example of former Facebooker Katherine Losse, heís considering giving up Facebook.

I am writing with some words of caution. I used to say that "if you're not on Facebook, it's possible you don't actually exist." I think itís time to update that, courtesy of Slashdot: Facebook abstainers will be labeled suspicious.

Slashdot flagged a German news story in which an expert noted that mass murderers Anders Breivik and James Holmes both lacked much of a social media presence, leading to the conclusion, in Slashdotís phrasing, that ďnot having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer.Ē

Iím seeing the suggestion more and more often that a missing Facebook account raises red flags. After a woman found out via Facebook that a man whoíd Ďpokedí her in real life had a long term girlfriend, she turned to digital manners advice givers Farhad Manjoo and Emily Yoffe of Slate to ask whether she should tell the girlfriend. They said she should and then went on a digression about transparent romances in the age of Facebook:

Farhad: I think weíve mentioned it before that if you are going out with someone and they donít have a Facebook profile, you should be suspicious.

Emily: Wait a minute. You may have mentioned that.

Farhad: I think Iíve recommended that. You know why, though? Imagine if this guy didnít have a Facebook profile. Thatís why. You should be suspicious of someone who is not making your relationship known publicly on a site like Facebook. Iím going to go on record with that.

Emily: Iím fine with people not having a Facebook page if they donít want one. However, I think youíre right. If youíre of a certain age and you meet someone who you are about to go to bed with, and that person doesnít have a Facebook page, you may be getting a false name. It could be some kind of red flag.

via Transcript : Facebook stalker - "Should I tell a cheating guy's girlfriend that we hooked up?" -- Slate Magazine

The idea that a Facebook resister is a potential mass murderer, flaky employee, and/or person who struggles with fidelity is obviously flawed. There are people who choose not to be Facebookers for myriad non-psychopathic reasons: because they find it too addictive, or because they hold their privacy dear, or because they donít actually want to know what their old high school buddies are up to.

Anecdotally, Iíve heard both job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesnít have a Facebook account. Does it mean they deactivated it because it was full of red flags? Are they hiding something?

But it does seem that increasingly, itís expected that everyone is on Facebook in some capacity, and that a negative assumption is starting to arise about those who reject the Big Blue Giantís siren call. Continuing to navigate life without having this digital form of identification may be like trying to get into a bar without a driverís license.

ďYou canít get away from it. Itís everything. Itís everywhere,Ē she told the Washington Post. ďThe moment weíre in now is about trying to deal with all this technology rather than rejecting it, because obviously we canít reject it entirely.Ē Well, you can, but it might lead to your being rejected down the line too. **Updated to include some reasons why a person might choose not to be on Facebook, beyond being too busy planning commando attacks.

* Craigslist Ad: 'You're Only Real If You Have A Facebook Account'

* Another update: Haydn responds (and critiques)!

* A follow-up story: You Don't Need A Facebook Account To Be Considered 'Normal' (But It Helps)

* Also, check out the replies...


Milx writes:

Itís very ďpopularĒ nowadays to hate Facebook among the counterculture, counterculture but just because your friends are useless on Facebook doesnít mean that Facebook is not a big part of peoplesí lives in this day and age, especially among the younger crowd that uses this networking.

-If you want to ask someone out, you can know immediately if theyíre already with someone or available using Facebook.

-Many people donít have time to keep up with many people at once, or have multiple social circles that are all completely disconnected. For example, Iíve moved 20+ times in my life, so I have social circles from each of these places I lived and I donít have time to call each and every one of these people individually to make sure we still have a relationship. However, a relationship is maintained by comments on statuses and by being aware of whatís going on in the othersí life.

-Facebook has become an incredibly easy way to plan events. Free to invite, can easily get the information out about an event you would like people to go to, and instant so you can know whoís coming to your party or other event immediately. It can be used to contact hundreds of people at once. One of my friends just made a status a few days ago about having an extra ticket to a concert, and wanting to go with someone. Without Facebook, she would have had to contact each person she was willing to go with, see if they enjoyed the band, was free, and wanted to hang out. Instead she opened the opportunity to reconnect with old friends that she hadnít talked to in a while...

Maybe youíre just tooÖold for Facebook, honestly. This is coming from the point of view of a 19 year old college student at a top 20 university, (and) I recognize that within my age group Facebook is nearly essential to socializing. I do know a few people that donít use Facebook. I also know that I would like to contact them, but considering I didnít assume they donít use Facebook when I met them I donít have their phone numbers and because they reject Facebook I have no way to contact them. People I would like to see I end up never seeing because they donít use Facebook. I also end up having to recount my entire life every time I see someone who doesnít use it, because they donít see status updates or changes...

Keep in mind that Facebook is only as good as your friends. If you have crappy friends that only post useless things, then you would have a bad Facebook experience. If you have higher quality friends who use Facebook as a social networking tool, then your experience is far improved and it becomes more essential to your life.

Norman Jeter replies:

To refer to facebook as an ďessentialĒ part of Life is really kind of sad. Yes, it is a large part of many peopleís lives. Guess what though, it doesnít need to be! it wasnít an ďessentialĒ part of anyoneís life pre-myspace, if you wanted to see what your friends were up to, youíd call them up and theyíd call up other friends and they would call up others and you would all meet up somewhere and hang out and INTERACT PHYSICALLY with one another.

Also pointing out the fact that you are coming from the point of view of a 19yo is about as pointless as anything. You were born into technology. You are practically Borg. You have no history of life BEFORE the internet. Only Vague memories of phones with cords on them and Cellular phones you could kill a horse with. This is coming from a 35yo Network Administrator, who, btw, does have a facebook page but thinks updating my status every 15minutes is just plain retarded. I have managed to reconnect with a few friends from my past, but mostly I use it for the fact that it has a single signon function for many pages that I visit regularly. I, in fact, have NEVER updated a status on my Facebrik page.. even once.

Simply put, pull your head out of the facebook cloud and actually go an interact with people! ďsoanso is now doing something retarded!Ē is not interaction.. Try Shaking someoneís hand, or talking to them without using your thumbs. you may find it pretty rewarding!

Milx replies:

I understand that people drop Facebook for various reasons. What you donít understand is that that makes no difference to my point whatsoever. It doesnít make a difference to the point that in my age bracket, using Facebook makes everything a million times easier and more convenient. When people around my age donít have a Facebook it usually ends up with them becoming more socially isolated, due to all the easy ways to keep in contact through Facebook. Either that, or theyíre already socially isolated so see no need for it. I know why the few friends I have that donít have Facebooks donít have them, and none of them were citing business practices as their reason... That was the point I was making, that for people around my age, not having Facebook is a serious decision that actually has a lasting effect on your social life.

Iím not speaking for your age bracket, or your social group. Iím speaking for mine, and expressing the flip side of ďFACEBOOK IS DUMB EVERYONE ON IT IS STUPID HURRĒ

schmoe replies:

This is hilarious. Iím in your age bracket and I remember being very young and very fond of computers and especially the internet before it gained critical mass. It was an absolute nightmare trying to convince anyone that this stuff wasnít ďjust for nerdsĒ. Things like IRC where you could have actual, immediate conversations were looked at as weird and creepy. People donít even remember the older social sites like xanga, bolt or friendster. What was popular? Ad plastered AIM and MSN. Same damn thing as ICQ, which they wouldíve never touched.

Now the same people that were confused and wary of technology are calling other people creepy for not using the same technologies they once labeled nerdy. I guess this is because of the general culture shift to elevating prepackaged nerdiness as defined by TV shows. Now you can be a nerd too by just pressing big icons on a smartphone. Ainít life grand?

Some people have moved on, some people want privacy, and some people just donít give a damn about you waiting in line for a burger.

Lao Tsu writes:

I do believe youíre one of the sanest people, Iíve encountered on the net.

Thank you for seeing this stuff in context of reality, not in context of internet hype.

Leaving FB isnít a cry for help, itís a choice to use time better and lose petty schoolyard, drama queens and stalkers.

The funny thing is the increased social acceptability of very creepy behaviour by people and companies on social networks.

Despite all the additional political correctness in the world, the lack of social correctness and sociopathic behaviour of people on the web is amazingÖ.not trolls, ordinary people.

Related:

Facebook, Smart Phones An Unprecedented Tool For Law Enforcement Data Collection

Using Twitter To Help Expose Psychopaths

Is Facebook Making You Lonely?

Facebook Can Tell You If A Person Is Worth Hiring

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