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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... That’s 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, he’s 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 it’s 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 Slashdot’s phrasing, that “not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer.”

I’m 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 who’d ‘poked’ 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 we’ve mentioned it before that if you are going out with someone and they don’t have a Facebook profile, you should be suspicious.

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

Farhad: I think I’ve recommended that. You know why, though? Imagine if this guy didn’t have a Facebook profile. That’s why. You should be suspicious of someone who is not making your relationship known publicly on a site like Facebook. I’m going to go on record with that.

Emily: I’m fine with people not having a Facebook page if they don’t want one. However, I think you’re right. If you’re of a certain age and you meet someone who you are about to go to bed with, and that person doesn’t 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 don’t actually want to know what their old high school buddies are up to.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard both job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesn’t 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, it’s 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 Giant’s siren call. Continuing to navigate life without having this digital form of identification may be like trying to get into a bar without a driver’s license.

“You can’t get away from it. It’s everything. It’s everywhere,” she told the Washington Post. “The moment we’re in now is about trying to deal with all this technology rather than rejecting it, because obviously we can’t reject it entirely.” 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:

It’s very “popular” nowadays to hate Facebook among the counterculture, counterculture but just because your friends are useless on Facebook doesn’t mean that Facebook is not a big part of peoples’ 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 they’re already with someone or available using Facebook.

-Many people don’t have time to keep up with many people at once, or have multiple social circles that are all completely disconnected. For example, I’ve moved 20+ times in my life, so I have social circles from each of these places I lived and I don’t 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 what’s going on in the others’ 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 who’s 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 hadn’t talked to in a while...

Maybe you’re just too…old 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 don’t use Facebook. I also know that I would like to contact them, but considering I didn’t assume they don’t use Facebook when I met them I don’t 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 don’t use Facebook. I also end up having to recount my entire life every time I see someone who doesn’t use it, because they don’t 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 “essential” part of Life is really kind of sad. Yes, it is a large part of many people’s lives. Guess what though, it doesn’t need to be! it wasn’t an “essential” part of anyone’s life pre-myspace, if you wanted to see what your friends were up to, you’d call them up and they’d 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! “soanso is now doing something retarded!” is not interaction.. Try Shaking someone’s 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 don’t understand is that that makes no difference to my point whatsoever. It doesn’t 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 don’t 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 they’re already socially isolated so see no need for it. I know why the few friends I have that don’t have Facebooks don’t 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.

I’m not speaking for your age bracket, or your social group. I’m speaking for mine, and expressing the flip side of “FACEBOOK IS DUMB EVERYONE ON IT IS STUPID HURR”

schmoe replies:

This is hilarious. I’m 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 wasn’t “just for nerds”. Things like IRC where you could have actual, immediate conversations were looked at as weird and creepy. People don’t 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 would’ve 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. Ain’t life grand?

Some people have moved on, some people want privacy, and some people just don’t give a damn about you waiting in line for a burger.

Lao Tsu writes:

I do believe you’re one of the sanest people, I’ve encountered on the net.

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

Leaving FB isn’t a cry for help, it’s 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 amazing….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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