Social Enterprise optimize

10 reasons why I avoid social networking services

Social networking has had a huge impact on how we communicate and interact -- but some people refuse to get caught up in the trend. Alan Norton explains why he's one of them.

I have a confession to make. I don't do social networking. That's not that unusual for someone my age. Just 8% of all Facebook users fall into my age group. Nonetheless, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, social networking is popular and still growing. While only 8% of adult Internet users used social networking sites in 2005, that number had grown to 65% by 2011. Why then do some people in general and older Internet users in particular avoid social networking services? I can give you 10 reasons why this experienced ancient one doesn't use them.

1: I have privacy concerns

The recent IPO of Facebook wasn't as successful as its backers wanted. But it was successful bringing to the public's attention Facebook's privacy concerns. I, like many others, don't fully understand how serious those concerns are. It does make for a great excuse though to avoid Facebook altogether. Putting your personal information in the care of others, no matter how diligent their stewardship, increases your risk of that information getting into the hands of third parties.

Our image is, in part, defined by our words. Each of us should ask how much of ourselves we want to give to people we don't even know. Once gone, that private piece of our lives can never be retrieved.

2: Ownership of content is unclear

Who actually owns and who controls "your" intellectual content that you post is not as clear as you might think. Terms vary by social networking service, but typically you give up control of how your content may be used. Which raises the question: If you don't control it, do you really own it? It isn't clear who legally owns your content. The Twitter Terms of Service as of July 4, 2012, clearly states that you own the content you post:

"You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services....But what's yours is yours -- you own your Content (and your photos are part of that Content)."

According to a New York judge, however, Twitter owns your Tweets. That should at least cause you to pause before posting anything at any site other than your own. I am not a lawyer, but it appears that the legal ownership of your Tweets and other posted content may not be fully determined for years.

3: It's too impersonal

Social networking offers an easy way to meet people -- perhaps too easy. No commitment is required, and you can invest as much or as little of your time as you wish. Social networking services can be a great way to keep people at a distance: Interact only when and where you want with whom you want. That may be great for some people. I prefer more meaningful ways to interact, like face-to-face and over the phone. People value your full attention and time. Social interaction is only as rewarding as you are willing to make it, whether in person or online.

4: I want to minimize online gaffes

There is that risqué limerick you shared while in high school or those embarrassing statements you made about a former employer that can be found with a simple Web search. Pity the poor job interviewee grilled by an interviewer who did his homework and found your ignorance, or worse, the bad information you posted about a topic for which you are supposed to be an expert. If you must post, practice safe posting. Of course, abstinence means never having to say you're sorry.

5: I want to minimize data points for possible data mining

Make a spelling mistake or grammatical error and you can be dinged for it forever. For me, it would be embarrassing as a writer and a blow to my ego but not a great loss. To a younger person interviewing for a job, consider what this report would do for a first impression:

It's not likely that you will run across this level of detail at your next job interview. But it isn't that difficult to collect such data -- and you can bet that if it can be done, it will be done. Never mind the fact that such data is fraught with problems.

6: I don't subscribe to social fads

Call me a rebel, please. I don't like following the sheep to gain their acceptance. Clothing from Sears has always been my fashion statement, though the local thrift store has of late been getting my business. Twitter and Facebook may just be another fad that comes and goes, like AIM and MySpace.

7: I don't like being pressured to join

The sinister way that social networking services sneak into even the most ardent holdout's daily life is through invitations from friends and family members. Yes, I am now a lousy brother in law because I ignored an invitation from my brother's wife to join her inside circle at Facebook. I became a rotten friend when I politely turned down a request to be in a friend's LinkedIn professional network. Thank goodness my nephews and nieces have yet to ask me to "join up." I would hate to be a terrible uncle too.

8: I don't need the abuse

I used to think that posting at services like Usenet was something akin to self flagellation. Why would I risk being verbally flogged for posting what others might perceive as flame bait? I still don't need the abuse but, thankfully, I no longer take name calling like "idiot" or "nimrod" as personally as I once did. Being flamed has instead become part of the profession "writer" and a badge of honor. Those who post on TechRepublic are a class act by comparison -- people who disagree with me here call me "Mr. Norton."

9: It's more work

If your work is anything like my experiences in the cubicle, you already spend enough time typing when you answer emails, update status reports, and write code. It's just no fun coming home to more of the same.

This may not apply to you, but when you write for a living, it's not a lot of fun interacting socially with the written word. After calculating the amount of wisdom I spew forth per dollar received, I have to tell you, I am working cheap (1:51 - 2:23). I just can't afford to give away my wisdom for free.

The bottom line...

...is that it's just not me (#10). Some of us prefer to keep ourselves to our self. I have heard about certain sites that cater to the courtship rituals of modern Homo sapiens, but every day that goes by I become less modern than the day before. Neither do I need to network for a job, though I used to believe that getting published was far better than social networking when it came to that big job interview. My notoriety, or lack thereof, has me now questioning the accuracy of that belief. Then there's the fact that I have yet to find a reason why I should tell countless others how totally devoid of meaning my life really is.

According to an analysis of tweets by Pear Analytics, 40% of all tweets are pointless babble. I have better ways to atrophy my brain, better ways to slowly turn my gray matter into mush. Is it possible that we will prefer communicating via machine rather than one on one? Personal social interaction could become a lost art. And it would be a shame for humanity to become so impersonal.

I can guess that some of you more analytical thinkers are saying, "Hold on there just a minute, Alan. You participate in the forums at TechRepublic. Doesn't that make you a hypocrite?" I believe that every writer should be available to answer any questions that you, the patient reader, might have. What you may perceive as hypocrisy is merely relativistic disingenuous behavioral prioritization. I would be hypocritical if I didn't participate. Besides, sometimes you've just gotta throw 10 silly reasons to the wind and risk acting the goat so you can help someone.

How about you?

Do you share some of these objections and concerns? Or have you come to rely on social networking as a means of enriching your life and advancing your career? Share your thoughts with other TechRepublic members.

About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

380 comments
Treknology
Treknology

Facebook? Oh yes! That site where I have one extreme close-up photo while wearing a huge pair of sunglasses so that even people who know me won't recognise me, and I'm listed as a Nigerian Scammer living in Peru. As for other fora that I visit, again, personal information is fake. If someone were to add up all the supposed locations in which I live or work, I would be clocking up light-years faster than "Earth Force One". Ursa Minor is a long-haul flight!


My primary motivations to post anything on facebook are political, health or libertarian related, and I really have no time for people who post, "Got sh*tfaced last night. Gotta work today," or those who keep taking photos of their lunch. This rather limits my number of "friends".


While I use much fake information to preserve "privacy", I knew from the very first day that I dialed up to an ISP and had even a temporary IP address, that such "privacy" was thereafter an illusion -- as Edward Snowden (like many before him) has recently revealed. Come to think of it, my information is probably safer with facebook than a government department. Facebook can be sued. The NSA can't.

JackB555
JackB555

Guys think about it, someone who uses facebook could easily be crazy in real life, it doesn't matter whether or not they're using it.

Facebook is filled with adds for porn, cougars, anti feminism, racism, hateful comments, full of negativity in general, propaganda, media trying to corrupt you left and right, etc. So what you're saying, is that it's crazy for someone to want stay away from all that? I say it's more crazy to want to be a part of it.

Listen, websites don't influence people. People influence people. Again, the website is just a bunch of pictures and symbols, created by human beings (obviously). People online in general are very cold and rude, and this has been slowly translating to real life as well because people don't know any better.

Now have you ever thought also that maybe, staying away from the website could mean that you want to have closer and better relationships with your friends and family? I don't know about you guys, but I sometimes miss talking to someone over the phone and hearing their voice.. Or even better, seeing them face to face.

Someone can also want to stay away from social media, because they want more time pursuing their goals, having more time for hobbies and activities, etc.

So many people make judgements and make stories or assumptions about people and think they're true, though in reality, most of the time they're wrong.

pwhistler
pwhistler

Perhaps we should organise a social site for people like us that refuse to be sucked into the modern world!

raviksri2004
raviksri2004

Hi Alan, Good point, you have mentioned. I have similar concerns. Nice article. I hope, there are others like us :-)

Not~SpamR
Not~SpamR

Every once in a while I see my wife's Farcebook feed. That's all it takes to keep me away. Most of it seems to be people telling the world they are having a coffee or some such. Even when I know the people concerned I really couldn't care less if they are having a coffee right now.

It's also pretty stupid the way people post pictures taken at home (geotagged, so their home location is known) and then post "At the airport waiting for my two weeks in the sun". Or, in other words, "hey everybody, this is where I live and I won't be there for a fortnight".

Then comes the type of user who spams everybody and their dog with friend requests. Usually the guy it's difficult to refuse for social or political reasons and yet you know that as soon as you accept him he's going to spam every one of your friends with a friend request even if they haven't got the first idea who he is. 

I'd rather get on with life than endlessly try and look interesting to people I only vaguely know.

kchimwanda
kchimwanda

Even me, I have NO interest in telling 200+ "friends" where I am having lunch on my vacation, or if my dog is sick or I have a cold and am in bed.

BUT I am going to take a few minutes, create all necessary social media accounts like facebook etc, lock-down all necessary security patches I possibly can before someone get hold of my photos and any other information required, create and start using Social Media accounts under my name.

Maybe better this way: Create facebook, twitter and or linkedin accounts, lock down security like Login Notifications, Login Approvals, ... Monitor Active sessions especially Facebook

Go ahead and create them before some smart Aleck do it for you

makin97
makin97

i agree with u in all things that's u mention

BrianBlaze
BrianBlaze

Do what you want no one is putting a gun to your head. I did find it funny though that one job interview I went to not too long ago thought it was suspicious because my privacy settings were so high... pretty much you can't win and if you want to fully protect yourself stay in the basement and never leave your house haha seriously I am more afraid of where I swipe my cards then what I say on facebook and I am learning small things to keep myself protected... aliases and such :) Good luck living in your bubble! Also I wonder if you consider Linkedin as one of those sites... Also I think it's important to remember that you choose who your friends are and could easily have those 50 - 100 people who are close in your life and not have anyone else... BE AFRAID! haha

N4AOF
N4AOF

Years ago LinkedIn was a serious professional networking tool - today it would best be described as a Facebook-wannabe. When LinkedIn got started there were standards applied to limit accounts - today LinkedIn harvests email addresses from members and sends spam constantly "inviting" every address it hears about. (see also Reason 7 in the article).

bestquality
bestquality

Social networking has many advantages but also causes more trouble

david786
david786

People are STUNNED when I tell them that I DO NOT have a Facebook, account or for that matter ANY social media. They harrass me and try to coax me along but NO WAY JOSE! Call me a social outcast or what ever you want...dont care...been in this business since the IBM PC was introduced, I am at the highest levels in management and the one thing I have learned is that the Internet is a giant vacuum sucking up your entire life for all the world to see. I have NO interest in telling 200+ "friends" where I am having lunch on my vacation, or if my dog is sick or I have a cold and am in bed. I dont want you to know that my hobbies are sailing, and I like to have a glass of wine while I watch the sunset. But the SCARIEST thing I have heard yet is the new technology that is coming out in social media where it will do face recognition and start identifying people in any picture....background etc if it can match you elsewhere!!!! Now HOW CREEPY is that???? Here you are vacation in Hawaii with your gut out, and someone takes a picture as you walk and you get tagged! Those who are on facebook and other social media now, are soon going to regret they EVER put their name below a picture of themselves!!!! This voyeur society is out of its mind, and I am sticking to my lonely island in the middle of the ocean happily...thank you very much!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

there's a scam where some crimes are sending death threats and extortion notices via LinkedIn accounts, I'm sure they'll get to Farcebook and the Twits soon.

chdchan
chdchan

I am not much a fan of my friends since they are not my heroes, sometimes being foes. So pointless to keep informed about them.

otoemlak
otoemlak

I am surprised that this statistic is so low

suziep12
suziep12

I always run away from something that appears to be too popular. I always feel like a lemming jumping off a cliff when I do???..

starr.cruise
starr.cruise

Excellent article, Alan. I must admit I have a facebook account that I have done nothing with, nor done nothing with, and just need to get rid of. Did it so my best friend could better post pictures for me. What a mess that I now need to clean up. I could never clearly state my reasons as you have, because it was more just a gut reaction for me. I'm private anyways, and I believe its way more than 40% is babble - (what criteria are they using?). So why bother? Looking at what so many people are now calling "communication" blows my mind. I have more meaningful interaction just spending time with my animals. Anyways, I think you really hit it on the head. It all has appeared to me to be the "new way" to communicate, when, in reality, it is alot about being closed off, but denying you are. I am hard of hearing, so speaking on the telephone for me is really difficult, for both parties. I am constantly asked, why not text. My reply, (as my friends will tell you, my conversations have to be meaningful, or I don't waste the energy), "How could I possibly "text" what we are communicating?" No reply. Thanks for speaking up. And more power to them, if that's what they want.

rjplace
rjplace

Since my son and grandchildren back in Arkansas seem to only use Face Book to communicate. It has created empty feelings. No longer do we get to talk to our grandchildren - we go to Face Book to see the newest photos. Our son no longer calls to talk, just to say hi. He sends via Face Book his recent doings. Our grandson bless his heart still calls. We really miss being a part of their lives (hearing the voice of your son - grandchilden ) can not be replaced by Face Book.

BitJox@Yahoo.com
BitJox@Yahoo.com

I proudly exclaim that I have never tweeted on MySpace nor have I ever gotten my FaceBooked. Nor would I ever care how much toilet paper somebody just purchased either.

callmebat62
callmebat62

It did me good to read your post, to find there are more people out there that feel similarly. My faith in my belief system is bolstered!

imanother
imanother

You don't need to join Fishbait or Twatter and open up your life to the world. Those you know who are already members can do it for you: "Did you know Charlie's gonna be away next week [and his house will be carte blanche for burglars].

Shrike49
Shrike49

From what I can see of social networking there is 1 (ONE) good reason for NOT going anywhere Near Twitter, Tweet FaceBook etc., and Thats Security!!! Have a scout around the Net for related IT Security issue's. That alone is enough to Put you off!! Meantime I also agree wholeheartly with Alan! I have better things to than twitter, tweet, facebook or crap on about what I had for breakfast, besides there is a much better social activety called communicating (talking) face to face and if thats not possible, a phone call or an email does the job! etc etc ... Bla Bla Bla

VOMIChairman
VOMIChairman

I guess you were being kind to your IT audience.

rlopes
rlopes

It's amazing how many people ask me if I'm on Facebook, and most of them are young adults. When I respond that I have no intention of getting on any of these social networks, they look at me in horror and wonder what is wrong with me. I too have concerns about privacy and that's what I explain to these youngsters. They can shake their heads at me all they want, but someday, I may be shaking my head right back at them saying, "I told you so."

twig.lewis
twig.lewis

Who cares if I just checked in at Outback, Baskin Robins, then where ever? The daily quotes drive me crazy! And all those pictures? The numerous postings made are not creditable (OK, lies) and hurt people. Social networks are for people who have nothing else better to do!

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

I don't think most people realize how much privacy they give up when joining social networks. If you doubt this just Google your sign-in. Everything you ever posted will be displayed.

gsmckenna999
gsmckenna999

Finally, someone I understand, I think there may be hope for the human condition after all.

dimonic
dimonic

A lot of this smacks of that terrible WASP fear that someone, somewhere may find out some truth about me, and I am terribly uncomfortable with that. And heaven help that anyone should ever try to sell me anything, especially not face to face. That is what TV ads are for. I shouldn't have to share space with some salesperson who I might have to turn down in person, and risk hurt feelings. I get that there are real privacy concerns, but slipping in the bit about school bake sales and vaccuum cleaners is not helping your case. You are just feeding the fogey-trolls.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

all the time, but even average people take basic precautions like not walking through the centre of a gang controlled ghetto area after dark while wearing a set of clothes worth a thousand bucks. Some people see avoiding the social media sites as the same as not trying to walk through a cluster of gangstas in the corner of the street - and in way too many cases they're proven right.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Will most likely be far more profitable for them as they will pay the money before thinking. ;) Col

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

That is an interesting article and it was originally published in 2008. I wonder if it is possible to have Facebook Fatigue before using Facebook? If so, I must have it. I heard a commercial on the radio yesterday that went something like this: "Like us for a chance to win..." That kind of marketing was predictable. I entered "Tucson like us for a chance to win" in the StartPage search box and received a lot of results - don't know how I missed this way of stacking the deck up to this point.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

and near-complete acceptance/embrace belong to the things upon which you'd 'be in agreement' with even the least savory (or let's say, 'least like you') of humans. We like to think that we make better choices than people with whom we disagree on much of everything, too. I waited 7 or 8 years to read 'TheHobbit' in the 1970s because I didn't want to be seen (at the time) doing 'the most broadly popular thing'. Besides, in cultures where the *culture* is so managed, it's clear that anything "too popular" (as you said) is coming from the top down, and isn't necessarily great--or even beneficial--but merely 'widely distributed' (by your 'betters'----for YOUR use). Manufactured 'needs' are typically way-too-popular..."It's/she's/they're an OVERNIGHT SENSATION!!!"

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

are arranging a visit to you as a training exercise, so have the welcome mat out - that way they may use JUST the door.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

crimes on GB and then find the police using that as the starting point for the evidence trail to convict them.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not Protestant or even Christian, but I guard my online security pretty closely. Does that mean I have to start going to church? Interacting directly with people would take quite a bit of time away from my online social networking. At least, it would if I was on line...

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

...particular ethnic cross-section (not even a 'subculture group', those WASPs)?! Say...are you an 'ignorant, racist troll', very much? Or a well-adjusted human with some legitimate gripe against millions upon millions of your species? P.S. Here's a fun riddle: What do you call people who've seen the world at work wth their own eyes for 25-50 years longer than you have, and (as a result of their long hands-on experience) come off to the dilletantia as 'pretty damned opinionated' about most things? (hint: answer at bottom) Like a famous 'old guy' once said, "There is nothing new under the Sun." (That's right; he's dead. You don't get any older than that, do you?!). Most of the time, you really ~have~ seen it before, and are able to chuckle at what they're calling it this time to fool the next generation of suckers. (A: 'fogey-trolls'. If you got this one right, you're a pathetic age-ist, as well as a cultural bigot, dimonic.)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

your accounts will start following the Kardashians!"

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

- to be like them, or - to prefer them as in liking your favourite ice cream. Mind you such a campaign is a total loss and makes them look stupid with the people who aren't twits and not Farcebookers.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

" I waited 7 or 8 years to read 'TheHobbit' in the 1970s because I didn't want to be seen (at the time) doing 'the most broadly popular thing'. " Did you decide it was better to look like you were behind the times and out of touch?

paulfx1
paulfx1

What you speak of sounds rather entertaining. World's stupidest people!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've started 'Hobbit' at least four times in my life. I never get past the first forty or fifty pages. It's been at least two decades since my last attempt, so I don't recall what turned me off. I think I just didn't like JRRT's style, and I've never attempted anything else of his. Now, now; put down the pitchforks...

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

moment. Now that you bring it up, the Classics *are* rather 'out of touch/behind the times', aren't they? That, however, is an indictment of "the times"---not of great literature or its readers. During my lifetime, being "In touch/*with* the times' has resulted in otherwise sane people wearing hideously uncomfortable--not to mention unsightly--articles of clothing (to be as quickly discarded once everyone has theirs and the next 'with it' thing comes along), such as mens suede high-heeled saddle shoes, faces full of *decorative* metal, those ugggg-ly boots they try to spam on here. People such as you and me, who don't play FaceBook, are *hopelessly* out of touch. I revel in that, as do you (a cursory reading of some of your other brilliant posts reveals that you enjoy the same level of interaction with 'social media' in general--and FB in particular--as I do. In times like these, 'out of touch' (*culturally*, anyway) ain't a bad place to be. Sometimes I'm not at all behind the times, but far afield of them to one side or another.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

thisistrue.com - they search the newspapers for articles of fun or interest and check them out and send out a weekly summary of the best. The past events are on their web site and they also sell books of past articles. The real fun is the titles and summary tag lines attached to them. Be warned some are controversial, but still a good laugh.