οἱ φίλοι, οὐδείς φίλος
"Many friends, no friend."
- Diogenes Laertius's Aristotle in
In deciding whether or not to permanently delete my Facebook, one of the questions I asked myself is: do I value my Facebook-based relationships with other people more than no relationship?
In virtually all cases the answer was no, i.e. I'd rather have no relationship than a purely Facebook-based one.
I have deleted Facebook before but what has kept me coming back to the platform is the desire to share things, particularly things that I myself have created.
In the end though I felt that it is enough to share my creations through this blog, by email and with total strangers on YouTube and Tumblr.
It has been said that Facebook makes you hate people you know (unlike Twitter which makes you hate/love people you don't know) and, as I've written before (Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes), Facebook is a great medium to realise how little one has in common with one's 'friends'.
Another issue I have with Facebook and social media generally is unless people provide an explicit context for their posts, the things people choose to put up are divorced from any sense of their reality and life-context, so that, for example, when I make an assertion on Facebook about a particular issue, no one has an inkling of how much thought I have put into it, reading it as categorical and arrogant, not of course having taken the time to familiarise themselves with my philosophy.
Simply put, I do not feel I can transcend the way Facebook is designed and reach out to people; rather, I get a greater sense of a confirmation that we are all enemies based on context-less and perceived differences, including with our own friends and family, which is apparently the philosophy held by one of the brains that inspired the Facebook creators.
In addition, due to lack of context, the things I choose to share, such as thoughts or conspiratorial angles, will be taken at face value when I myself do not take them at face value and my Facebook persona, i.e. the way in which people perceive me based on my Facebook activity, will be miles away from my own felt and experienced reality.
"Notre personnalité sociale est une création de la pensée des autres." - Marcel ProustIt is sad that we feel ourselves in a position to assess a person's character and possible worth based on the minute expression of their being as evidenced by their Facebook or Twitter activity.
All this brings me to a wider point of what media really do: they filter, i.e. mediate, reality in some way but often in a more deceiving than revealing manner.
Perhaps a good way to gage whether to consume a certain form of media, be it books, TV or indeed Facebook, is by realising whether the way the medium filters reality is energy-giving or depleting, increases one's well-being or undermines it, enhances one's understanding or diminishes it or, in the case of Facebook, adds value to human relationships or destroys them.
Addendum - Another key difference between Facebook and real-life relationships is that on Facebook everyone asserts himself, whether by sharing or creating, first and then decides whether or not to respond to what others have shared whereas usually in a real-life relationship both parties naturally seek to first find a terrain d'entente, i.e. a common ground of understanding, and then give their positions with regards to that ground. In that sense accusations of Facebook that it promotes narcissism, self-centredness and closure from others' reality have some foundation.