Ambivalence about Facebook

News of the Cambridge Analytics debacle has prompted several of my friends to quit Facebook. They say (rightly) that anyone who needs to reach them has their e-mail address or phone number. Perhaps their choice is the politically and morally right move, yet…

Some of the friends in question are people I knew years ago, who I had lost touch with. Others are people I’ve connected with in some way but never actually met. I get a little window into their life every once in a while, when they post to Facebook or comment on a post of mine. I don’t have other contact information for them, but there aren’t any circumstances under which I’d need to reach out to them anyway.

I’ve never been very good at keeping up correspondence with friends in far away places, so I probably just won’t hear from them again. Before the internet, I’d just have lost touch with these people. Facebook made it so that my social world overlapped theirs at the edges, and their leaving will make my world a little smaller.

I hope there’s some way to have social media without shameless data harvesting and manipulation, because having a richer, wider world is a nice thing.

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