I have lamented several times about the unprofessional nature of Facebook, its constant streams of political dogma, its disgusting memes, and its general comparison to a trailer park where Skinny Pete and Badger are probably selling blue meth.
Today I finally decided to cut ties with it.
Sure, Facebook is a place where most grannies go to get pictures of the grandkids, but really it has become a place where writers like me can waste mounds of valuable time. After all, I should be writing.
I will now list the reasons that writers should take the leap, but if you do some soul searching you will soon discover that you will be better off without much social media other than Twitter.
Facebook As An Anthill - A colony of red ants lives in my yard. Every year I go out and try to eradicated them and everything I’ve tried doesn’t work. I’ll go out there and kick them around and they will become agitated and attempt to sting me, swarming across the ground angrily in their futile attempt. About a year ago I used to use Facebook like someone who would lay down on top of the anthill naked and let them bite me. I’d get tired of seeing unsubstantiated nonsense posted by armchair know-it-alls and have to respond, which would cause them to sting me and really make my life miserable. Recently, like James Joyce noticing the word “fetus” scrawled on a desk, I had an epiphany that Facebook is (after all) just an anthill. When I run over the anthill with my riding lawnmower I don't get stung, and as a matter of fact I often forget that it was there at all. Political opinions, conspiracy theory rants and trolls matter not in changing any opinion at all. It is useless to respond. I don’t need to worry about the anthill.
It Wastes Valuable Time - Currently I am a high school English Teacher who also runs an alternative education program. On top of that I started working at Sam’s Club in the evenings and on weekends to pay off debt. This leaves precious little time to write. I have to maximize that time or I will inevitably become a non-writer. Writers write. If you are a writer like me who has a day job, then you need to quit using Facebook right now. You can find yourself scrolling through the thing and soon you have wasted thirty minutes or so because you just want to check to see how so-and-so is doing. So-and-so will be fine. They were fine before the invention of Facebook. Just pick up a phone and call them if you are concerned. It’s what I do for people I care about.
It Is Mostly False - As a person who struggles with depression (and often times writers share in this disorder) Facebook is a place where people are posting all the happy things they are doing. They will never post a picture of them having it out with their spouse or spanking their two year old for pulling the dog’s ear for the fifteenth time. Lives on Facebook are perfect. The last thing a depressed person needs is to scroll through the “perfect” lives of shiny happy people.
Information Gathering - Recently there has been much talk about the invasive nature of Facebook, namely the gathering of information by the company in order to sell that information to even bigger and nastier corporations. Check out this well-researched article from Andrew Griffin on the subject if you don’t believe me. When I heard the news about this, watched Mark Zuckerberg testify before congress, I was as most of you were - appalled. But most of you just kept on using Facebook, trusting that after you did the little trick to delete your data that you were safe. What you don’t realize is that when you sign the Facebook contract you agree to their use of your personal data, what you watch on TV, searches you make on the internet, to spy on you and push ads toward you to sell products. This is, in fact, Facebook’s business model. If you don’t want them to gather data on you, then you should delete them right away.
It Doesn’t Boost Your Book Sales Anyway - I’ve done tons of Facebook promotions over the years. All of them have been lackluster at best. The problem is that Facebook chooses who will see your posts and announcements. People have to pay premium prices to assure that all of their posts are seen by all of the people on their friends list. This doesn’t include potential people who are not on your friends list who might be interested in one of your books. An author has a potential to reach more people on Twitter than they do on Facebook. There is also zero transparency as to who is actually following you on Facebook and who has chosen to remain friends but doesn’t follow your feed. These factors create a marketing vacuum that is a huge hurdle in reaching the fans you need to buy your books. You’d do better going to a convention and setting up a table.
If you are an author who has quit Facebook, share your story below in the comments. What are some reasons you haven’t quit Facebook yet? What is stopping you from doing so?