My Departure From Facebook

You may laugh at my gullibility.  That is, I give you permission.

Being the sort of person who knows a couple hundred people I like well enough to want to keep very mild track of (and, I’d like them to be able to keep very mild track of me), I found Facebook quite useful, at first.

Then those damn quizzes!

Extraordinarily annoying, both in the way they made it seem like friends were always sending them to me on purpose (when actually they weren’t), and in the way they…perhaps “encouraged” is the wrong word, because in the last few weeks they’ve started to insist on me doing it…insisted on me, similarly, passing them along.  And I didn’t know what bugged me more about the actual content of these things, the hopelessly kludgy and artless way they were made, so insultingly dumb, or the fact that you could kind of consider much of the information in them perhaps not marketing data per se, but…

Could I call it para-data?  Plok’s idea of an ideal vacation is this, Plok’s idea of a dream home is that…

Anyway yes, quite annoying, but I overlooked it for a time.

Then I started to think seriously about opting out of Facebook.

Then things got a little more — can I say overwhelmingly spammy? — and I decided definitely to get off of the damn thing.  Still wondered if I might not be overreacting a bit, though.

And then today, I received this quiz from a “friend” who’d doubtless forgotten to make double-sure not to accidentally send it on to me.  Or who hadn’t been permitted to get their own answers without first sending it on.  “How Old Are You Really?” it asked me.

Seemed harmless enough.  I could just check it out.

First it asked me for my age.  The idea being that I have a “real” age which is higher or lower than my chronological age.  So it needs a baseline for that.  Okay.

It then asked me how often I got physical exercise, A, B, C, D, or E.

The next question was whether I was overweight, underweight, normal, obese, etc.  A B C D E.

Next, it asked how much I smoke.

Then it asked me what my blood pressure reading was, the last time I had it checked.  This baffled me a little;  I have no idea what my blood pressure is or was.

Who would know that?

I just filled in one of the A B C D E slots randomly.

I was impatient to discover what this quiz was all about.

Blood pressure.  Ridiculous.

Next question:  when was the last time I had a check-up?  A B C D E.  All the way from “just had one”, to “never have them”.  Seemed kind of silly.  “Never”?  Never.  Who answers never, I wondered to myself?  I wonder who, who would be using Facebook, would be the person who answered nev…?

I stopped typing.  Like the keyboard had given me a shock.  My hands jerked up in the air, and hung there.

This thing was harvesting my medical information.

I had wondered who was answering never.  And the answer to that question suddenly became horrifying apparent.

The answer was:  if I was Facebook, I would know the answer.

That’s not para-data anymore, friends.  That’s not spam, or a chain letter.  They have my name.  They have my birth date.  They have my home city.  They have my marital status, sexual orientation, political views, religion, and what kind of art I like, what my ideal vacation is, my dream home, favourite colour.  I know:  I gave them all that, and yes it was stupid of me but I did.  Well, most of it is not that hard to find out anyway.  It’s not really any different from the other hundreds of cues I’m giving away all the time, online or anywhere else.  Stupid.  Agreed.  Really stupid.

Medical history, though.  Even I’m not that stupid.

If I was gone before, well I’m really gone now.  Not that it matters to the big NSA mainframe or wherever all that data or para-data’s already gone.  But damned if I’ll touch the evil thing again.  Good God, I’ve never seen a thing as evil as that online.  And so naked!  I wasn’t crazy about Facebook, before.  I was disenchanted with it.

Now, I abominate it.

And that’s my story.

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10 responses to “My Departure From Facebook

  1. Thank you for the warning. We don’t gain new media of accessibility without the individual responsibility for ensuring our privacy, of course. It’s so easy to forget such things.

  2. yes, Facebook is creepily intrusive (although that’s not a problem for an exhibitionist like me!)

    I’ve certainly watched a lot of my friends jump on and off the site over the past year–but I’ve also enjoyed touching base with my old kindergarten chums (and playing Scrabble with all and sundry) far too much to have contemplated doing so myself…

    the main negative about the site–for me–is that it IS interfering quite a bit with my return to blogging….

    add me if you ever return!

    Dave

  3. I certainly will, Dave! But I won’t be back — medical info’s too precious, it’s the Third Rail of data mining, and I take it as a sign that things are about to get a lot more spammily aggressive in that respect over at FB. And, you know, the least I ask from my online toys is that they be morally neutral — but this seems to me to cross that line.

    Plus, I’ve already made all my high school reconnections. So HAH!

    And Jonathan, truer words: but the real nasty bit is how easy it is to get habituated, I think.

  4. Well, they never do…but a friend of mine managed to deactivate hers by removing all the info in the required fields! Which makes sense: if they’re required fields, and you don’t fill ’em out, or you take out what you put in…

    Sounded like a glitch, to me. But then if it was, I guess they’ve fixed it.

  5. that’s awful–I guess taking the thing offline (which my roommate does all of the time) and deleting it completely are two different things… well, that’s one item on the “creepy” side of the Face-ledger…

  6. Hey, maybe! I’ll have to look into that, see if they have any that are violatable…

    Uh, that I could bring myself to do, that is.

    Oh no, I’ve had an idea now.

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