Facebook and me

I posted the following to my Facebook timeline:

Hi, if you arrived here and don’t find much, this post tries to explain why I’m using Facebook as a placeholder rather than a space to share my life:

I find Facebook creepy

Whenever I’m on Facebook (Fb) I feel I’m being observed and analysed by computer code (AI/artificial intelligence) or the faceless programmers behind that code. It’s like being on the wrong side of a one-way mirror in a psychiatric ward.

Facebook makes me feel manipulated

When I respond on a friend’s feed, I’m conscious that strangers will also read my comment. So how I might normally communicate becomes mediated by a mostly invisible audience: another one-way mirror. So the question is for whom am I doing this?

Facebook makes me feel cheap

I resist posting to Fb because then you’ll get a message announcing ‘Hendrik updated his status.’ This is frankly embarrassing: my ‘status(!?)’, nothing less. I find the whole business patronising and coercive.

I find Facebook depressing

Is it the shade of blue or the font, or that we’re all crammed in there desperate for affirmation? I want to run a mile!

Facebook is changing the nature of relationship

To communicate is to be with someone. By being, I mean listening carefully from a place of silence. Otherwise, what’s the point? How can I or anyone else do that on Fb?

Facebook’s now calling the shots

The last time I logged onto Fb I learnt important news from a good friend’s feed. It came as a shock as I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The implications are that I must dutifully log on to Fb like everyone else for news that might formerly have been shared directly. But it’s logical that if everyone’s on Fb why have a conversation with only one. It’s economics.

A matter of principle

Many of the over one billion people who daily ‘do their Fb’ have apparently never used a Web browser and therefore assume Fb is the World Wide Web (WWW), which it isn’t. Fb is an app – as in application – which (together with the other Fb-owned apps: Instagram and WhatsApp) is luring and then locking the world behind its walls. So I’m walking my own path, thereby supporting the WWW by blogging instead (see below)

Where I post

Please visit me on the WWW at the following URL where I try, as in this post, to understand what’s actually going on: www.hendrikmentz.com, alternatively email me: info@hendrikmentz.com.


The following two Medium posts suggested I do likewise, namely, analyse and share, on Facebook and elsewhere, my fear of and aversion to Facebook:

6 thoughts on “Facebook and me”

  1. Dear Hendrik. I spotted this in my email. Many thanks. I shall get back to you on the website. I also have a problem with the exposure on Facebook. I spent forever yesterday going through the privacy options. I need to keep Facebook because I belong to the Save Manston Airport association and updates for our 2,000 members are posted on the closed group page.
    I need to get rid of all the ‘friends of friends’ etc and do some radical cutting. I blocked my Timeline at least a year ago. Stuff materialises without my knowledge and I see it only if I happen to check my page when a notification comes up on the screen. All the best, Jill.

    1. Hi Jill, if you didn’t want your response to the post to be published just say and I’ll ‘rescind’ the ‘approval’ (which makes it public) and it will therefore no longer be viewable.

      Mark Zuckerberg in his most recent manifesto states that he wants to give groups and communities such as yours the tools to function effectively for the purpose of keeping us all safe and saving the world. Apposite, therefore, might be this critique by Ben Thompson, of Zuckerberg’s manifesto: https://stratechery.com/2017/manifestos-and-monopolies/.

  2. Interesting, Hendrik.

    But… Social media is invaluable to a company like mine. And I call Google the great god to whom I must pay homage so that he/she/it will find me and hopefully give me a good rating.

    It is frightening what people choose to post on Facebook and often as ‘public’. And it is time-consuming. But again, it does have a place, and one cannot expect people to share your posts (business) if you don’t reciprocate.

    I am concerned about how much one must ‘put yourself out there’, but I haven’t found a solution yet.


    1. Indeed, Elize, the dilemma of weighing costs and benefits – a dilemma faced not only by you and me but also, inter alia, old-media companies, who are seeing their products hijacked and their functions usurped by Fb, in particular. But I agree, Fb does have its place – used judiciously and strategically. As you say in your final sentence the ultimate or big answer is, however, elusive (for you and most of the rest of us). In times like this where nothing makes much sense I’m paradoxically strengthened by bringing to mind Sartre’s ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ – http://dbanach.com/sisyphus.htm . Additionally, this Russian proverb might speak to your situation: ‘What good is honour on an empty stomach?’ (Source: James Reston in Washington; Russia’s Book of Proverbs – http://www.nytimes.com/1985/02/17/opinion/washington-russia-s-book-of-proverbs.html). The fear, however, is the long term.

  3. What can I say? Your condemnation of Facebook is articulate, literate and to a certain degree – accurate. I know that you feel strongly about Facebook, but I do still feel that it does serve a useful purpose. I use the “message” option far more than the timeline – and that is completely private.
    As regards WhatsApp – I belong to two groups – a family group and my church “midweek meeting” group – and it certainly streamlines communications that are of relevance only to the people in the group. It is a useful tool – not a restrictive obstacle. However, your caveats about overuse – and wrong use – of social media are both timely and helpful.

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