More and more people are leaving Facebook. Approximately 7 million a year. Most of these people leave over privacy concerns. I think that is very responsible and wise. But to term this as virtual social suicide or virtual identity suicide? That goes a bit too far for me.
Recently a study was done to get more detail on who is leaving Facebook and what the main reasons are. Time magazine did an overview of the result as the report itself can only be read if you pay for it. The results are fairly predictable. Most of the leavers are male and most say that the main reason for leaving is the concern for privacy.
The study and the article both step over the initial idea that leaving Facebook is a form of social suicide, in fact they present it as a given. But is this the case? So I had a look at myself. What do I use Facebook for and how does it relate to my social life.
First of all, I admit, I am not an average Facebook user. I am too old and too concerned with privacy to be average. Also, I use Facebook for business, not just social activities. Basically I use Facebook because there is no better alternative out there yet.
Limiting my focus on the social aspect, I can see where I benefit from using Facebook as it keeps me in touch with distant friends and family. Some of my family no longer reply to emails, if I want to talk to them I need to do it via Facebook.
What would happen if I shut down, if I removed my Facebook account (as if you can, Facebook keeps everything!), what impact would that have? It would change the way I communicate with people, as I would have to use the phone more, but other than that, I doubt if it would change much. I would have to pay a little more attention to what is going on around me. A lot of the events I go to these days, are planned via Facebook and I get the invitation via Facebook.
Quick conclusion for me is, yes Facebook makes some aspects of my social life easier, but it would not damage my social life if I disconnected. So the only reason I am staying is because I need it for my work. Until a more private platform comes along. We are working on it.