Ein Abschiedsbrief an Facebook

Dear Facebook,

This is farewell.

I’d like to add »I’m afraid«, just to be polite, but honestly I am looking forward to freeing myself from you. Because, you know, you have become sort of a bad habit. A clutter in my life. You have failed to live up to your potential. In fact, you underachieved just miserably.

You know – well, actually you don’t, but still – for most of my life I have felt inspired by people who had it all and walked away from it. People that would give up power, fame, status or money because they felt that there was something bigger, that a change had to be made or rather simply that what they were doing would give them fortune, admiration and veneer but involved too much compromise.

So I admire the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev for helping end the cold war or Frederik Willem de Klerk for helping end Apartheid in South Africa. I admire the likes of George Lazenby for walking away from James Bond despite a contract for more pictures, and I admire the likes of Jack Gleeson for taking a break from acting to become a doctor and help people (which, ironically, I only learned through Facebook.)

Also, I have made it a habit of taking a step back every once in a while to look at things and think them over. I am not the kind of person to keep things just because. If I find that I get nothing out of certain things and/or that certain things do me no good I usually do away with them.

Funnily, when I walk away people will very often approach me, asking me why oh why and tell me that they’ll miss me. The point is, it’s too late then. When I walk away it’s because I made up my mind. It’s not a hasty reaction. It’s because I stood by observing and watching and I didn’t like what I’d see. So I’ll take these people by their shoulders, turn them around and tell them: »Well, look back. What do you see along the way that should make me stay?«

So what it boils down to is, I have come to a point where I don’t see any reason to stay. You, Facebook, don’t do my any good. I get nothing from you, except hypertension. You say you want to connect people but in fact you are a driving force of division. You introduced me to haters and trolls and religious nutters and conspiracists of all shapes and sizes. And I’ve had it, simple as that.

What little good there is on Facebook comes from my friends, my real friends, who are supportive, witty, smart, creative and dedicated people. But the little good that they represent gets drowned by hate-speech and racism, ignorance, shitstorms and shaming.

Such is life, you say? – Right, I’ll give you that. We’re all grown-ups here, taking our own decisions and acting in our own responsibility. You have no duty of care whatsoever. According to you it’s all freedom of speech. Got it. I don’t know how censorship software for undemocratic regimes fits in there, but I got it.

Then again, Facebook, if it’s really all freedom of speech – why do you interfere? Bugger off. Don’t impose your priggish rules upon me. Don’t try to tell me that racial slur is fine, that death threats are fine, that hate crime is fine, that anti-Semitism is fine and that a picture of a naked person is not. After all, we’re all grown-ups here, taking our own decisions and acting in our own responsibility. And you have no duty of care whatsoever. Right?

As a matter of fact, you, Facebook, give short and simple messages priority over long and thoughtful postings. You give emotionalising pictures priority over a complex and educating read. You give sensational videos priority over real news of high (or any) journalistic standards.

So you, Facebook, are a bullshit multiplier. You are a hotbed of ignorance and a booster of stupidity. And you know it. You have algorithms and filters and news bots in place to tell you. Sure you know it. It’s just that you don’t care. Don’t tell me that such is life and that you don’t have the resources to stop harassment, misogyny and discrimination when really you have armies of people and infinite computer power at your disposal to decide which content to display and which to hide, which to move up and which to relegate in order to follow the money.

Don’t tell me that you just depict life as it happens to be when really you have PR task forces sprawling the word’s powerhouses and you are making money from fear mongering, trolling, fake news, factoids and half-truths. Just don’t. It would be an insult for both of us.

All that being said, Facebook, I will now walk away.

I made up my mind to for once do as the people you so endorse do: I will grab you by your capitalist groin and delete my account. I will no longer give you my data, my thoughts, my content, my wit or any of my creativity. I will refuse to feed you and to be fast-fed by you. I will dismiss any delusion of »reach« or »likes« or »clicks«.

Instead, I will free up some space on my mobile by removing the Facebook app. I’ll read some more. I’ll write some more. I’ll turn to e-mailing again. I’ll go to the store and actually buy newspapers, pay for content, support journalists. I’ll visit my favourite artists‘ websites and follow them there. You know, most of their Facebook posts were »words from sponsors« only, anyway.

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