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I loved Facebook and wouldn’t have left. Facebook was an important part of my life.

I made an account almost as soon as it wasn’t just for college students any more, and found a cousin I hadn’t heard from in decades. What great fun to look at his posts and see what he’s up to now! With pictures!

When I looked again a year later, everyone I knew was there.

The great thing about the way Facebook works is that you only see updates from the people you like. If someone’s annoying, you hide that person, and the flip side of that is the reassurance of knowing that if people are seeing your updates, it’s because they choose to. It’s nice to know you can post freely and you’re not spamming anyone.

I used Facebook for years for the “unspoken request” and when I finally escaped my twenty year sentence, I made a couple huge posts finally pouring out the truth I had been hiding for years. A bunch of people commented at once with love and support, so that in an amazing few moments I went from alone and scared to feeling greatly reassured. Friends are what we need, but it was Facebook that made that particular uplifting experience possible.

Do you remember when people first started demanding accountability from Mark Zuckerberg? Long ago someone asked him “Why would people trust you with their personal information?” and his response was “Because they’re dumb f***s.”

But I’d say it’s because they’re enjoying using the system that he invented. It’s their choice. Nobody made them sign up. They decided to trust Mark Zuckerberg, and that’s not stupider than going to the local bar to meet new friends. Facebook was a genuinely cool new concept. (Although really I’m not that impressed with MZ’s genius; with the advent of connectivity it wasn’t a great leap from message boards and personal websites to a central listing with overlapping personal circles.)

I remember when there was a rumor on Facebook that Facebook would start charging a monthly fee. Everybody flew into a frenzy, and posts circulated, “I will NEVER pay Facebook a dime!” There were petitions demanding that Facebook stay free.

Why should it stay free? Is Zuckerberg running a charity? Where’s his funding supposed to come from? Giant servers aren’t cheap, neither are software engineers.

Nothing invented by man is free. Everything is paid for by someone. If you’re not a paying customer, then you’re someone’s guest. If we are not the customers, then who is the customer? The advertisers are the customers. We are the commodity. Our time, attention and personal information is being sold to pay for our use of the Facebook environment.

Well, that was okay with me. I understood and accepted that. I liked Facebook.

The next issue is the marvelous freedom of speech. At first, Zuckerberg was on the side of freedom to a pretty amazing degree, even to announcing he would tolerate Holocaust debate on the site, but that was put a stop to at the next level. The ADL ordered advertisers to pull his funding for a month, and he got back in line. The ones who actually pay for the site get to decide what’s going to be on it. The ungrateful Facebook users were unwilling to pay even a dime for something they were using and enjoying every day.

You can’t expect things to be free of charge and stay free of control. So, here came the control and it got gradually worse for years, until now we have Facebook choosing a side on health issues and silencing dissent, and teaching us the correct response to having our cities burned.

I was never a giant Trump fan, and yet there is some lingering sentimentality about apple pies, Mom, The Star Spangled Banner, etc. Seems to me there’s a glamour about the office of POTUS that should entitle the holder to a certain degree of respect. At least people should be allowed to listen to what he has to say.

Wait, doesn’t that sound a little funny? If it was some unwashed nobody, “We should at least be able to hear what he has to say.”

It seemed strange to me why Trump would submit to that. He is at least an influential man with a lot of money. He has his own websites where I’m sure his fans would be glad to go to get updates. Why doesn’t he post on them? If he continues to hang around Facebook and Twitter despite the repeated slaps, that just seems to reinforce the idea that those sites are it, and there’s really no alternative besides just staying around and meekly continuing to try.

I also have a scoff for people who whine about “censorship on big tech”. Being big doesn’t make you public. The rich people who control the big sites have as much right as anyone else to determine how their GUESTS should behave. If you don’t like it, stop being their guest.

If someone comes into my living room and annoys me with his opinions and I throw him out, that’s not censorship. That’s me keeping the atmosphere the way I like it in my own territory. Big tech sites have as much right as I do to enforce whatever terms of service they want. And then I’ve heard people who SAY they are on the side of freedom and limited government, wanting to get the rules changed to make Facebook tolerate their opinions! If we have a government so coercive that they can take Facebook’s liberty away, they might take mine away, too. If has to give equal time to opposing voices, maybe someday will have to do the same thing, and I wouldn’t like that.

I used to hang around message boards in olden days. Sometimes on a board about a specific topic, where everyone’s chatting away happily about the designated topic, someone new joins and starts shooting her mouth off. An argument gets started, a moderator steps in to muffle the troublemaker, and the troublemaker yells, “This is America! I have freedom of speech!” But actually– no. There is freedom of speech on the sidewalk, but not in someone else’s yard. There is freedom of speech on the internet, but not on someone else’s website which is not your website and you haven’t paid for.

Maybe the problem is that some people equate Facebook and Twitter with “the internet”. The internet is free. Facebook and Twitter are private. Facebook and Twitter are to the internet what cafes and bars are to the street. You can do as you like on the sidewalk, but you can’t go into Starbucks and start preaching, singing opera, or jumping on the furniture. They let you in only if you agree to act the way they expect you to.

Anybody can buy their own home on the internet. It’s $14 a year. You get a domain, “”, and a domain is just like it sounds. It’s your demesne. It’s your private property. That’s your living room. Your home is your castle. If you violate the law of the land, then a judge can issue a court order and yank your website, but in America at least there’s due process before your right to freedom of expression is taken away from you. So, basically, run your mouth! On YOUR domain.

You also have to pay for monthly hosting, which can sometimes be as little as $4 a month although that’s probably not with a host who will support your privacy. Don’t need to say anything inflammatory? Then you can use a cheap host! Behave yourself. Be a good, quiet citizen. If enough people do that, then nobody’s paying for the hosts who support privacy, and voila, pretty soon, no more hosts who support privacy. Do you remember the olden days when internet access always came with a free website? Whoops, I mean “a website that comes included in the fee” 🙂 But people didn’t bother to learn how to use their websites and nowadays it’s rare to find internet service that includes a site. You’re expected to use “free” social media profiles instead.

And yet understanding all this!

I still loved Facebook and would have stayed. Facebook fills a need. It’s a wonderful service for its original intention, which, as I understand it, is posting status updates about what we had for lunch and sharing pictures of kids and pets with our relatives. That’s all I ever wanted to do there. It was fun. It was cozy. Everyone I knew was there. If I go there to cry, a dozen people tell me it’s going to be okay. If I post about my accomplishments, a dozen people cheer and pat me on the back. I can effortlessly keep up with the people whose lives I’m following.

But then came the very last straw.

Someone commented about my mother’s Facebook profile, and I remembered that she had one. I had set it up for her some six or eight years ago at her request, but she hadn’t looked at it since. She had long since forgotten it existed. I asked if she still wanted it, and she said no, to go ahead and delete it.

I tried to sign in as her. I still had the password. Facebook wanted to send me a code by email to confirm. I entered the code. They wanted to send me a code by text message. I entered that, too. They still didn’t believe me and wanted A PHOTO OF HER DRIVER’S LICENSE.


And that’s the end. There is no chance of getting that. She can barely talk any more, certainly doesn’t know how to take a picture with her phone, let alone how to send it to me. She would never consent to such a thing anyway. So that’s the end of that, and “her” Facebook profile will probably be there until doomsday.

That made me worry. Does Facebook really think it has a right to someone’s government issued ID to confirm identity? I checked the internet and sure enough, it’s actually been going on for a while. Apparently the most common triggers for “verification” are either making a political post that goes viral, or if someone manually flags a profile. People get locked out of their accounts and that’s it. There’s no appeal. You can’t exactly talk to a customer service representative– we don’t PAY for Facebook, remember, so we’re not customers.

Either cough up images of your ID or you’re locked out.

We all have our limits and that one is over mine. It’s not going to happen. I’m not coughing up PAPERS, PLEASE, to some stupid website to regain access to a profile that I created years ago with only an email address.

At that point, I felt urgency. I’d been on Facebook for years, posting every detail and a thousand photos. The thought of being locked out, and yet all that material still up and visible to others as “Janel” as if they represented me, and not even being able to delete it, was unthinkable.

Boy, it hurt, but “my” Facebook profile had to go IMMEDIATELY.

I had so completely relaxed into Facebook by then that there were dozens of “friends” for whom I had no other contact information. I sent out a bunch of messages asking for said contact– while worrying because I know sending out a bunch of PMs is “potentially annoying behavior” that can get you flagged!

I had a sense of racing against the clock. I wanted to get it done quickly and get out of here before Facebook’s algorithm catches me.

Out of all the people I knew in real life, but wasn’t sure off the top of my head I had a phone number or email address for, maybe five responded.

Yay for having friends.

Yay for Facebook’s handy tool for downloading everything! It allowed me to download a 2 gb file with all the pictures, comments, replies, messages, from my entire history of participation. I checked it enough to feel like, yes, that’s everything, or at least that’s “more than enough”, then pulled the plug.

Actually there was a sleep in the middle of this operation. I was locked out of my mother’s profile in the late evening, looked into the problem a little bit, realized “I need to get off Facebook immediately”, and then went to bed. I woke up in the morning with an ominous sense of dread and a pang of regret, because, “I love Facebook! I don’t want to leave! I’m going to be so lonely!”

I’ve always felt sorry for those losers who post on Facebook that they’re leaving Facebook for some snotty reason or other, telling us that Facebook is soooo stupid– ON FACEBOOK. Because without Facebook they don’t have a platform. There’s plenty of sites where you can howl into space but nobody will hear you. So they get in their parting shot, leave Facebook with a prideful huff, then vanish down the memory hole.

I didn’t want to be one of those people. Forgotten. No more audience for my adorable photos. Stuck trying to keep up email conversations, wondering if people are getting tired of me and wishing I would quit so that they wouldn’t feel obligated to write back. Or they don’t write back and the conversation dies and I never hear from them again– although it’s usually me who is guilty of not replying.

Well, I got out of bed, walked over to the computer and deleted my Facebook.

Now what?

What will I do instead? That’s the dilemma and challenge. It is the friends themselves who are valuable. If friends are valuable, then I’m just going to have to put in some honest effort to communicate. I’m going to have to think of something. Friends and family are important and we must find a way to communicate.

I’ve been making more phone calls. I’ve been writing more emails. Not very many more. But I’ve been trying. For my birthday I got two texts and one phone call, which is rather cold and silent compared to the piles of FB comments that I’d usually get just because Facebook friends (and relative strangers) type a greeting into the birthday box to make it go away. Hey. It was still nice.

But then, have I said happy birthday to anyone this year besides my immediate family? Do I even know anyone’s birthday besides immediate family? Maybe I need a birthday list on the wall like the olden days. Maybe I need to put in some EFFORT.

For my birthday, I had a couple of kids and one wonderful husband with me in real life and we ate cake! That makes me the luckiest person alive!

I haven’t shared any photos of the occasion because I still haven’t figured out a convenient way to do it. I have my website, of course, but sharing quite everything to the world at large might be a bit much. If I really want to live by my own advice and use only services that I have a right to use, I’d have to either password protect a page, or email the photos straight to those people whom I think might want them.


It’s such a bother. It’s not easy and smooth and fun like on Facebook.

I wish I could have stayed.

Now. If you want to get technical (and I love getting technical), Facebook rejected me, not the other way around. I hadn’t noticed their terms of service changed, because, like most people, I had been agreeing to the updates without reading them. The latest Facebook TOS says you have to use your legal name. If you don’t agree, then you’re not complying with the terms and you’re obligated to remove your profile and go away. Otherwise you’re lying, stealing, and breaking a voluntary contract.

There is one interesting Facebook alternative called MeWe. It claims to care about your privacy and offers levels of membership. Do we trust Weinstein more than Zuckerberg? MeWe is endorsed by Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet as the rest of us know it, i.e. the World Wide Web. That’s the www part of the URL and was a STUNNING leap forward in communication, a total world changer, allowing ALL of us the visibility of all of us.

MeWe’s TOS includes permission to call yourself by any handle you prefer. That’s something, at least. So I go there when I’m particularly missing Facebook. There are kittens to giggle over and funnies to share with the three people I know who have accounts. I can post about my breakfast. Will MeWe succeed? That depends on whether it gets customers who care enough about freedom and privacy to pay for subscriptions. I would if I had extra money, just to make the point, but I already have an online presence and that’s enough spending for now.

Update: I made a Facebook profile. Some local organizations don’t even do mailing lists any more, they only have a Facebook page, probably because it’s easy. In order to get the updates, I made a profile, consisting only of my name and my link. I’m not treated well. If I comment, even on family, my comments get held for moderation. So– NOPE. Then I won’t comment. Phooey on you. I’m just here to look, kinda like walking by the party and looking in the windows.

Whatever. This is my home, HERE. Welcome to my blog.






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