Advice From the Trenches

FaceOffbook: A family argues about social media

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Dear C and Dr. B;

This really makes me angry. I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and a large part of that is posting photos. My wife and daughter think Facebook is “icky” and “a violation of personal privacy” although they both use other forms of social media, like Instagram. They will not let me post any photos of them on Facebook so my page ends up being lots of pictures of me. I look like a narcissist as it’s all a photo gallery of me, me, me! I don’t know how to deal with this. We have already discussed it to death, but nothing gets resolved. When I ignore them and post photos containing them anyway, they get really mad and they make me remove them. I really don’t see why it differs from the sites my daughter uses where she’s posting photos of herself every 10 seconds?? 

Defaced Dad

Dr. B says: We each have a fantasy of what lies on the other side of our magic mirror devices. Each social media platform advertises to these fantasies. One says our images are safe because they disappear but since people can screenshot, that’s not really true. Others use other false reassurances. 

If humans were rational creatures, your wife would be right and we shouldn’t use social media at all, but alas, we are emotional creatures and social media is here to stay despite the consequences. So rather than sulk, why don’t you just create an old fashioned year-in-review photo book or calendar for close friends and family? More than likely, they will appreciate a real old fashioned book that they can hold in their hands.

 C says: Your family IS right, Dad – and there’s more than one reason. 

For your daughter this could be the big deterrent – Facebook isn’t cool anymore. There may be some teens who still use it, but they prefer for the most part to use a variety of newer apps to connect in different ways. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are more popular and have become household names. Teens love to try out new apps they hear about from friends, see in ads, or find on the trending list at the app store. When your daughter says Facebook is icky, that’s probably because she is seeing it on the same level as poodle skirts and AOL.

But your wife probably has other reasons in mind. Here’s a headline for you: in 2018, it was revealed that the U.K. based campaign strategy firm Cambridge Analytica used 50 million Facebook users’ personal data without their permission. A lot of people tried to deactivate their accounts when they heard this and that’s when things got interesting, because here’s what happens if you try to do delete a Facebook page – NOTHING. I can tell you this from personal experience. Mind you, I am sure it is eventually possible to delete a Facebook account … but I gave up after the first dozen or so twists, turns and dead ends. I did a Google search and discovered that literally thousands of other Facebook users have had the same problem. Facebook is part of an ecosystem of apps, which makes the decision to delete far more complicated. Dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge, and services like Spotify can all use Facebook to create user profiles. Once you have a FB account, it’s a bit like having an invasive plant taking over your yard – the roots and tendrils establish runners far from the original plant. Pluck one from the earth, and you still have dozens more to find.

I get it, Dad – you see Facebook as an innocent online photo album. But just because you don’t see the difference between your favorite app and Instagram doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Facebook also has a reputation for making victims easy marks for stalkers, allowing political propaganda, and looking the other way as unverified conspiracies theories repeat themselves.  

But the real issue here is a respect for personal preference, AND the right to privacy. If you are concerned about looking like a narcissist, then you are not unaware of public opinion – if you care about what people think of you, don’t you imagine your wife and daughter have similar concerns? If they don’t want to be on Facebook, then back off. It’s not your choice to make.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

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