Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Forgive Me, Father, I Don’t Use Facebook

Forgive Me, Father, I Don’t Use Facebook

By Dennis D. McDonald

My social media tools of choice include Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.  I’ve used Facebook periodically but don’t enjoy it.

I am well aware that Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla of social networking.

Recently I ran into two situations related to my non-use of Facebook.  

First, Robert Scoble posted one of his newsletters on Google+.  I haven’t seen him there for a while. I commented that it was nice to see him on Google+ since I don’t use Facebook.  One of his responses was to remind me that everyone he deals with is on Facebook and that, according to them, Google+ posts are “junk.”

I’ve heard the numbers before,  i.e., that there are orders of magnitude more Facebook than Google+ users. My usual reaction is that I’m not after numbers per se, nor am I primarily interested in social media as a broadcast medium.  (Comparing my interest with Scoble’s is laughable, of course, given his fame and recognition.)

The second recent Facebook incident involved a posted link in Google+ by tech pundit Alex Howard on censorship referring to a Huffington Post article he had written.  I went to the linked post, read it, and prepared a comment related to European censorship of the Internet.  But — drat! — I was reminded again that Huffington Post requires users to have a Facebook membership to post comments.

I returned to Google+ and complained via a comment to Alex that I couldn’t post a comment on his Huffington Post article without a Facebook membership.  (Apparently  I had complained about this once before with Alex.)

His response was to delete my comment, accuse me of trolling, say that I knew he has no control over the policy — and he reminded me that most American adults have Facebook accounts.

The “trolling” comment aside, the reference to Facebook member numbers does rankle.  So why can’t I just shut up and use Facebook like everyone else?

That’s a reasonable question. My response is partly due to available time and partly to my professional interests.

My consulting interests are fairly specialized both professionally and geographically. Social media are useful but not the only tools for prospecting and communicating around my consulting interests, a lot of which I channel through my blog.  

This is not intended as criticism of those who find Facebook useful for publishing and marketing.  After all, “Some of my best friends use Facebook.”

I understand the numbers. If you’re interested in the numbers you go where you need to go.  Folks promoting personal and other brands realized long ago that the concept of “engagement” via a “community” with customers is secondary to “driving sales and eyeballs.”

That’s just not what I’m interested in doing right now.

Huffington Post’s decision to use Facebook for user identification was linked to a legitimate desire to reduce the costs of comment moderation.  Facebook has a large proportion of members who are real and who use their real names. It was thought that would reduce the vicious comments and attacks associated with anonymous commenting on Huffington Post.  I understand that.

Still, the impact of restricting comments to Facebook users is that Huffington Post reduces nasty comments but loses out on some potentially interesting ideas popping up in the comments.  

Again, it’s all about the numbers. But the “everybody uses it” argument still isn’t that convincing to me. 

Copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald

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