Against Facebook

By Razib Khan | December 14, 2011 3:57 pm

You’ve probably read The New York Times article, The Facebook Resisters. One of the “resisters” struck me as kind of weird:

Tyson Balcomb quit Facebook after a chance encounter on an elevator. He found himself standing next to a woman he had never met — yet through Facebook he knew what her older brother looked like, that she was from a tiny island off the coast of Washington and that she had recently visited the Space Needle in Seattle.

“I knew all these things about her, but I’d never even talked to her,” said Mr. Balcomb, a pre-med student in Oregon who had some real-life friends in common with the woman. “At that point I thought, maybe this is a little unhealthy.”

Is this really novel? Haven’t you heard all about people on some occasions and just happened never to run into them? I think the big deal is confusing social networking technologies as a qualitative difference when they’re quantitative. They extend, they don’t transform. And it isn’t as if Facebook is special. You can find all sorts of things about Tyson Balcomb online.

MORE ABOUT: Facebook
  • peter

    Dont have a FB account, never will. After 7 years working for Law enforcement I have dealt with multitudes of “stalkerbook ” issues. NEVER with a good outcome. Yes there is a lot of online info on people . Why would you volunteer even more? In the military it is called Target Analysis!

  • Darkseid

    yes, i don’t think it’s any different than real life. i don’t have a FB account because i don’t like socializing in real life so i don’t want to do it online either.

  • Dan

    No Facebook here either. If Zuckerberg wants to know who I know and where I’ve been, he needs to make a monetary offer.

  • Sasha

    That’s why i have only 100 friends and i know them all. I don’t add ppl that are strangers to me. I even limit the fb stories from my friends so i can only read what i want to. Anyway facebook is really good web service that helps ppl to communicate easier, and most important is Free.

  • Bruno Coelho

    He is timid, and knowing things about her don’t change that fact. The excess of comunication is something that the people who live in big cities have to manage. In the long run, some informations are more important than others. Be strategic.

  • Douglas Knight

    Here’s a hypothesis for the difference: pictures. The quote even says that he knew what her older brother looked like. That implies that he would have seen a picture of her even through ordinary gossip, but I suspect facebook inundated him with pictures of her. It made her like a celebrity.

  • Mustapha Mond

    Facebook (and Myspace before it) is a truly lame gossip system aimed at chatty teenage girls and the increasing number of superannuated adolescent males who emulate them. I’ve never used it and I never will.

  • Cathy

    The only thing we continue to use Facebook for is organizing social gatherings in real life. I’ve blocked all the stupid little games (with the exception of Words with Friends, which no one will play with me any more because I whupped their butts too hard), and my status updates rarely involve anything more complicated than “I love my job!” and liking funny cat pictures.

  • Shecky R

    well, I’ll join the fray as someone who is registered with Facebook, but has never considered it either user-friendly nor trustworthy (just crappy) — I joined it late only for information-gathering purposes and not for social-networking; would love to see it put out of business, but realize that won’t happen.

  • Kiwiguy

    I’ve found it reasonably useful for maintaining contacts with friends overseas, re-connecting with people I’d lost contact with after intermediate school (1991) and High School (1996), Uni (2001) and a convenient way to share photos.

    When I first joined in about May 2007 I found it quite addictive and would check regularly to see what people were posting, what groups they’d joined etc. I’d post that I was about to go watch Transformers or watch Mad Men.

    Now I check it about once a week at most. It can be a bit strange seeing someones social network at the click of a button & I imagine it could be quite stressful for teenagers trying to keep up status wise.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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