Until a few months ago, I was an active and happy Facebook user, and had been for a long time.
Following an initial burst of promiscuous friend adding, which pushed me above the 3,000-friends level, I had painstakingly culled my circle until it was a more manageable hundred-plus souls whose acquaintance I truly valued. I enjoyed being able to keep up with this carefully chosen few — family members, former co-workers, past acquaintances with whom I reconnected, and a smattering of philosophical fellow travelers.
Many in that last group were individuals I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know, even online, were it not for Facebook. One example (and not meaning to slight others): Robert Higgs. I’ve never met Dr. Higgs in person, but I’ve admired both his intellect and his skill in communicating ideas (l recommend his book, Crisis and Leviathan, to anyone with an interest in war and and its relation to the growth of the state). I came to appreciate him even more after we became Facebook friends. His communiqués from his enviable life-in-retirement in the Yucatan became as welcome to me as his observations on the metastasizing American police state, and I secretly glowed whenever he liked or commented favorably on something I posted.
And I did post a lot, about politics as well as current enthusiasms (e.g., Stoicism, ukuleles, Serge Gainsbourg), along with more personal stuff (e.g., bragging on my beautiful and brilliant daughter). It was both social and intellectual outlet for me.
Now that I’ve been shut out of Facebook, for what must be one of the dumbbest reasons imaginable, I don’t hear from Dr. Higgs any more, or from most of my other treasured contacts there. Yes, there is the upside: I’ve been able to reclaim, for more productive uses, the vast swaths of time I used to squander in Mark Zuckerberg’s playground. Still, as someone who is mostly otherwise a social isolate, I miss my friends there. There’s no other way to put it.
So what happened? Roll the stupidity:
One day I was trying to share something to Facebook from YouTube (some inconsequential French yé-yé music video, as I hazily recall). I kept screwing it up somehow. Three or four times I tried to paste the link, would mess up, then try again.
In the middle of my fumbling a message popped up saying Facebook had detected suspicious activity in my account, and advised that I would not be able to access it again until I entered a code number which was being sent to my phone. However … the phone number Facebook was sending it to was a land line (no texting capability), and one I no longer even had.
Now, you could say the stupidity was on my part, for not updating the phone number associated with my Facebook account. But what kind of online outfit in 2017 offers zero alternative options in such a situation, such as receiving a code via email? And why would Facebook assume that among its millions of users there were no dinosaurs such as I, with non-text-capable phones at the time they registered their accounts?
Even this wouldn’t be a big deal if Facebook made it easy to contact a human being to explain the problem. But it doesn’t. I could not find a support number or other obvious way to reach a person who might help, even after opening a new account and navigating through all the unsupportive Facebook support pages. At that point I gave up.
As for that new Facebook account, I don’t plan to use it. I don’t wish to do the work to try to reassemble my friends from the old one. Moreover, I’ve lost access to years’ worth of posts which I can never recover; additionally, my old account was linked administratively to several fan and business pages I maintained, so that’s gone, too.
That’s the story. I’m done with Facebook, cut off and made a refugee because of a ridiculously dumb flaw in its system. Until one of Zuckerberg’s minions reaches out to me to restore access to my old account, complete with all of my accumulated stuff there, this blog will take its place as a channel for my musings, personal updates and occasional stabs at creative exposition. My friends are welcome to contact me through it, as well. Here’s the the contact link.