Is quitting Facebook the new "I quit television"? Is making a big public stink about how you refuse to take part in social media essentially the same act as making sure everyone knows you eschew mass media, because lord knows you can't toss out your television/delete your Facebook account without announcing it to the world?
According to NYU assistant professor Laura Portwood-Stacer, who recently examined why people leave Facebook, how they communicate their rejection, and how their abstention comes across, quitting Facebook has become "a new, elitist form of 'conspicuous non-consumption,' on par with refusing television."
In other words, it's pretty hard to quit Facebook … without sounding like an asshole.
The thing is, it's pretty rare that someone just closes up shop at Facebook without making some sort of grand announcement about it. In my experience, it's the same with television -- most people who deliberately choose not to own a TV seem to go out of their way to mention this fact on a regular basis.
Many Facebook refusers actually revel in their difference from the mainstream, seeing it as a mark of distinction, superior taste, and identification with an elite social stratum. This is consistent with (the) finding that families who chose not to consume television share a belief that they were iconoclasts, and for the most part, they relished that role.
So, how do you quit without bugging the crap out of your friends and family by implying that your hip no-Facebook lifestyle is infinitely cooler than their lame status updates? Can you still explain your motives for quitting, like Stir writer Nicole did recently (or NOT quitting, as Jeanne did) without coming off as holier-than-thou?
I think the answer is that of course you can, you just need to resist the urge to lord it over people as though your personal opinion of Facebook makes you a better person. Remember, as Time writer Dan Fletcher once wrote,
Hipsters manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity.
Finally, before you decide to quit Facebook in order to make a grand stand against the evils of social media, consider this question from Portwood-Stacer:
Can refusal make a persuasive point about one's values where media consumption is concerned, or does it just end up making one look like a giant douchebag?
I say it all depends on how you decide to loudly promote -- or quietly carry out -- your decision.
Do you think it's annoying when people make a big deal about quitting Facebook?
Image via Keep Calm Studio