Evaluating Social Media

I’m trying to decide whether to leave Facebook (again).  I shut down my account in early 2011, and I was doing fine without it.  Then a friend started sending messages to an extra account, set up as a joke, as her primary contact for me.  This joke account, which boasts three whole friends, subsequently became useful as a way to feel more connected during an extended trip abroad.  During this adventure, I have posted pictures and had some interaction with the friend who used it for messaging. I’ve been tempted to repurpose the joke account as my real one, add friends, and rebuild my network.  However, the trip ends in three days, and my convenient excuse to use facebook ends.

Why do I frame using this particular form of social media as requiring an excuse? Ah, here begins the complication.  All of the usual reasons to eschew facebook are part of my internal landscape.  It can suck up a good deal of time, depleting productivity. Like all social media, it can become addictive.  Additionally, facebook elicits some of the worst social behaviors from people, and the privacy concerns remain troubling.  But I have more reasons to avoid facebook. Their platform was an important tool for a painful set of interpersonal interactions – a long-ended situation high schoolers would name “drama.” If the medium is the message, then facebook is a bully’s paradise.  

Yet, I have used facebook for positive connection, and I see its value.  My real question becomes whether the positive aspects outweigh the negative, whether the bad feelings are more important than the potential.