I have been eschewing Facebook for about four months, now. I have popped back on from time to time to see if my feelings about it may have changed. Originally, I had only intended to take a one-week break between Christmas and New Year’s, just to be more productive. But I found that I loved being away. What I have learned is that it is simply my own wiring that tends to make me shy away from Facebook.
As an INTJ personality type, there are certain personality traits that I have that Facebook really violates. (If you are unfamiliar with the MBTI scale, you may find it fascinating to visit Personality Hacker — my favorite MBTI site — and take their free online test for yourself.)
In short, an INTJ personality type is an Introvert who tends to experience the world around them based on an examination of the processes people use. We analyze systems. We plan extensively and spend loads of time learning, sometimes at the expense of doing. We can be very private, very closed off, even seeming rude or standoffish. But once we let you in, we’re fiercely loyal, even vulnerable.
Based on this very rough sketch, here are some reasons why Facebook — and most social media channels — rubs INTJs the wrong way. You may disagree with some or all of these points, particularly if you are not an INTJ, but some may resonate with you.
Facebook tends to lead to violations of privacy, a very prized commodity of my personality type. Sure, we all agree to the Terms of Service when we sign up. But Facebook’s deliberate design encourages an openness that is more than I care to grant people. I can filter and limit access in various ways — and believe me, I do — but Facebook treats those actions as counter to their purposes. If I make myself visible to only a select group of people, I have found that Facebook intentionally limits the visibility of my post even to those persons. In short, they penalize people who are selective about who they want to see their content.
Facebook refuses to allow anonymous or pseudonym accounts. They have even impugned the character of persons who want that option, only backing down amid protest. From a marketing and profitability standpoint, I get it. But that is not my concern. So I have a choice: play it their way, or don’t play.
Facebook and other types of social media allow for easy accessibility. This is unacceptable for me. I decided long ago that my phone, email, and other channels of contact to me were mine to control. I can determine who gets through, if and when I will answer, and if and when I call back. Facebook deliberately works to undermine that, even quietly replacing the email address you choose to publish when signing up with one of their own. You may or may not get Messages you are sent. People are notified if and when you read what they send — an option that Apple’s messaging service has, but allows you to turn off.
Facebook complicates relationships. It does not allow me to keep “the streams” uncrossed. Family, friends, mere acquaintances, workmates, classmates, and many other types of people all co-mingle on a list of “Friends,” when many of them certainly are not. There is an expectation that I must accept the friend request of almost anyone with whom I have spoken and will likely ever speak to again. I prefer to curate my own relationships, and Facebook makes it very difficult to do this.
Facebook prevents closure. If you have a rift with a friend, leave a relationship, or just need to take a break from someone due to some awkward circumstance, you can not slip away in the manner of your own choosing — whether quietly or with express dignity. There is a web of mutual friendships constantly updated. You have to not only “unfriend” this person, but also block them, lest Facebook encourage them to “friend” you again via their People You May Know feature. Even when blocked, your presence is conspicuous by the vacuum it leaves. If you are tagged by a mutual friend, your name appears, but no link. Certainly, there are analogues to this in real life, but who needs more of these in a concentrated, constantly-refreshed environment?
Facebook wastes my time. True, it is more accurate to say that I waste my own time. But it is also very much true that Facebook and many other businesses deliberately research how to keep people engaged, mesmerized, and coming back frequently. The methods they use are not necessarily sinister, but they are effective. In the spirit of taking personal responsibility for my own life, my conclusion is that I must limit my exposure to Facebook.
The rub is that INTJs already tend to isolate themselves. We hole up and work on projects, forgetting to eat, shave, or see friends. We love the isolation, but it does not do well for us long-term. We atrophy due to this lack of contact. Like almost everyone else, we also love the quick-hit high of approval when (certain) people respond to what we post. So there is a struggle, of sorts. For me, it is a net sum game. There may be times in my life when Facebook poses less of a threat/hindrance. In those times, I may re-engage more often.
But most of the time, I probably won’t. Your mileage may vary.