The earliest known version of the idiom “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was written by the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury in 1677, though it was concerned with horses and feathers:
“The last Dictate of the Judgement, concerning the Good or Bad, that may follow on any Action, is not properly the whole Cause, but the last Part of it, and yet may be said to produce the Effect necessarily, in such Manner as the last Feather may be said to break a Horses Back, when there were so many laid on before as there want but that one to do it.”
For the past few years, we at Damn Interesting have been hearing from scores of long-time fans who were under the mistaken impression that we had ceased all operations years ago. These fans are typically delighted to hear that a) we are still writing and podcasting; and b) there is a wealth of new content since they last visited. When we ask them what caused the assumption of our demise, they invariably cite the fact that our posts disappeared from their Facebook news feeds.
This trend roughly coincides with Facebook’s introduction of “boosting” for pages; in this new model, according to the stats we can see, Facebook stopped showing our posts to approximately 94% of our followers, demanding a fee to “boost” each post into an ad, which would make it visible to more of our audience. We lost contact with tens of thousands of fans practically overnight. We don’t mind paying for a service if it is valuable, but we absolutely don’t want to reach our audience by buying ad space on Facebook. Yuck. But no other option is given to reach the many people who previously followed our posts, and who presumably want to continue to do so.
We established our Facebook page in 2008 as the fledgling social media site was gaining in currency, and we continued to maintain our page on the side, mostly as an afterthought. In the intervening years Facebook evolved from a dubious curiosity into a megacorporation that is firmly in the service of bad ideas. In a move that feels long overdue, we at Damn Interesting are abandoning all interactions and connections with Facebook.
We really should have done this back when it was revealed that Facebook used the ubiquitous embedded “Like on Facebook” buttons to follow people’s movements around the web without their knowledge or consent. We should have done this when Facebook literally toyed with people’s emotions by showing some people more positive stories in their newsfeeds, and others more negative stories, to see how it would affect their emotional states. We should have done this when it was revealed that Facebook allowed advertisers to target ads to people who expressed interest in topics such as “Jew hater.” We should have done this so many times before.
To the tens of thousands of fans who follow us on Facebook: our sincere apologies. You’re probably not seeing most of our posts there, anyway. For the few who do still see them, we no longer wish to share content on Facebook which might cause people to spend time there. We hope you’ll stay in touch via one of our multiple non-Facebook options.
Our reasons for leaving are not entirely abstract. We’re sure many of you, like us, have experienced first-hand how Facebook gives people license to be their worst selves. It can elevate mere differences of political opinion into anger and hostility, pushing friends and family into extreme views, turning loved ones into ugly caricatures of their former selves. Perhaps you have even regretted some of your own posts there; the Facebook interface is designed to make it difficult to engage in good-faith disagreements. It gives undeserved forum to misinformation, disinformation, and hate. Using Facebook has been scientifically demonstrated to cause depression. Facebook subtracts from the quality of the world at a magnitude seldom seen in history, and we’ll all be better off when it goes away.
Yes, we know Facebook is not the only harmful corporation on Earth, but sweet-jeepers-boy-howdy it is a blood-curdling fart in the elevator of existence. Some call it a “necessary evil,” but if that’s the case let’s do all we can to make it unnecessary.
There is a now-infamous chat log between Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and a friend of his in college, wherein Zuckerberg offers to share private user information, and sums up his opinion of the people who use Facebook as “dumb f***s.” We must reluctantly concede the point. We must truly be dumb f***s to have waited this long to rid ourselves of the hot garbage juice that is Facebook.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve had any particularly unpleasant Facebook experiences. Perhaps it will prove cathartic.
Goodbye Facebook, but not farewell.