“I Despise Facebook”

That’s Tom Hodgkinson talking, not me. (My feelings about Fakebook aren’t that strong.) Hodgkinson has a long and interesting article in the Technology section of the Guardian Unlimited that sets out his many reasons for reviling the vastly popular — what? — tool, environment, fad?

His points are, roughly:

  • It’s unnecessary. Why would you need to connect to people through the mediation of “a bunch of supergeeks in California”?
  • It’s isolating. The connection is more imagined than real.
  • It perverts true friendship, encouraging lying about oneself and competition as to the number of “friends” one has.
  • It’s got incredible mass appeal. If everyone’s doing it, and I mean everyone, then he doesn’t want to.
  • It’s an expression of a “particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism.” Capitalism creates the illusion of individuality in order to make money. The owner, Thiel, is a really right wing enthusiast. All of which, I think, comes down to his last point which is…
  • It’s profoundly cynical and exploitive. Under a banner of freedom millions of sheep are shovelling personal data into the system that then feeds them back ads (and may do who knows what else with the data).

Read the whole essay, whether you agree with his view or not, because Facebook isn’t going away in a hurry and whether you’re in or not you’re going to need to think about it at some point.


  1. Thank you for pointing this out. He dislikes Facebook for largely different reasons than I do. I expect he doesn’t use it (or at least, not that much), whereas I am still there, checking in regularly. The things I don’t like are gradually outweighing the things I do like. Some day I will explain more fully.


  2. Simon, you and I talked about the coming facebook backlash in an email last year. Shall we declare this the beginning? :)

    For me, it’s got nothing to do with functionality. My number one complaint is that FB is a closed network, and provides nothing of value outside FB. It’s a modern day AOL. And that closed aspect, philosophy wise, goes against everything I believe the Internet should offer.

  3. @Steve “It’s a modern day AOL”
    Stephen Fry has a nice take on this

  4. I’m not convinced that FB has staying power. It might have a bit more durability than some of the fad-ish predecessors, but ultimately, the limitations mentioned above (and those not mentioned above) will combine with the next big thing to make FB passe.