So far, 218 people have joined a mass suicide club before saying goodbye. A new epidemic has swept the online world. The ‘Facebook Mass Suicide Club’ is a Facebook group that urges users to join and cancel their accounts before Facebook “consumes [them]”.
Users are dropping like flies as more and more people deactivate their accounts. The reasons to deactivate are many; for the young university crowd, the reasons are mostly relationship problems. Befriending exes and receiving pokes or messages from admirers can be extremely threatening to a young teenage relationship. “I ended up deactivating my account so that I could relieve myself from the accusing questions, ‘Who’s Sarah?’, ‘Why did she send you a gift?’, ‘Did you reply?’“ says Naji El Qaq, who then reactivated his account after breaking up with his girlfriend.
Another popular reason is the ever-common ‘it-became-too-addictive’ syndrome. Layal Rkain ended up deactivating permanently because she started wasting too much time on Facebook. Adham Harb is one of the few people who has never made an account; he believes that everything online is being surveyed and monitored at all times for malicious intent. “I just didn’t want to buy into the hype,” says Harb. “Besides, I don’t want my information out there, hanging for everyone to see like dirty laundry.” Harb is right in that your information is and always will be out there once you put it online. Even after you deactivate, or permanently delete your account, which is extremely hard to do (wikihow.com has a good tutorial), your information is still there and Facebook is still trying to sell it to third parties for marketing purposes.
I asked on Twitter if anyone had deactivated Facebook and I received one particularly intriguing response from Bilal El Houri: “I wish I [could] delete it, if only I didn’t manage Dhafer Youssef’s FB group.” (Dhafer Youssef is a well-known oud player and singer.) This begs an interesting question: is there life after Facebook death?
There are definitely many alternatives to remain efficient online without exposing too much about ourselves. Twitter can be used for advertising and promoting as well as gathering information. LinkedIn can be used to network professionally. DeviantArt is a great tool site for displaying and finding art. Flickr is an efficient way to “share your photos with the world”, not to mention YouTube for videos. Blogs, like WordPress or Blogspot, tend to have a more professional and broader audience, as opposed to Facebook notes. The issue of finding old friends and keeping in touch remains. For those who don’t like the old-fashioned method of e-mailing, there are local networking sites that might be more efficient in finding your friends. There is a social networking site called Leb961 that can be used to find fellow Lebanese. To name a few more, there’s Petrabook for Jordan, Tuenti for Spain, Skyrock for France, StudiVz Group for Germany, Qzone for China, and even Ikhwanbook for the Muslim Brotherhood’s followers in Egypt and beyond.
So, to answer the previously posed question, yes, there is life after Facebook death, but we still need to think about what it is we want out of the online world. If it is publicity we seek, then what good is it using an alternative if the rest of the world is still using Facebook? Then again, if we are looking for something more specific or professional, perhaps it is best to use an alternative.
This article was previously published in Hibr Newspaper.