Why I Don’t Use Facebook

John C Dvorak is s pillar in the “personal computing world, and has been for several decades; I think his take on Facebook is interesting, but for me I just don’t see anything that Facebook does that I need — it seems more to me to be a place where people who wished they had a life spend their time.


Facebook is basically AOL with a different layout and all the same retro problems.

People are always baffled by the fact that I don’t use Facebook. I don’t care much about Facebook any more than I cared about MySpace and LiveJournal before it. In almost every way, these subsystems are too retro for my taste.

Let me explain.

The world began with online services like the Source and Compuserve. They then evolved into a myriad of BBS systems and then AOL was created. AOL became the kingpin and along came the Internet. The Internet had the versatility that no other system had—you could do whatever you wanted with it. You could start a website about your cat. You could do a storefront. You could do anything that came into your head.

A lot of people still preferred the warm and cozy confines of AOL, and it continued to exist until it was clear that its growth was over. It then zigged and zagged in all the wrong ways. I concluded that AOL should have evolved into a MySpace-like system and then into Facebook.

Facebook is actually the logical end-point of what AOL should have become. AOL had some web initiatives, such as Geocities or Hometown, which could have easily morphed into Facebook, but it didn’t. It could have made the transition rather easily. I can’t find anyone who argues with this premise.

If AOL had become what Facebook is now, would I use it? No, not really.

Facebook is retro because, like AOL, it’s retro by its nature. It’s a closed system. Some people like a closed comfy system and others don’t. I, for one, don’t. If I want a personal webpage with all sorts of information about myself, I’ll go to WordPress.com and make one. By doing this, I don’t turn over any data, control, or information to an onerous third party to sell, use, or exploit. I can close down the site when I want. I can say what I want. I can pretty much do whatever.

If I am the least bit worried, I can use my various providers or other services to post a WordPress blog right from my own server. None of this is possible with Facebook. It wasn’t possible with AOL either.

Which begs the question as to why anyone would use Facebook when it is essentially AOL done right? The fastest growing group on Facebook are people in their 70’s. Oldsters are flocking to Facebook the way they once did with AOL. Facebook is a simple system for the masses that do not really care about technology and do not want to learn anything new except something easy like Facebook.

Whenever someone tells me to check out something on Facebook, I recall the heyday of AOL with its keywords. “Go to the Internet at www.blah.com or AOL keyword: blah.” This was a common comment on the nightly news or in magazines. The AOL keyword is replaced by the Facebook page name.

There is no reason for anyone with any chops online to be remotely involved with Facebook, except to peruse it for lost relatives. So, next time you log on, remember it’s really AOL with a different layout.

Welcome to the past.

by John C Dvorak on PCMag.com