On a drunken night out in Reykjavík I convinced someone to delete his facebook profile. Score for me
However, while he was trying to find the right button to click I got a bit nervous whether I was convincing someone to trade in a big part of his social life.
Though originally designed as a tool for old school friends to stay in touch, now facebook has become a crucial part in how society organises itself.
Just this month there were several private and semi private events which had been organised over facebook:
"Ég missi oft af sjálfstæðum leiksýningum, partíum og einstaka fundum. Ég fæ líka oft tölvupósta sem byrja á setningunni: „Fyrst þú ert ekki á Facebook…“ Fólk verður oft orðlaust þegar ég segi því að ég sé ekki á Facebook því þetta er svo stór partur af svo mörgum."
Hilmar Guðjónsson Vísir
New Years eve
Helping packing Mailpile perks
Board game night
In this case not being on facebook is alike to not having email 10 years ago. One is exempt from the general form of communication and people have to remember to include/inform one.
Whether on not this has a big effect on ones social life really depends on ones social circle. How integrated one is and how willing people are to send an email to this friend in particular or simply change the mode of communication in general.
Things become different outside of the private life. Facebook works so well for Icelandic people because informal markets are so strong here. I do not mean the black market, but rather the informal job or housing market. There is a facebook group for housing. But mostly jobs and houses (for rent) are found via social networking. In a country where everyone knows everyone, this makes a lot of sense. However, informal markets have the drawback of excluding people outside of the "community".
"Newt had always suspected that people who regularly used the word "community" were using it in a very specific sense that excluded him and everyone he knew."
-Neil Gainman / Terry Pratchett (Good Omens)
How well one does in informal markets often depends on how well connected one is and how well one uses these connections. Technically facebook is a really good tool for this. It is the virtual representation of the gentlemen club of old with the advantage of not being elitist (though this is how how it started out, as a platform for students from "elite" schools to network and there was much lament when it opened to the general public).
Though a good tool on a technical level, my problem with facebook is the monopoly over this form of communication and organising and the resulting cost of access to it. Because there is a cost, though not monetary.
This actually does not only apply to facebook, but to most services for communication and collaboration. Though they look like peer to peer they are all centralised services, which will always be a doorway to abuse. Facebook just happens to be the most used, the most encompassing and with the most sociapathic Chairman/CEO.
The tools we use to communicate and organise ourselves matter.
We should not create system where participation in society means having to leave your privacy at the door.