“If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY?

We’ve had a controversial week here at SMC, with both danah and Bernie jumping into the fray over Real Names (TM) and social network sites.

I’m not engaging with that mess, but I am interested in the response to it. Over, and over, and over again, when anyone– academic, pundit, journalist, blogger, regular person without a fancy appellation– criticizes social media, you’ll see a plethora of comments like the following (real comments from various things we’ve written with names removed):

“How dare you write software and give it to me for free under terms with which I disagree? That’s an abuse of power!”
No, it isn’t. Get your sense of entitlement under control.

The solution is rather simple – don’t join Facebook.

The internet is a big place. There’s room for all kinds of social networks. You don’t have to join every one of them.

It’s common, and easy, to say “just don’t use it.” There’s actually a term for this– technology refusal– meaning people who strategically “opt out” of using overwhelmingly prevalent technologies. This includes teens who’ve committed Facebook suicide because it causes too much drama; off-the-grid types who worry about the surveillance potentials of GPS-enabled smartphones; older people who think computers are just too much trouble; and, of course, privacy-concerned types who choose not to use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, websites with cookies, or any other technology that could potentially compromise their privacy. (This does not include people who can’t afford internet access or computers, or who live in areas without cell towers or broadband access.)
Continue reading ““If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY?”