Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

Why I’m Not on Facebook and Other Musings by a “Non-Joiner”

Young people without Facebook accounts are regarded as suspicious by a number of employers, their human resources departments, and some psychologists. Might this group of resisters have something sinister to hide, and even be psychopathic? This issue has been reported on herehere, and here (from 2012). The fact that it’s taken me so long to notice that non-joiners are regarded as strange in a negative way shows my limited interest in Facebook. Now that I’ve received the memo though, I’ll say I’m not surprised that people are wondering, “What’s different about the non-joiners?” and then coming up with hunches that have a negative spin.

Life has dealt me a strange hand such that I find myself (1) a non-participant when it comes to a number of activities that most enjoy and (2) having to vociferously defend my preferences. As a result, I’ve come to notice how consistently people assume non-joiners to have character flaws. Observe:

1. Non-drinkers – “Untrustworthy!” or “Boring!” and a myriad of other negative assumptions you can read about from here

It just so happens that I have the Alcohol Flush Reaction which means that I have quite the unpleasant reaction when I drink. Even when I shove this Wikipedia article explaining the scientific basis for my reaction in drink pushers’ faces in a futile attempt to get them to see reason and stop with the social pressure, I find that they prefer to assume that I can “undo” the way I’ve been wired by drinking. As a side note, it’s funny that the same people are so unappreciative when I suggest we cure their loved ones’ peanut allergies by feeding them more peanuts. See? I’m not so boring, am I?

2. People (especially women) who voluntarily opt to be child-free – “Selfish!” or “Freak-of-nature!” and other assumptions

There’s likely nothing I can say to justify my life path to anyone who’s hellbent on verbally pushing and shoving, “But we all have that urge,” “Someday you will change you’re mind,” or “You won’t have an fulfilling life!” I swear, however, that for whatever reason, I’ve neither taken an interest in nor experienced a desire to have children… ever! Nope, not one iota throughout the nearly 40 years of my life, not when I met the perfect guy, not after I’ve thought deeply on this issue and about my future, and not even as I watch my cheery nephew grow up. There really doesn’t seem to be a “nice,” acceptable way to admit deviation from the norm on this issue unfortunately, so women such as myself usually come out being perceived as a “monster” of some sort.

Imagine my relief when the discovery of a “mommy gene” was announced. Thankfully I’m of the age where there’s virtually no use in badgering me on this issue, but hopefully science will shed more light on us “misfits” and completely assure others that we are really quite natural! Until this day comes, if you’re like me, expect office social life to be not-so-pleasant as others (to be honest, it’s especially been other women) choose to go on the offensive on this personal issue and waste time at work debating you to no end.

3. Loners – “Ticking time bombs and potential mass murderers!” and other stigmas

“Do loner women exist?” is a question that appears a lot on the Internet. The answer is yes! You just found one! Anyone interpreting my social media activity as a sign of how social I am will be surprised by how very little I socialize – and I’m a happy loner I must add. No kidding. Whenever I take career tests, results will (in accordance to my stated preferences) suggest that I pursue something along the lines of “graveyard shift security guard.” As with #2 (above), I’m doubly cursed here as well since women are expected to be social. This is natural to me though. I enjoy peace and quiet, and spend gobs and gobs of time reading or immersing myself in thought and daydreams, and that’s why I’m not out there rubbing elbows as much.

With that said, I’ve often found that when people say “But people are social animals!” they say this with an implicit expectation that everyone’s social need level is (or should be) right around where theirs is. It’s terribly erroneous, however, for anyone to position themselves as the standard for what’s healthy as there’s wide variation when it comes to level of social need. Generalized calls for “All things in moderation” are ill-advised here because there are gifts associated with being not-so-moderate as well (see this post for more on this), and you never know when you might need that person who has high tolerance for long periods of social isolation. In fact, I’ve once come across a hypothesis stating that, back when it used to take days to travel from one city to another, “loners” may have been the most willing and able to act as couriers from one city to another.

Now back to the issue of Facebook abstainers

Notice a pattern? Hopefully, Facebook resisters won’t be marginalized and stigmatized as “non-joiners” have been in the 3 examples mentioned above. Though I understand why employers and their human resources departments are interested in rooting out “baddies,” in the interest of objectivity, they should also investigate the possibility that non-members of Facebook may have positive qualities of particular interest to employers that aren’t so often found among Facebook members. This is what one psychology researcher, Scott McGreal, has provided in this post.

Finally, why am I not on Facebook?

As detailed in this post, there are innocuous reasons why someone would not participate in this or that social activity. My reason for not being on Facebook is the least interesting of all. Over 5 years ago I joined for a brief while, and though I enjoyed silly games like FarmVille, I found that the Facebook site itself was creating more problems for my computer than any other site I frequented. Note that I also never took Facebook membership seriously (as indicated by using a cartoon image of a female elf for my profile picture), so I cancelled my account and never missed it. I’m explaining myself as I’d recently come to the realization that “lynn patras facebook” has been searched for a number of times. My primary assumption is that there are some of you out there who were looking to “friend” me and, for that, I thank you.

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