Actor Jim Carrey, known primarily for comedic roles in movies like Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, thinks we should all leave Facebook. He is far from the first (or last) person to come to that conclusion, and he might have a point.
That said, you may not entirely agree with his reasons for why. In a message posted to Twitter, Carrey says, "I'm dumping my @facebook stock and deleting my page because @facebook profited from Russian interference in our elections and they're still not doing enough to stop it. I encourage all other investors who care about our future to do the same. #unfriendfacebook"
Facebook has admitted that a Russian propaganda firm purchased $100,000 worth of advertising on the social media site, some of which directly named Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, though they say the "vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn't specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or a particular candidate." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that his website could have influenced the election.
Should that be enough cause to abandon the social media platform where all of your relatives are posting cute baby pictures, sharing prayer requests and talking about how depressed they are after watching the latest episode of This Is Us? For some, including Carrey, that seems to be the case. But considering that two billion people use Facebook every month, and "only" a reported 126 million people were exposed to Russian propaganda, there's a good chance you'll look at that data and ask, "So what?"
Still, there are plenty of arguments that Facebook is bad for your mental health. Just for starters, it means we more often have to deal with the very different political views of our uncles -- leading to fights that used to only be reserved for the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Then there was the recent story that Facebook had hired somebody just to monitor the public perception of Zuckerberg (Not Facebook. Zuckerberg). That in and of itself, while unusual, isn't a red flag, but the pollster in question, Tavis McGinn, left after six months saying, "I didn't feel great about the product. I didn't feel proud to tell people I worked at Facebook. I didn't feel I was helping the world."
McGinn says there are "plenty of good people at Facebook trying to make a difference," and he thinks the site "could have a really good impact on society." But there is plenty of cause for concern, because, "the more Facebook builds profit, the more it's at the expense of the American people."
Then again, maybe Facebook's pros still outweigh its cons. There is little doubt that it helps people stay connected -- not just friends and family, but also readers, fellow writers, fellow Dallasites, fellow geeks, etc. My mind might be less cluttered without Facebook, but I would also interact with far fewer people than I currently do.
For now, I don't plan on following Carrey's advice to delete my Facebook account. I do, however, think we all need to be more careful about how much power a single website has over all of our lives.