Net disillusion

©David Rooney

Social network websites such as Myspace and Facebook that have come on the scene in the last few years may be hugely popular, but they are not without their dissenters. Here is a humourous view from French writer and businessman, Jacques Rosselin.*

That’s it, I’ve made up my mind, I’m hanging up on Facebook. I’m stopping tomorrow. I’m going to gain an extra half-hour of life per day, like when you stop smoking. And gain some brain time in the bargain. Why am I stopping? For one very compelling reason: the founder explained that he had lots of brilliant ideas for selling the names of members and their personal data to advertisers. One compelling reason, but also a couple of hundred thousand confused reasons, signals and subconscious alarm bells going off…

You know Facebook, right? It’s the trendiest of “social networking” websites. Initially, it looks quite appealing. And then you sign up and soon realise that it’s nothing more than personal pages with CVs and lists of friends–Internet, basically. But a few days later, you start wondering if you’re in the right place. You feel a bit like a dad disguised as a kid at a teen rave in Pamplona. Or like an intellectual trapped at a dinner at Fouquet’s. Or a young man trying to develop a serious relationship at Club Med. Maybe it’s the intrusion of all these “friends” that gives the site this numbingly adolescent flavour. It’s exasperating. All kinds of people e-mail you to ask you if you want to become their “friend”. It’s gratifying at first, but you soon understand what the word “friend” means in Facebook jargon: somebody who wants to “network” with you socially.

What gave it away was when Jean-Noël Guérini, a politician from the south, asked me to become his friend. Now I don’t know Jean-Noël Guérini and I’m sure he’s a nice enough sort, but why does he want to become my “friend”? Worse still, why does my daughter Hannah want to become my “friend”? I’m not her friend, for heaven’s sake, I’m her father! (…)

So now I must get back to Facebook to arrange my move to “Peuplade”–a neighbourhood social networking website, which will at least give me a chance to have a few drinks down the street and borrow some tools. I have to explain to the group that I’ve created “Facebook Dropouts”–how to pack up and leave. For all I know this may be impossible, like in “The Prisoner” or in the Eagles’ song “Hotel California”: “You can check out any time you like… but you can never leave!”

*Jacques Rosselin is a writer, businessman and co-founder of French political weekly, Courrier International. This article originally appeared under the title, “Pourquoi je quitte Facebook” (Why I’m quitting Facebook) in Metro (French edition), 23 November 2007. It was translated by the OECD.

©OECD Observer No 268 June 2008

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017