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

GDP growth: +0.6% Q2 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.9% Sept 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.2% Sept 2018
Last update: 13 Nov 2018

E-Newsletter

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

  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Watch the webcast of the final press conference of the OECD annual ministerial meeting 2018.
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Rousseau
  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

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 2018