Despite the evil, I’m sticking with Facebook

This morning’s share

After a brief flurry of “I’m leaving” posts, the talk about Facebook’s crimes has died away from my feed. Everything seems back to normal (whatever that is). It’s not surprising, because for those who have made this network part of their daily routine and would like to continue the interaction, good substitutes are really not there. The closest, I suppose, is Twitter, but I like the long talk. Then there is Instagram (owned by FB), which is great for sharing images. Neither really comes close to offering similar, extended interaction. I suppose Instagram could, but it doesn’t, at least not on my feed.

Though I don’t love it for random gardening questions, where expertise is called for, there are plenty of reasons for gardeners to stay on FB. Here are some of mine:

The Garden Professors
A brief scroll this am turns up interesting discussions on raised beds, vermicomposting, bulb soaking and more. And it’s fun (though not for the hosts, I suppose) to see people get in an uproar about the unproven, anecdotal garden remedies that get debunked here.

Garden Bloggers Fling
FB is command central for this, with various groups for the admins, organizers, and attendees of this yearly event. A lot of important information is exchanged.

Buffalo Garden Talk
This is a recent start-up, but so far it has produced a couple houseplant exchanges and it’s a good clearing house for local events.

The Business of Garden Writing
This group is great for professional stuff,  general gripe-sharing, advice, and, sometimes, interesting arguments, although that seems to have died down. It’s also the group that has had the most discussion about the problems with FB. “Proceed with caution” seems to be the conclusion for most.

Of course, there have always been issues with Facebook, particularly with groups. The Garden Walk Buffalo group had to be abandoned; it became choked with spam and uselessness. Now there is just the official page.

I’m with those who have always assumed whatever there was to be known about me has long been out there. And anyone searching for it is welcome to it! I worry much more about regular old financial theft.

In any case, FB is still an essential part of my professional life, both for my day job and my independent projects. How about you? Proceeding with caution or bailing out?

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I deactivated my account for a week in protest, but always intended to return. It’s my contact with out-of-state relatives, and gardeners all over the country. Facebook is also how I keep up to date on what my local indivisible chapter is planning. I have reviewed my privacy settings and eliminated all the “category” sections of “ads,” and never take quizzes. I have also decided to stop “liking” any controversial post. I find that actually I am spending more time on twitter because many of my facebook friends’ posts are “sharing” platitudes, not actual personal status posts. The groups I belong to are the best part (and photos of grandchildren).

  2. I have about 75 “friends” on FB, but I “follow” only a few, as the rest are just reposting cute sayings or recipes (I have boring friends). However, I belong to several FB groups that I find inspiring and helpful, plus some local orgs use FB to communicate with members. I keep notifications turned off, don’t have the app on my phone, rarely post personal stuff (and then it is usually pics of my pets – I can be boring too!) I consider it a tool that I use, not a tool that uses me.

  3. Great post, as always! Yes, the fear is there, but so is great information, good contacts, and interaction with people (like you!) that we can’t personally visit every day but can learn from via Facebook.

    • Thanks, Linda! It’s a fact that blog comment discussions have fallen off with the advent of social media.

  4. In addition to all the cool and fun pages on gardening, food, travel, and countless other topics, Facebook is essential to both our business (we have an Inn in southern WV with over 2000 “fans”, and our Facebook page is now as important- if not more- than our website), and to me, personally. Living in Extremely Rural WV, Facebook is my lifeline to my friends all over the world- without it I would have lost touch with most- and some I re-found on Facebook after decades. We laugh together, cry together, pray for each other, share things of mutual interest, enjoy our hobbies, share our blogs, support each other’s businesses and endeavors, share photos and trips and news, raise funds for our charities, and do a million other things- and are there for each other when the you-know-what hits the fan. When my husband was in the hospital in ICU & I was alone and scared, thanks to hundreds of friends on Facebook and their prayers I didn’t feel- and wasn’t- totally alone. Thanks to Facebook, one friend actually came to help us. On my birthdays some 100 friends send me love, laughter, and good wishes- making birthdays fun again! Thank goodness it’s free, but if I had to pay for it I would have to. Understand that if you do email or are on the internet in ANY way, you ARE being tracked, and there ARE no-goodnicks out there- our accounts have been hacked- many times. That is the way it is, and unless you go live “off the grid” that is the way it will be.

  5. I left Facebook many years ago because of the overwhelming presence of just plain nasty folks on there. But I came back about a year ago. I’ve learned a lot about who to follow, who to mute and how to almost avoid the ugly controversies that crop up. I followed Garden Professors for a while but found the admins to be very heavy handed in their manner. Not very gracious. I keep looking for Gardening pages to follow that are more welcoming and I’ve found a few I really like. Joe the Gardener is one of them and I follow a few local ones. You’re right – there’s yet no real substitute for FB, so I’m staying.

  6. With a large Facebook following, I never planned to leave. But, for a long time, I’ve been frustrated with group discussions on FB. My issue is that unless you have time to contribute or react immediately the discussion gets lost in the long string of responses/comments. It can be quite frustrating to try and revisit a topic without searching or remembering who posted the original. I’ve found a much better option than Facebook for searching by topic and for in-depth discussion — I get lots of inquiries about moss gardening via email and FB. With over 2000 FB “friends” and over 1400 members of my “Go Green With Moss” FB group, I often get some of the very same questions over and over, so I’m encouraging people to migrate to my “Ask Mossin’ Annie” page on Qutee because I literally don’t have the time to answer all questions with an individual response. Also, I hope that discussions will eventually start to happen. In the meantime, I will continue to use FB because so many people use this social media outlet… although I consider Qutee a better option for intelligent discussion by topic vs random chit chat. — Mossin’ Annie

  7. I’ve never had an account with Facebook.

    It bothered me a lot that Facebook actually experimented with people’s emotions using their feeds: What gave them the right?

    I also sometimes feel Facebook limits my freedom of speech. There are certain Internet platforms, news groups, etc. where I’m unable to make a comment because I’m not a Facebook member. Why? I should have the right to make comments without going through Facebook.

    I also hear from friends and my daughter about how they’ve been hurt by people on Facebook or that some people one-up each other. I know not all Facebook interactions are bad ones, but I prefer to see/speak with people one-on-one and not through what amounts to a business interface that tracks what I do and who I know.

    I realize most people don’t care that much, and I respect other people’s choices. If they want to be on Facebook, they have every right.

    I recently went to a private email account that I pay for so I wouldn’t be tracked by Yahoo, not that I do anything worth tracking! I buy most things used and/or not made in China, and I lead a boring life and spend hours talking to plants. ~Grin.~

  8. Laura, I too have never joined FB and don’t plan to, and I agree with all you said. I also don’t like that all these platforms say they are “free”. The other day I got an offer to open a “free” Amazon Prime Business account; among the other perks, they offered to do analytics for my business. No thanks!

    There was an article in the Washington Post today saying that each Facebook user’s value in advertising is around $82, and asking what people would pay to keep their information private. That bugs me; it puts the onus on us to pay for our privacy, which should be a right, or at least a choice, which it is right now. The problem is the deception around these details.

  9. Many users feel they can’t leave Facebook/Instagram, and the reasons they give (in this post and elsewhere) make clear just how powerful a monopoly it is.

    However, there are many gardeners and others who do not have FB accounts, and for sound reasons have no intention of getting them. Let me urge those of you who organize events, projects, campaigns, clubs, etc. to plan communications and publicity with both groups in mind, and not to treat the connection with your non-FB community as a second thought.

  10. I have had a love/hate relationship with FB. It can have some great value when it comes to sharing and learning in groups. At other times it can turn into a playground for arguing and controversy. I have considered many times calling it quits. Instead, I decided that the good value still outweighs the bad and stick with it.

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