New Criticals

Opting out is also a dubious proposition for those who utilize social media to do a more traditional kind of care work—the work of emotional connection without which families, both biological and chosen, would wither. Nearly all of the people I spoke with in my Facebook refusal research said their family or friend relationships had been affected by their non-participation on the site. Like it or not, Facebook is where weekend plans are made, "Happy Birthdays" are wished, and new babies are joyfully displayed to distant loved ones. I find that many critiques of Facebook participation ignore or understate the genuine expressions of care that are mediated through the platform. To say, for example, that "time spent on Facebook stops us from giving love and affection to others" (Scholz 2013, 3) assumes that we do not spend our Facebook time giving love and affection to others. Though it is problematic that the relationships we create or nurture online are mined as network data, walking away from these relationships may not be a realistic option for people who, for better or worse, depend on Facebook to enable their connections to others. While others have made similar observations that it takes privilege to opt out (e.g. Marwick 2011; Scholz 2013) I want to be specific here in pointing out that the emotional, social costs of Facebook non-participation may be higher for those who carry the responsibility for maintaining family and community connectedness. To refuse the role of carer, whether that caring takes place through an online platform or otherwise, carries greater symbolic consequences for those whose social identities are bound up in the caring role (Weeks 124, 130).