May 10, 2010

Goodbye Facebook

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into quitting my Facebook account in the last few days. Which is strange that I feel the need to justify, even to myself, why I am choosing to no longer use a tool. At the end of the day that is all Facebook is- a tool that I no longer find useful, so why the extended manifesto on why I am done? I should just delete the damn thing and move on. However, like many others on the web, I’ve mentally been writing this post for days to explain to my friends and anyone else willing to listen, why I have chosen to no longer harangue them with photos of my kids and a litany of other cyber-activist news article that I happen to be reading when I am bored and alone at my house. Maybe I am just being trendy. Or maybe the latest shenanigans at Facebook have finally broken this camels back, whatever the reason, unfortunately, I don’t really have a clear profound existential reason for getting out. I have some loose strands, zygote ideas and you can find them below:

1. The main reason, or at least the first that comes to mind is that it has grown stale. No offense to the 256 friends I interact with everyday. Really I am not dealing with 256 people, but a small group pf very active users. The conversations have dried up to only about five or six people and they are usually not that compelling. At first I too loved getting photos of friends from around the globe and knowing what everyone was doing on their vacations and their everyday lives, but that personal aspect of Facebook seems to have been replaced by updates on which witty groups my friends have joined.

2. All this nonsense about privacy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in an open web. My Twitter bio reads: I want to share as much as I can with as many people as I can as often as I can. And I still believe that. I am spread across the web: Videos, Photos, Blogs, Blogs, Music, Books, web links, you name it. I believe in sharing my thoughts, feelings, and ideas, but I am not too pleased with how Facebook is claiming my life as its personal marketing tool. I will put my life out there and license it Creative Commons for others to see, use, share, and learn from, but I will not have my life turned into some ever changing nefarious web of privacy terms of service. Something about the new Facebook is untrustworthy and makes me uncomfortable. The fact that I can’t put my finger on it makes me want to opt out. I've read enough to know I am not happy. Read this and this.

3. I like to quit things that become burdensome and habitual. After surviving the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, I vowed to write 100 haikus. One a day for 100 days. I ended up writing 475 and posted each one on a Dreamweaver created website. Once day, I felt heavy and obligated to continue. The very practice I had started to help me carve out a time of my day to breath and reconnect with myself and the world had become a noose. I deleted every single poem without leaving a trace. Like a sand mandala I simply freed myself from the attachment. Five years ago, after a lifetime of building my identity around my relationship to alcohol, I quit drinking cold turkey and have never looked back. There is a very liberating feeling in breaking your habits. Facebook has become a habit, an unsatisfying one at that. I have grown too attached to the comfort of "being in touch" that I think perhaps I need to disconnect to learn more about myself, my friends, and my relationships.

I do not want my experiences on the web to become habitual. I want each interaction on the web to be authentic, dynamic, new and exciting. I want to create content and wait for someone to find it and connect with me. If that takes months, years, a lifetime that is fine with me. I am here in my corner of the web. I don’t not want my web experience to only be defined by Facebook and by the people who are there. I hope that my Facebook friends will venture out of the safe confines of Facebook and find me elsewhere. One of the main reasons I loved Facebook was that it allowed me to connect with people that were not very active on the web. But now, I hope that as a whole, users are more comfortable with web tools so that they can begin to move beyond Facebook as well. I would much rather have a conversation on a blog comment than a Facebook like button.

So friends, this is not the end of the line. If you find what I do, say, and think interesting then come join me out here on the true worldwide web, do not allow Facebook to determine where you view photographs or read news stories. Do not allow Facebook to control your content or your web experience.

I am saying good bye. Just like that! If you were a friend on Facebook whether an old friend, a random high school acquaintance I have recently gotten back in touch with, or a neighbor and you enjoyed my Facebook presence, I encourage you to follow my blogs. Now that I am not spending time reading my Facebook threads, I may actually be creating some worthwhile content. Goodbye Facebook, hello World Wide Web.

Leave me a comment. Don't be shy. No need to be anonymous. I am not asking you to quit Facebook, just asking that you come out here with me from time to time and share your thoughts.

13 comments:

  1. i think you nailed it with not wanting your web experiences to be habitual. i often find myself going through the same steps: email, google reader, blog, facebook, then asking myself, "what was it that i used to do with the internet?" i feel like there was something else 'out there' that i found compelling, but can no longer find...

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  2. Excellent post. That's about all I can say. It was worth the wait. It gives me some things to think about when it comes to my own Facebook use.

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  3. OK Jabiz, here is my $.02 :-)

    Friends: If you are bothered by the banality of the vocal few, it's pretty easy to hide or better yet de-friend them. Remember Lisa K's 50 friend rule. Once she gets to 50 she has to de-friend someone in order to add a friend.

    Privacy: There's a great post at TechCrunch (http://tcrn.ch/awBIhY) about people complaining about the lack of privacy at FB. He is spot on, in my opinion.

    Habitual: I am a person of habit, but it rarely involves FB. Once or twice a week, tops. I can totally see where it can suck you in and keep you from doing other things. On that I agree with you.

    Anyways, keep writing. I guess I will just have to start looking at your blog more often.

    Bob

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  4. @Bob great post from Tech Crunch Bob. But like I said in my post I was not saying that I have a problem with my content being made public. That is what I want that is why I share the work. I just don't like how Facwbook has been going out of its way to use my conten t to as this guy put it be an, " asset to manipulate or a commodity to be traded; my data is not a resource to be exploited for your financial gain."

    I am not afraid to be embarrassed by work I out on line, although I have been burned in the past, I just don't want Facebook being in charge of my work. Perhaps I am naive to think that a Creative Commons license actually means something, but at least on my blogs etc...I have control of the material.

    But really what is at stake here is my own obsessive compulsive addictive personality that has let my need to be "connected" with people in my life to overshadow why I use the web. Perhaps, I am not really sure anymore, seeing that Facebook so overshadows my Internet experiences.

    See it is good thing, we have already started a good conversation here on my blog, my turf not Facebook's. Though this blog is run by Google and they are probably as we speak sending my IP address and every but of information, from my searches to what Youtube videos I watch to the CIA.

    Like I said at the beginning I do not have some moral argument with Facebook, I just want to experience life without it for a while. Who knows I may go crawling back. It has only been a few hours and I already miss my "friends."

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  5. Frédéric9:20 PM

    Well, it looks like you got hooked in a routine boring session and good for you to make this ultimate decision.

    But, as far as I am concerned, I have not become a slave of FB and use it only with parsimony when necessary.

    I have as few a friend as necessary and only keep the ones who are active and I enjoy reading of their news, adventures and looking at their photographs, as much as I enjoy reading your blog and many other bloggers and Twitters.

    Let's not forget that time is short, technology of the net is still very complicated for some, while FB is dead simple for most users with
    basic computer knowledge.

    As for privacy, one has to use common sense and only publish what they don't really mind for the world to know. (I am going to read now Bob's link on TechCrunch and might change my mind...).

    But as you just wrote to Bob, you already miss your friends... Amongst them are those users who, like me, do not have the ability to write at length or cannot spend time writing blogs or even create their own website, etc...

    FaceBook does it all in its simplicity of use.
    So, I guess that FB will still carry on satisfying many for a long time.

    Looking forward to see you back on FB and become one of your friend there...

    Frédéric

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  6. I agree with your thoughts about being in control of your own content. Those of us that have thought enough about licensing our blogs under a Creative Commons license have already made our decision about how we want our words to be used.

    While I have a Facebook account I only use it rarely, usually I check it and look quickly through the posts of students I have connections with. A bit of monitoring if you will. Besides, all I really want is a school fan page so that I can post info about what we are doing in school with links to where I own the content.

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  7. Hey Mr.R,

    I'm actually happy for you. I mean I never had a facebook to begin with. Feels like I'm ahead of the game. I know your not in my situation were everyone's social life is on facebook but my dad told me he didn't want me to have one and that too many people would know what I was doing. But at least a year before he told me I had already decided I wasn't going to have one. For me the reasons are different but they still valid.
    1. My life should not be facebook only. I should not rely on something like such to be in touch with the people who matter to me the most. When it comes to family why should I add them and comment on their status when i can skype them and talk about things that matter, and actually build a relationship. I don't get why people have moved away with talking face to face and by phone and why we have satisfied ourselves with the fact that we can build healthy relationships by talking on a screen. There something about a phone call or a skype visual chat that is different. Move human.
    2.My school popularity should not be becuase I have more friends then you or I spend more time on facebook. I know that with the kids my age that is all what's about. I am different. I don't need facebook to convince myself I have many friends. i need the body and soul of the person too.
    3. If I spend time on twitter so much with is a small box, what would happen if I got a facebook? oh my, life would change, grades would drop and my motivation would be a small screen not my future. Thank god that was the prime reason I stopped myself from making an account.
    I will admit that facebook is a great tool to connect with people but honestly i have other tools too. And maybe for my friend across the world facebook might have been a good option but we have a great time with emails, twitter and skype. And I don't feel obligated to be on those 24/7
    So I would say I'm happy that you deleted you account. And you don't have to prove yourself. When people ask me I just say it's my choice and you don't' have to worry about it. Take a breath. Your doing great.
    Leila W.

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  8. Frédéric4:40 PM

    Hey Leila,

    Very wise comments for a young student and very commendable.

    My wife and I are 60 years old. We now live in UK permanently, though being both French, after working in many places around the world.

    Our son lives in the USA and our daughter in UAE. The rest of the family is in France and we do keep in touch with the most sincere friends that we made while working in various continents.

    We do converse regularly through Skype and gets emails from them.

    Meanwhile, FaceBook has given us much more detailed news of their life and activities that we could ever get through Skype or by email.

    They could not possibly forward the tons of photos that they upload on FB and we would never have a chance to see the ones that their friends are uploading as well.

    Pages has been for me an incredible source of information on the topics and people that I like without having to spend much time searching the internet. It is all there for me to link through the sites posted by other fans. Same thing with Twitter actually which I also consult with a very selective list of people I follow.

    It is a fact that we are sometimes shocked by the stupidity of some friends posting some compromising photos or writing some nonsense (to us). But that's life and they will learn.

    So, again, for us and many users, LONG LIVE FB.

    Kind regards

    Frédéric

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  9. Ahh, Dude! My facebook page just got a little dimmer. For all of the things that are wrong with it, I'll still play. It's like a menu of things to consider checking out, and the favorite veggie entree won't be there. I know I can still have the entree, but it's now its own stop. I've bookmarked your blog, now that I have to find my way here. When politics and news get interesting, I'll miss seeing your perspective calling out from my other FB friends... I'm nervous about this change in our relationship.... what if I'm not on MY computer?? I don't blog... What news should I direct to you??? If I don't read your blog, will I know about your next visit?!? Suddenly all new territory...

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  10. Evelyn A. Myers1:35 AM

    Hey Jabiz! I've been on the fence about quitting Facebook from the day I joined. It was the 'just about everybody from our class at SR and Davidson is on there' and a bottle of wine while at a friends house that got me to check it out. The very first week I had a taste of why I didn't want to be on the site when someone I'd met literally one time got highly upset because I de-friended her. You see when I joined, I did it on my Blackberry and spent at least a 1/2 hour selecting emails from my Google address book and sent the invitations. Turned out all of that effort was for naught and every single person I'd ever e-mailed through Google was sent an invitation, including this person whom I had e-mailed because I was planning a birthday party for a mutual friend. I realized the error and quickly deleted all those 'strangers' from my 'friends' list on FB thinking they wouldn't even notice but she definitely did and shared her disdain with our mutual friend.

    I did very much enjoy seeing old faces but after a while the excitement wore off. I'd reconnected with most of the chums that were out there and then I found myself playing games, looking at it while I was supposed to be working, in the car, at a bar, etc. The other day I was at a restaurant and there was a couple next to us. They were both on their phones looking at FB and not speaking to each other. I pretty much decided then I would quit FB, it was just a matter of when. I did want to be sure to get a few emails, contact #s before I signed off to stay in touch with family/friends abroad, etc. So I'm leaving FB myself this week after I gather that info.

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  11. You make some very valid points. I especially agree that (for me) it has outlived it's usefulness. Though, I'm having the hardest time with family connections including my son. I'm definitely stepping back and thoughtfully considering alternatives.

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  12. I'm late to comment, but a nice post.

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