A month ago, I wrote an extensive goodbye to Facebook, so now I feel obliged to write at least a quick explanation of why I am going back after a month hiatus. In my previous post, I explained that it wasn’t one particular thing that turned me off Facebook, but a series of events, some having to do with my personal neurosis and others with Facebook’s nefarious goings on.
The reasons I quit were never very clear even to me. I just knew that I wasn’t feeling it anymore. Something was off. After a month away, I do not have a clear compelling reason to go back. In fact it has been very easy not worrying about what my friends are or are not doing. It has been a nice break, and really I am hesitant to go back. The thing is that the network I had created in that space was no longer relevant to me. Thinking about it now, however, I see that it wasn’t necessarily Facebook that had grown stale, but network that rested there. The problem is that I had some really good friends there. People I have known for years, people who want to know what I am up to, and people to whom I want to stay connected.
As an international school teacher, I have many global relationships that were maintained through Facebook. As I prepare to move on to my next post, many of my good friends in Doha have said how disappointed they are that we cannot stay in touch. While the purist in me, would like that they would make the effort to stay in touch via the other places I frequent on the web, the realist in me understands that most people want one place they can see what all their friends re doing.
For better or for worse, Facebook is that place, at least for now. I realize that now.
Here is my new Facebook strategy:
Privacy- As I have mentioned, I am not too concerned about what I share on the web. I follow an open philosophy and I share many aspects of my life online all the time. However, I do not like that Facebook is actually profiting from my data and content, so change number #1 will be that I will no longer post any content on Facebook. I will simply direct my friends to the other places online where I house my content. Places where it is attached to a CC license and not sold to data miners for profit. I will also actually make my way through the privacy maze and choose what makes sense for me.
Maintaining Freshness- I will rebuild my friend list with people I remember and with whom I want to stay in touch. I will not reconnect with random people out of obligation and as soon as someone is clogging up my feed, I will hide and/or remove them. This is my space to stay connected with the group I want. I will try and keep my numbers low and with people who interact with me. This will be a light and more fluid Facebook.
Chill Out- Here comes the main reason I quit in the first place. I felt I was too obsessed with constantly checking who was doing what and staying caught up all the time. After a month of being away, I know that quitting Facebook is not the end of the world. I know that I can stay away and not feel like I am missing out on something. Life went on, rather smoothly I might add the month I was gone. Having said that, I am going back in large part because I miss some people there and I feel missed. These people include family and friends. Honestly, I don't feel very good about the decision. I feel I am making it out of obligation to forces I cannot name. A small part of me wants to go back, but even writing this post feels strange. In some strange way, I feel I owe it to my friends to use the tool they find easiest to help maintain our friendships.
I can see the cynics out there shaking their heads and scoffing at the idea that a friendship needs Facebook to stay relevant, and I agree with you it does not. Two of my best friends in the world are not on Facebook and we stay in touch just fine, but for the majority of my relationships Facebook is the easiest game in town.
Apprehensively, I am back…at least for now. Somewhere, Zuckerberg is rubbing his hands together and laughing the evil villain laugh, " I knew they would all be back....."