28 May 2010

Dear Facebook, We're Through...Kind Of

I'm breaking up with Facebook. For a week. I know. It's a trial separation leading up to what will be the inevitable divorce.

I'm sure everyone online is aware of the kerfuffle over Facebook's privacy policy. There's a movement to delete profiles on May 31st, another to not sign in on June 6th. Of course, the changes to the privacy policy to make them "simpler" have come through just in time to make those deadlines. By that, the deletion movement has lost some of its wind, as I'm sure has the June 6th protest. But, back in mid-May, I decided that, while I was too lazy to delete my account at this time, I would not sign in for a week to let Facebook (and my friends) know that I could indeed live without it. Facebook's advertisers would not get any hits or views from me in that time, making only a slight dent in FB's back pocket. Even though Facebook admitted to making some mistakes and have clarified the privacy policy, I'm not one to walk away from a commitment. So, I'll be signing off before midnight on the 30th and won't sign back in until the 7th. I'll also be deleting my BlackBerry Facebook app as well so there's no unintentional connection.

Why go to all of this bother, especially when it's only me doing it?

Well, for one, I think Mark Zuckerberg is the ultimate douche. He believes Facebook is too big to fail and that he can get away with just about anything because where else will people go? Back to MySpace? And, for the most part, he's right. Where would we move to if we made a mass exodus? (I say to a bar. Actually have real contact with real friends. But that's just me.) There are other social networks in development, most excitingly Diaspora. But, for now, there's no real, new alternative. So, maybe Mark is right. For now. Without a doubt, what happened to MySpace will happen to Facebook. Eventually. Everything changes. Nothing lasts forever. And, once you've reached the top, the only place to go is down.

Zuckerberg ought to tattoo that somewhere.

For the past two weeks, there were many interesting conversations and rants on the subject of To Delete or Not to Delete as well as Who Cares? I created a Facebook event and invited friends to join me in a week away. It was an underwhelming response with four yeses, 11 maybes and 33 noes. I wasn't surprised. We tend to be such good corporate lambs willing sacrifice privacy, among other things, for convenience or fun or to be part of the crowd.

But that's not what I signed up for.

I'm not so naïve to believe there's such a thing as actual privacy on the internet, or life in general, these days. I use a rewards card knowing they are keeping track of what I purchase. But, at least I'm getting money back for that. Not to mention I've been blogging for nearly a decade, and have been known to overshare. But, I'm not one to post photos or videos, or anything more compromising that an opinion on the internet. Yes, I blab on Twitter on a daily basis and tell people where I'm at via Foursquare. Obviously, I'm not *that* concerned with privacy. I just like to have a say in where what I post is going.

It's a fine line.

The Library of Congress is collecting my tweets. Google me and you'll know some of my innermost thoughts. But, I don't want to be on CNN.com and see what my friends have been reading. I find that incredibly creepy and assumptive. Like I need to be led by my friends' opinions as to what is relevant or cool.

No. I don't.

And, if it is something that's truly relevant to me, or super cool, my real friends will contact me directly.

*********

I will give Facebook its due credit. I've reconnected with countless people through it. Friends I hadn't talked to for ten or twenty years. That's an incredible thing. I also connected with total strangers who have become friends of sorts. And, in the beginning, I friended people I didn't know just to be polite, accepted requests from a friends' friends in order to not look like a jerk. I ended up with 160+ people connected to me who may or may not have the same views of privacy I do, and I started to ask, Why?

So, on Thursday, I did a mass deletion. I removed about 20 "friends". It felt kind of heartless at first. It's not like you have the option when you delete to send a note saying, "Hey, nothing personal, but I'm removing you from my list. No hard feelings, okay?" (And I didn't have the time to send out personal messages.) Half of the people I was deleting I had already hidden from my news feed, so what was the point of having them linked to me if I wasn't paying attention to what they said? The others removed were courtesy friends that I never really connected with, or actual friends who use Facebook as a promotion tool or their center stage. At the end of the day, I'm sure people won't notice or care that I am no longer their "friend", and, if they do, hopefully, they will find this and accept my apology, or will pick up the phone to ask why. Seriously. Facebook isn't the only form of communication left on the planet, you know?

*********

When I first joined Facebook, it was fun. I will admit that I was that annoying user whose zombie would attack your zombie with zeal, and would send you karma regularly. But, soon, I grew bored with that. I never got into mobs or farms or the like. Never played any games or IM-ed. Facebook, for me, was about connection and conversation, and the occasional pleasant surprise of catching up with a ghost from the past.

But now? Well, now, I've just about caught up with everyone I want to. I don't need a four-digit friend count to feel a sense of self. And I really couldn't give a rat's backside about what anyone "likes". Facebook has become a bit of a yawn, sort of like a dinner party that's gone on too long and the conversation is dying out.

Still, no one seems ready to leave. Yet. But, I do believe that Facebook has jumped the shark. With competition brewing, the next year of social media is sure to be interesting. It's time for something new. A new group of people. New conversations. A different way to connect. Like, perhaps, in person.

So, a week without Facebook is soon to begin. I'm sure it will be a bit awkward at first. A habit to be broken. But, I'll still be on Twitter. I still have email, and three phone numbers for friends to call or be called. This isn't a way of disconnecting from friends but perhaps connecting with them better. Yet, what I'm most curious to find is how often I will be back on Facebook once the week is through? Or if I will at all.

Any word on when Diaspora will launch?

17 May 2010

The Lengths I Will Go

I bought my first package of recycled toilet paper yesterday. I gag a little whenever I think of the phrase "recycled toilet paper". It's just gross. I, like most women, am a total toilet paper snob. So, while I will buy recycled paper towels (the 365 brand at Whole Foods is the best because it comes in half-sheets with little hearts embossed on it, so what's not to love), and biodegradable detergents and non-chlorine non-bleach, organic soaps and shampoo, I can only take my ecological efforts so far. Thus far, that has not included "feminine" supplies (nor will it), or recycled TP. Until I stood in the aisle staring at the $2.99 double-roll 4-pack of environmentally conscientious bathroom tissue.

I stared at it for a long time. I looked at the options. Seventh Generation's was a whopping $4.69. Hell, if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I might as well get Charmin or Northern...stuff that hasn't been used before. No. That was quickly ruled out. The 365 brand was also $2.99, but had a lesser sheet count (yeah, I really do look at that stuff....eight months of unemployment will change a woman) than the brand (whose name I can't even recall, outside of "environmentally sound packaging") I ended up getting...but only after I squeezed it to see if I could gain a sense of its softness.

I couldn't.

But, I bought it anyway. Why? Because I was too fucking lazy to walk two stores down to CVS and get real toilet paper, that's why. Really. Can you fucking believe that one, people? No. Neither can I.

Let me further articulate the situation. My Whole Foods is in a semi-gentrified mini-mall. It houses (from South to North) a laundromat, the aforementioned Whole Foods, a 99¢ Store and a CVS. Now, my Whole Foods is the size of the Super Dome, so it's quite a walk over to the CVS. And that CVS is tiny, and still kind of grungy, but has the basics, including real toilet paper.

So, I stood there in the Whole Foods aisle of all things recycled, including things that really shouldn't be, and weighed my options: Dump my groceries in the car and walk over to CVS and get the super ultra Northern at nearly $1.25 per roll, or save myself a few steps and two bucks and buy the recycled crap.

How lazy am I?!?

Well, to my credit, I got up at 7:30, had my shower, sorted laundry, took it over to the 'mat (not the one by WF, because that one still kind of skeeves me out...all laundromats do, but I would rather get three loads done in one hour, so I suck it up and pretend I'm not really there) and got petrol for the week. So, by the time I got to Whole Foods, it was just after ten, and I had my whole day ahead of me. I just wanted to get home to my French press of French roast and the chocolate croissant I splurged on (because my uterus wanted it and she tends to get want she wants...it just makes life much easier not to argue with her, trust me).

Recycled toilet paper seemed like a cheap price to pay for that.

(I'll let you know how it goes. I'm making my half-roll of the really good stuff last as long as possible. Why do I do this to myself? Really. I would love some insight here.)

**********

And so, I should probably explain my four-month absence from the blog, especially since I promised so much and it is its last year, and to just toss a good third of it away kind of deserves an explanation.

I don't have one.

Sorry. But just being burnt out doesn't seem to hold water. Being busy with a job rather than doing the work I want doesn't really breed fodder for this forum. Spending every weekend writing for someone else's project leaves little left over for myself. Ideas whir about in my head, then evaporate before I can log in here.

There's a lot I want to say, but can't right now. There's a lot on the line and a lot on hold and I desperately want to share, but I'm afraid it would make it all go away. I know. Could I be more vague? I'm sure I could, but how annoying would that be? Or annoying-er. Whatever. There is more to say here. Really, there is. I just need to free myself from a few more strings, and then I can really let it all fly.

xo