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?


Deidre said...

It's tough breaking up with facebook. Very tough. be strong!

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