For now, at least, that’s my current mindset.
Facebook has gotten too ugly, or at least I can no longer ignore the parts i don’t like, and so I’ve decided it’s time to part ways. The recent security issues have pushed me over the edge but there were other things as well. The sense of feeling like I’m “not in touch” and needed to check to see what everyone else is up to has become more a distraction than a social interaction. The false sense of connection facebook engenders cheapens the notion of friendship and reduces communication to a disjointed stream of announcements. And unless or until I have a reason or need to market myself to a network of “friends,” I don’t feel like being facebook’s “market” of exploitable data.
But for the time being I am keeping my Twitter account. Though tweets have the same feel as facebook status updates the overall effect feels like more of a conversation than a personal billboard exchange. I’ve participated in live conversations on Twitter (and wish I had time to do more of that) with a network of like-minded individuals that I didn’t have to recognize as “friends” or have to worry about private information being shared in the process. On facebook, a comment thread takes days for a handful of people to respond, making it feel like the Pony Express, while Twitter’s real-time narrative actually feels as lively as a conference call. I can dip into areas of interest on Twitter by checking out hash tags as though drifting through a cocktail party and catching bits of conversation. What it loses in personal connection it makes up for in quality and interactivity.
And to be honest, I never much cared for the weather-reporting and navel-gazing aspect of facebook, even while I actively participated in such activities.
It says something that the Library of Congress negotiated to become the depository for the Twitter archive. I don’t know what exactly it says, but it says something that a similar negotiation was not made for facebook – although facebook has managed to catch the attention of Congress, if not its library. Perhaps it has to do with a sense of historical importance, or the idea that there is a value in conversational exchange that isn’t diluted by ridiculous polls, or Mafia Wars, or the idea that “liking” something automatically makes you a demographic for marketers.
The one thing I did like about facebook was the ability to find and reconnect with people from my past who had slipped away for a variety of reasons. This was a double-edged sword, of course, as my 30th (really? sheesh I’m old) high school reunion edged on the horizon and people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day back in high school suddenly wanted to include me on their roster of friends. But the ratio of friends I wanted to reconnect with against those I didn’t was a very lopsided affair.
If you’re reading this then you probably already know how to get hold of me, and there’s always Twitter for the other bits. Heck, if anyone’s interested, I’d be open to something postal. Not necessarily letters – email is best there – but maybe something more creative and personal. Something with some meat to it, rather than this facebook diet of soundbite broadcasting.
So long, facebook.