Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I love you, Facebook, but we can't be together anymore

I've only ever quit Facebook once before, but this time... this time it's different. This time, I'm not going back.

I actually only started really using Facebook on a regular basis about a year ago. The precise reason I did so was because my outre ville friends basically told me that they would not respond to e-mails and that the way of the future was to connect to them with Facebook. I can definitely say that it brought me closer with a lot of my friends, because Facebook makes it easy to share the funny, random minutiae that comprise life, and also because Facebook chat is a fantastic way to keep up with people. Even before that, I had been "hanging on" to my account for the purpose of maintaining tabs on people I may eventually wish to get back in touch with, even if I don't speak to them regularly. That, too, has proven useful.

But when I figured out what the introduction of Timeline meant, I sort of grimaced and shivered. Granted, I heard about Timeline through this article at The New Inquiry, which is the sort of publication bound to make you hate things that in any way resemble mainstream culture. But although there are various and sundry concerns one may have about Timeline - namely, I suppose, privacy - I am simply no longer satisfied with what Facebook is as a service.

Esssentially, I see Facebook becoming what we might call a Personality Curation service. Timeline is a tool for putting together an electronic, real-time scrapbook of your life: you can determine what stories and information already present on your Facebook (in general, not just your profile but all thine activity upon ye Facebooke) to include in what is essentially an enormous content-management page (which, notably, is basically impossible to manage effectively because, one, you have to manage activities on a case-by-case basis and, two, there's no good way to flag certain kinds of posts or activities that may have occurred in the last - in my case - seven years), as well as having the option to go back in time and populate your life before Facebook (by, of course, adding it to Facebook: Epicentre of Meaningfulness), or giving yourself a splash banner of some sort (much as most blogs, like this one, possess). Now, more than ever before, users [can/will/should(n't)?] devote time to curating their personas on Facebook.

But I don't want to use Facebook for that. I never have. That's why my profile was static between its creation and sometime in 2009 when I wiped it and it became empty (except for a super bitchin' quote from Hannah Arendt's Human Condition). I use it, essentially, out of necessity, as quite literally "social media:" an object with which to perform social interactions.

Now, though, Facebook threatens to turn my social life into an object, and one that can be more easily searched than ever before: at the click of a button, one can return to September 2006 and see with whom I was talking then, and what I had to say about it. I've never had many photos on my account - and most of them are just wicked creatures pulled from the D&D Monstrous Manual - so there really wasn't much one could do in terms of skimming my profile. Now, though, you can skim through everything I've ever said, and although I don't really think I'm interesting enough to Facebook-stalk, it is more feasible. More importantly, though, I'm terribly afraid of seeing what kinds of things I said and did on Facebook four or five years ago - namely because Facebook is never a tool I used self-consciously as something radically public.

In short, Facebook will (or, rather, would, had I not kicked it to the curb) be doing things with my information in which I have no confidence - and, importantly, it's not just the "doing with" I don't appreciate, but also the information to be "done." This is, in short, an evolutionary result of the growth and alteration of Facebook.

Therefore, I've deleted my account and have begun the migration to Google Plus.

Which is actually really cool. I never really bothered to figure G+ out before, because, well, everyone's still on Facebook; but already, it seems pretty good to me. I don't think it's groundbreaking or earth-shattering compared to Facebook, but as a social media it's far more effective. For example, for my purposes, simply crossing my Facebook and Twitter activity in G+ makes things far simpler. (Note, too, that this means this is truly a revolution for me, since I intend to phase out of Twitter, also.) I can keep my various purposes distinct with Circles - fellow writers over here, friends over there, family right here and people I knew in high school whose success I will interminably compare to my own right there where I can keep an eye on them - and accomplish micro-blogging/sharing tasks without the need of switching screens.

As for personality curation? Shit, I've already got this whole fucking blog to take care of. I don't need a website, Facebook. Because I'm a real man and I've got my own.



  1. I'll still use Facebook, but only for my Personal Life, and mostly under protest.

    ...but Twitter is actually USEFUL, man. Blog (/Site), Google+, and Twitter: all linked together - that's all you need in Professional Life.

  2. I know what you mean. I've quit my Facebook and started a group on Google+ for those who have done the same. It's very new but hopefully it will grow as people are converted to the 'dark side' that is Google+