Facebook is one of the most ingenious time-sucks known to man. I’m fully willing to admit that I’m not above looking at the vacation pictures of every single crush I’ve ever had, and all while on deadline at work, but that’s why I don’t give myself the temptation. The Internet outside of Facebook is an endless black hole of procrastination opportunities; toss in the chance to wallow in schadenfreude while staring at dozens of pictures of your ex’s lame new significant other, and it’s a wonder anything gets done at all anymore.
I’ve been wanting to get off of Facebook for a really long time, less due to the time suck and more due to privacy reasons, but also for a number of infractions in between. There are several hurdles to cross first, which typically boils down to one fact: everybody is on it.
Early on, it was cool, and I’m not above falling into that trap, but later it became the way I planned my schedule. People invited me to events on Facebook, so it was a way to discover (or even easily plan) big parties. It was also a great way to find the old connections I lost over the years.
Of course, now the luster is starting to tarnish and as with previous tech fads, Facebook is finally becoming more and more inessential to my lifestyle. There are three big factors to this:
I chose Twitter, or maybe Twitter chose me. Twitter perfected the open status update while Facebook long had the “I am” prefix trying to over-contextualize it. Facebook also sandwiched all the user-generated content amongst auto-generated cruft. My friend is no longer in the group I Want To Punch Slow Walkers In The Back Of The Neck? How scandalous! Facebook eventually got around to sorting it out, but even now their default homepage continues to prioritize old status updates over new ones. Anyway, I’ve already poured my heart out to the blue bird, which has always made my privacy clear.
Events became less eventful. Maybe it’s because my friends and I are getting older, or maybe I was just a body to inflate party numbers, but I rarely get, much less respond to, invites these days, and the invites I send out often go unanswered, as well. Instead, the people who showed up to my parties, and the parties I find myself going to, are the ones involving my actual friends.
My misanthropy plays out in full force. The people I interact with the most on Facebook are not my childhood friends, nor my high school friends, nor my college friends; they are my current friends. In fact, the majority of the old connections I’ve made have simply been receiving a friend request, answering it, and never hearing from them again. Yes, I have made a rare deeper connection with one or two other people, but mostly it’s my direct family and friends who already know how to get a hold of me.
There is, however, one hurdle that still locks me in: work. They’re interested in connecting with their Facebook audience during a time where I’m trying to bail, and since I am a web guy I don’t really have a choice. It’s my responsibility to figure it out.
I like to think I already have, but clearly Facebook is a culture-defining behemoth, and so my personal experience with it is in no way indicative of the way the world is using it. I wonder if, in the next few years, people will start to see it my way. In the history of this industry, nobody stays on top for too long.
In the meantime, my current strategy is voiding all personal information and connections available to Facebook, and aggressive paring of my Friend list. People who I haven’t spoken to, or who never sent me a message or like or comment, or who I just plain don’t like get cut and everyone else can enjoy my general radio silence.