05 July 2010

Why I quit Facebook

I deleted my FB account on July 1st, and here's why:*
  • I understand two types of social interaction: one-on-one and many-to-many (a community of about 100). FB is neither, since my "friends" are broadcasting to me and many other people I don't know. FB updates, photos, etc. are put up, but there's no clear way of knowing who sees what and what they think about it. Broadcasting is not social. (Blogging is different, because the relationship -- writer to reader or among commentators -- is clear.)

  • FB is often Fakebook, a place where people create their perfect version of themselves. That's not an issue per se (we all like to see our best sides), but this exercise can get out of control, so that people spend more time living in an imaginary world and less time face-to-face with people who see them in all their dimensions, good and bad.

  • People who say they are "Facebook friends" (with air quotes) are often really acquaintances. Friendship takes time, but FB makes it easy for people to deceive themselves, to think that they have a friend when they really have a connection to a profile with photos, jokes, and so on.
  • FB's business model is broken and ethics are shallow.

  • I barely have time for face-to-face, email and blog communications. If I can only go to FB once a week, then why bother?

  • This is the third time I have quit. Although some may say I'll be back, like I was before, I say that there's a reason for my rejection of FB, and third time's the charm.
I will miss two things: FB profiles tend to have updated contact information, and I sometimes like the serendipitous way that I learn what's going on in people's lives. I've weighted those benefits against the costs and found them insufficient.

Bottom Line: FB does not serve my social needs, so I go back to what works. Drinks anyone?
* This long explanation is not meant to be egotistical. It contains my thoughts on this social phenomenon, one in which I was a participant for 3 years...

9 comments:

  1. I had someone walk up to me once and say, "Hi, my name is Dan; we're facebook friends." It happens that I knew both facts, but it's interesting that he thought the former would need to be announced in spite of the latter.

    I don't see any of your negatives as terribly compelling, though. I don't get why your inability to categorize the interaction makes you want to avoid it, why I should care who (in addition to my friends*) can see a picture, or why I should worry too much that this "friendship" does not actually constitute friendship. The ability to get contact information (from those who post it) and the ability to more easily keep up with a lot of people, often friends who live a long way away, seems much more valuable to me than any cost I could impute to those negatives. (I don't waste lots of time on facebook; frequently I log in and log out within a few minutes.)

    *A lot of the pictures I see on facebook are put up by people with whom I'll have say 50 friends in common with a particular connection. I know that these people can see the picture, whether they do see it or not. I don't really care about who else sees it.

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  2. zh emails: "What a timely post about FB because just two days ago I also thought about deleting my account for the very same reasons."

    JWT emails: "I quit after a month. A wacked out daughter of one of J's sisters took it over with endless, inane postings of her knitting and her garden. I don't miss it at all and you won't either."

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  3. JR emails: "The reasons you've stated for quitting FB are the same reasons I've never joined!"

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  4. I deleted my Facebook a few months ago, after increasing privacy concerns forced me to evaluate what FB was *really* doing for me...or to me. At first it was tough, I found myself wondering what was going on in the lives of people whom I would characterize as "somewhat close friends."

    In the end, I realized that I was not missing much, and that leaving FB allowed me to spend more time developing content using mediums that I found way more engaging.

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  5. Obviously you'll have to visit Alaska so I can buy you a drink.

    This is my take - I don't know if it is a positive or a negative:
    We evolved living in small villages, where you saw all of your friends, acquaintances, etc every day. You didn't normally even need to have a conversation to know what was going on with them. You saw them kiss their new boyfriend by the hut door, you saw the new baby, you overheard the conversation with the neighbor. Now, we move and travel and have friends in lots of other places, and to keep up, if we do keep up, we call, or comment on blogs, or, more commonly, send out periodic emails, where we repeat all of our news (among other things). FB fills in a bit for me by allowing me to see my old college roomie's new baby or know what my old friends are up to without a lengthy conversation. If I didn't sit at a computer all day at work, though, I would not have a FB account and would probably just keep up with my local friends. I may be saner that way.

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  6. It's a good idea to spread some ideas around, keep up with old friends. Which proves your point that its mixed: business and friends (real friends, not Friends). But for now, at least, I seem to like it.

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  7. EG emails: "I quit it and haven't missed it for a moment. I'm sure my friends have cats that still do cute things, but for water related news, Twitter is more focussed and for friendship, personal is best. Well done David!"

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  8. CC emails: "Bravo for quitting Facebook, it always seemed like a Big Brother conspiracy!"

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  9. SZ emails: "Who cares anyway who sees what and what they think about it. Simply I see it as a great tool, if you travel a lot and want to keep ion touch and it is up to me to control who's in my FB, every so often I delete people I know i'll never (care to) see again. In europe its used more for friendship, less for 'marketing' and it works fabulously to connect to friends, give messages to a bunch of people at the same time and just generally, feel your friends alive and around. Its to our discipline to use it rather than become used by it"

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