It’s been nearly a year since I deleted my LinkedIn profile and well, I’m still here. Nothing changed in my life or my employment once ridding myself of that social network, beyond having one less social network looming out there.
At the time, I made the case that LinkedIn was useless to me (a burden even) but that Facebook held some worth, if not for the “valuable” ability to stalk people I’d just met once, then for integrating in to websites for clients and to test Facebook-y things. I’ve come full circle on this as Editor in Chief (the vanguard in my life for all things informational on the internet) deleted her account last month and was very happy to have done so. I started thinking about it and came to the same conclusion that I would probably be better off without it.
In the proverbial nutshell, I find Facebook to be a time waster that has little added value, makes us all a great deal lazier, and is getting to be creepier and creepier in how they keep an eye on you and employers want to log in to your account. For most of last year, I tried to co-exist with Facebook through a variety of methods. One was to have two separate accounts: personal and professional. Then, as an avid user of Firefox, I tossed the personal one in to Explorer (which I never used except to access Facebook) and the professional one in to Chrome (which I use sometimes). To some degree this worked to limit my interaction with this half billion strong beast.
Still, I accessed my personal account 5-10 times a day depending on how bored/unproductive I was feeling. If I were to scratch my head 5-10 times a day, I’d have a nicely-itched scalp. If I went out for a 500m walk 5-10 times a day, I’d be even healthier. Suffice to say, those brief flecks of interaction provided nothing to me, but wasting time and not actually doing or making anything.
This issue of separation for the sake of creation is wonderfully written about in this New York Times article that sums up a great deal of how I feel about our information overload. And the issue of spending less time in social media to make more is put excellently in one of Hugh MacLeod’s latest articles:
My social media strategy these days has only three words: “Draw more cartoons”. In other words, create more real work, ACTUAL PRODUCT (in my case, cartoons) and the social media will fall into place, but only AFTER I’ve done the thing that actually pays the bills. Getting all obsessed with social media BEFORE you’ve created something of real, lasting value is putting the cart before the horse. But that’s an easy mistake to make online, I’m as guilty of that as anyone. Never again.
But beyond personal ambitions and New Year’s resolution-esque ideas, I register this as one small voice in what will hopefully be a larger protest against the channeling of the web, which must remain an open source of information and knowledge. Matt Mullenweg touched on this and despite his being seven years younger than myself, he said a quote that is very much how I feel, “I hope this is the most closed it will ever be in my lifetime.”
You see, Facebook is doing everything that it can to make Facebook be the only web you see. I refuse to be part of that. That’s not the web that I spent 16 hour days programming websites in my 20’s to be part of. Plus, it offers a single point of failure whether that be political, technical, or hell, even spiritual. This mess of sites that we need to search out, find, and actively follow are the beauty of the web we know as we seek to engage it, not have it broadcast at us until we become numb and it ineffectual.
But that’s it. Facebook is gone for me. You want to reach me, you do it here on this site, or by using that later 20th-century invention called “email”. Follow my Twitter if you like, but again, that’s a broadcast medium, but one that I currently find less creepy than Facebook. Who knows, in a year, I might be deleting it as well. Best yet would be to stop by my place and have a chat at a café, like we all used to do a mere decade and a half ago.
By the way, for those who want to delete their Facebook account, go to this link, but make sure you follow the advice in this group. I downloaded my profile archive just for the hell of it. I find it quite fitting that all my valuable information from this supposedly $100 billion company could nearly be stored on an old school 3.5″ floppy disk.
Worth, Facebook doesn’t have it.