Feb 07

Done With Facebook

I quit Facebook. And when I quit, I stay quit.

Not to protest anything. Not to make any sort of statement. I’m just sick of the platform.

It doesn’t work for me.

I want to get some value out of my time on the internet. That means, I want to get more out of it than I put in. Or, at least, break even on the deal. Or get something.

I haven’t been able to get anything from Facebook for quite some time.

Not that I’ve put much into Facebook. I’ve tried feeding my other stuff in there (my blog, my twitter, my tumblr) but, let’s face it, aside from being annoying, that’s just a life support system. It’s time to pull the plug.

I’m not even going to say that Facebook sucks. Quite a few people get something out of it. They maintain contact with loved ones, old friends and organize events.

But if you can’t find me on the internet without Facebook, I’m not sure I want you to. Like, if you need Zuckerberg to suggest that we be friends, I’m not sure we should be. My loved ones and friends possess my email, my phone number, twitter handle and address. To everyone else, I’m available.

I don’t need to be constantly knocking at your door.

As far as organizing events, Facebook has always seemed overrated. If I want to invite you to anything, I’ll drop you an email, tell you here or on twitter. You can do the same by me. We can all save ourselves the stress of lying about our intentions on an event page.

Anything else I’ve ever tried to set up through Facebook has either turned into an overcomplicated shitshow or never happened at all. Or both. It takes effort and there’s no return.

I’ve never met a new person there. All I have is a fossil record of people I have met.

Who needs that?

If one thing pushed me over the edge with Facebook, it was this recent article in the New York Times: The Death of the Cyberflâneur that coincided with me trying to change some of my internet habits.

It starts with:

THE other day, while I was rummaging through a stack of oldish articles on the future of the Internet, an obscure little essay from 1998 — published, of all places, on a Web site called Ceramics Today — caught my eye. Celebrating the rise of the “cyberflâneur,” it painted a bright digital future, brimming with playfulness, intrigue and serendipity, that awaited this mysterious online type. This vision of tomorrow seemed all but inevitable at a time when “what the city and the street were to the Flâneur, the Internet and the Superhighway have become to the Cyberflâneur.”

Now, the strange thing is, I know that old theory. I might have even read the article. That sort of talk was contemporary with the start of this blog. That sort of practise is the source of The Grumpy Owl.

This is a notebook meant to bookmark the places I would never return to on my strolls.

And Facebook is, at its heart, anti-strolling.

You can certainly follow and you can stalk. You can lurk. But stroll?


To do that, you need to get off the ranch.

Facebook has always been a suburb. It thrived after MySpace suffered from white flight. People (specifically, white people)  wanted the neatly trimmed lawns and soothing, quiet experience of Facebook after the noisy, boorish neighbours, hookers and unkempt lawns of MySpace.

Its always middle class aesthetic has since undergone another change. It’s now the Internet’s bureaucracy. It’s everywhere and ever-growing. Everything must pass through it.

Facebook keeps making changes to maintain the appearance of relevance. Most of the time, I was only engaging it to prevent it from intruding on other spaces. Changing my privacy settings, trying to figure out where they moved everything and so forth. And for what?

To see today’s meme?

Fuck it.

Facebook is not just the opposite of how I like to experience the Internet, it’s poisonous to how I like to experience the internet. The time I spend checking Facebook for something –anything– of interest, is time not spent strolling through the arcades. It’s time not discovering new places, people and things. It makes the internet boring. It makes it into shoddy tv.

Maybe you get something out of Facebook. Like, I said, some people do. But it might be time to ask yourself a few questions:

Have you discovered any of your favourite parts of the Internet through Facebook? If so, how long ago was it?

Has it improved more relationships than it’s damaged?

Is it the only place people can find you? And do you want to be found by them?

Have you ever found anyone worth finding? How long ago was that?

Has anyone ever introduced you to anyone else through it? Have you ever introduced anyone to anyone else through it?

Do you create any original content for Facebook or do you just feed other stuff into it?

Is it a parasite?

Do you even want to be there or do you feel more like a hostage? Like you need to be there?

Facebook says it connects people. You feel connected?

There’s no right or wrong answer to those questions. They’re just meant to start your investigation of the service’s value. I get none. I get negative value.

I like social media. I enjoy the bar-room chatter of twitter and the teenage, psychedelic underbelly of Tumblr. Facebook just bores me stupid.

I’d rather read people than read about them. Facebook, at its best, is just a file a person builds about themselves. It’s an intelligence report from a dubious source.

And I’m done with it.

It feels good.


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  1. xenia

    Facebook is not only boring in and of itself, it also creates more boredom because it is so pointless and that makes people even more desperate to alleviate their boredom so they turn to facebook resulting in a downward spiral of boredom. I never had a facebook, peoples’ response is always “you’re one of THOSE people”. Yes, I am one of those people I tell them. They never try to convince me I should get one, they shrug or frown but present no argument, sometimes I get a sincere “good for you” or ” I’m getting rid of my facbook some day” with a hopeless grin. I usually don’t know what to say next. I get slightly uncomfortable like I’m a free person having a heart to heart with a prisoner, or like a rich fucker having a deep conversation with a homeless person, or like a racist prick having a genuinely meaningful conversation with a black person because of some odd circumstance. We both know we are going to go back to doing what we were doing, it’s so sad. Just to clarify I don’t think I’m better than people who use facebook, just freer. It’s always useless trying to get people to quit, they have to do it on their own.

    1. Ryan Oakley

      I don’t think the service is, in and of itself, a bad one. I think its a bloated one and unsuited to me. But I do know people who get some value out of it.

      It kinda makes me think of MySpace. I’m not sure if the service ever really collapsed or if it was the victim of a bubble. It’s still good for bands. Rather than collapse, it seems to have contracted to its proper level.

      I think Facebook provides a niche service. Quite useful for some people in some circumstances but nothing that justifies its status as a behemoth. It tries to be all things to all people all the time and, in my experience, it just isn’t. But it does have its place.

      Just not for me.

  2. gern

    just left a few moments ago.

    tired of the diatribe and negativity along with out of context perceptions. my friends have my phone and email. can go from there….

  3. Ashley

    I just deactivated mine a few days ago and am waiting for the final 14th day when it’s, supposedly, permanently deleted.

    Does anyone know if this “permanent deletion” actual goes through?

    It’s amazing how much time you dont notice losing while taking a lazy gander around the newsfeed. Mentally you still feel as though you’re doing something. I could ramble on about my theories and how facebook is making everyone lazy but I’ll save my rants for my own blog instead of bombarding yours. Haha.

    I really enjoyed this blog post though. I also came to the conclusion that Facebook is the opposite of how I like to experience the internet- and let’s just be honest- relationships, interactions in general, etc. It’s all intertwined in facebook now. People act like facebook isnt a big deal when it suits their benefiting to a situation, then turn around and go into cardiac arrest if someone doesnt post happy birthday on their wall or change their relationship status or “like” their new page.
    If people started recording down on paper how much stress or annoyance facebook causes them on a daily basis, I bet they’d think twice.
    Well actually..who am I kidding. They probably wouldnt.

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