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?
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.