Thursday, 28 June 2007

Facebook no more

After a month of playing about with it, I've deleted my Facebook account.

I say 'deleted', but Facebook doesn't like the idea of you leaving completely. It only lets you 'deactivate' your account, and then it makes you go through a kind of exit interview, in which it asks you why you're leaving and tries to make you stay by promising to make things better.

I ticked my reason for leaving as 'I don't find Facebook useful'. The site immediately suggested that this is because I don't have enough friends. In fact, it said:

You might find Facebook more useful if you connect with more of your friends. Check out our Friend Finder, or search for them.

Also, try taking a tour of Facebook to learn about features others find useful.

Ooh, clingy!

Tellingly, other potential reasons it gives you for wanting to leave include 'I don't feel safe on the site' and 'Facebook is resulting in social drama for me'.

As far as I'm concerned, these reasons don't even cover the half of it. Not only does Facebook make me feel unsafe, it also makes me do things I don't want to do, and think things I don't want to think.

Being on the internet under my real name makes me feel anxious (this blog doesn't count because no one is reading it). Mixing up my professional life and my personal life makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Spending hours seeing which of my friends have the most celebrity friends makes me feel disgusted with myself.

And it goes on. The very thought that someone might 'tag' me in a photo, for the whole world to see what I look like, frightens me beyond belief. Having a dream - an actual dream! - about trying to make Facebook friends with Cory Doctorow is just not right.

And to cap it all, I ended up joining a group called 'I love pants', simply because it came up in discussion on my other blog and it seemed like a laugh.

And that's the thing about Facebook; all this indiscretion seems like a laugh. Everyone's doing it - even Alan Rusbridger! - so it must be OK, right?

Wrong. It feels like getting drunk at university and playing the Truth Game, or strip Monopoly. It's fun at the time, but afterwards you really regret saying that thing, or removing that last item of clothing. You long to return to a more innocent, more guarded time, when you had a bit of self-respect and maybe even a bit of mystique.

Once you're on Facebook, all mystique is gone. It doesn't matter if you're Prince William or Prins Thomas, you boil down to a list of books you've read and what sort of friends you've got. It's so uniform and regimented it makes you nostalgic for the riotous self-expression of MySpace or Geocities.

Before I left, I looked at Emily Bell's profile page and noticed that she's giving Facebook another month before it becomes passé. I don't think it'll be long before 'not being on Facebook' is much cooler than 'being on Facebook'. Start brushing up for your exit interview.


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11 comments:

cello said...

You are so right. I have left the 'I love Pants' group too, because what might have been funny using an internet name was just silly as the real me. And there are already 2 other groups with the same name (but the wrong definition of pants).

I am not as strong as you about leaving Facebook entirely, simply because it seems a bit rude to have invited all these people to be your friends and to then abandon them. But I am very bored. It's not useful at all. And you're right, it brings out my worst, competitive, prevaricating, time-wasting streak. And your blogs don't do that at all. *Ahem*

Fiona Blamey said...

I don't know if I'm right. I'm in two minds, as ever - part of me thinks I should be bold and fearless and embrace 'living the public life', as Jeff Jarvis is calling it. And that you'll be having a huge thrilling party on Facebook with all the other beautiful people while I'm stuck here in my dark little corner.

And then another part of me looked at what's actually important in my life, and it turned out that Facebook wasn't, really. I can't see that Facebook can give me anything that I don't already get from blogging, so out it goes.

I'm already twiddling my thumbs wondering what to do with all the free time, though...

Briana said...

I started a group on Facebook where I had almost 20,000 members. It was against a large university in the city of Halifax - Dalhousie University. This group "
Stop Dalhousie University from murdering dogs and puppies" just got deleted by FACEBOOK. So much for freedom of speech......

Fiona Blamey said...

That's an interesting story, Briana. The university's official statement says it requested the group to be taken down after the discussion wall was removed, because removing the discussion wall effectively took away its right to reply. Does that tally with your experience?

Anonymous said...

Amen to leaving Facebook...for all the right reasons that have been mentioned. As for what to do with all that previously wasted time...I'm learning to tap dance! :)

Anonymous said...

Seriously

I am so sick of facebook

I feel that it is compulsion that really brings out that weird social voyeur side to myself, really weird. You know what I mean?

s said...

I joined FB in 2006, but didn't really start using it until last summer. I deactivated my account over a month ago and I'm so happy with that decision that I decided to find a random anti-FB blog and post about it. Screw FB and the narcissistic a-holes who live there.

Sarah said...

I'm feeling the need to delete my account. At first, it was nice talking with all of my friends. Now it feels so impersonal. I would rather someone take the time to call me, or I take the time to call them. Instead, it's just a bunch of words on a page. I don't know if someone is being sarcastic or what not. Plus, I have been so distracted. Now that I am in college, I need to study what seems like all the time! I feel so stressed out. So now, I am only going to be checking it once a week, hoping that it will enable me to do my homework. Wish me luck or at least pray for me. Prayer would be better :-)

Anonymous said...

Amen to this. I can't stand facebook. It does my head in. I quit it before I introduced it fully into my life. I am nostalgic of the days when you could go out and not have 'facebook picture time.' We're only in McDonalds, there's no need!

Big L said...

you V.Right .. I liked ur article.. and honestly I found out that facebook is a real waste time ... I guess that each one of us has some other important things in life than just to be looking at what ur freinds are going to do, did, or done, and to goin too much group u don't have enough time to participate in even if u did.. what would u gain ??
any ways thanx .. and ya for sure it's not going to be long for ppl to realize that it's cooler not be in FACEBOOK "I prefare FACECOVER" cuz there is no actual "phsyical" contact with ur friends!
thanx !!

pao.2120 said...

Para buscar de Dios, no se necesita FACEBOOK, yo por ejemplo no tengo amigos de ninguna clase, con la única persona que yo cuento es con Dios, les animo a recibir a Cristo como Señor y salvador personal.