Why Facebook is not my friend

I’ve un-friended Facebook.

I’ve haven’t been popping in to FB’s corporate blue cyber-lounge very much recently. FB was dropping down to the bottom of my To Do list. It was above “Pick up next-door cat’s poo in my garden” but below “Find lost sink plunger”. [We have sub-standard plumbing in this house.]

I decided that in 2013 I would *leave* Facebook. I’m not closing my account, but I’m just not actively checking it or updating it. It’s a bit of a relief actually.

Good things about leaving Facebook

  • I don’t have a constant parallel “I-must-remember-that-funny-thing-so-I-can-post-it-on-Facebook” soundtrack in my mind. I just laugh at it, and move on.
  • I am no longer jealous of distant colleagues’ luxurious holidays .
  • Calibrating a suite of ever-changing FB privacy settings? Ha! I laugh at your privacy settings.
  • I don’t need to comment on anyone’s pictures of their kids. Of course I think my friends’ children are funny, smart, adorable, stylish etc. I just don’t need to prove it.
  • I haven’t had to ‘friend’ either the generation above (parents, uncles, aunts) or below me (nieces etc). I have avoided breaching inter-generational FB sharing etiquette.
  • I have rung, and Skyped and emailed and met with and written to my Real Life Actual Friends. It has been lovely.

Bad things about leaving Facebook

[After a long pause… ]

  • I will not know what you ate at your wedding anniversary dinner.
  • I will not know that you liked the page for “Katie’s Bespoke Ceramic Yoghurt Cooler Pods”.
  • I will not know that you got divorced, deported, promoted, pregnant, married or mauled by a rare mammal on your charity fun run.

Life after Facebook

I read that Facebook is the email of the digital natives. Ubiquitous, functional and essential. I hope that’s wrong, as I’m going to live without it.

This was my first post on Facebook – 3 July 2007:

[From me to friend] Now I’m a zombie chump thanks to you.

This was my last post on Facebook – 9 December 2012:

2013 new year resolution SPOILER: Only 23 more sleeps until I leave* Facebook.

*I’m not even going to pretend to check/update very often. Just can’t be arsed.

There are plenty of other ways we can connect: twitter, linkedin, flickr, pinterest, my blog, your blog, email, skype, landline, mobile, post, or meet me for a coffee?

(But not google+… I suspect that I will be on that even less than FB.)

Here’s one I wrote earlier

We are all alone together. Looking down the hill, the lights of the party twinkled and crinkled through the trees. The wafts of voices floated up past me in the dark. I could see my friends arranging and rearranging themselves in to little clumps of conversation and mid-priced wine.

I am, like, so not popular. I am not a very popular person. I only have:

  • 90 Facebook friends (although if I friended my mum and all my uncles, aunts, cousins and their spouses I’d probably double that). [Update: As at 7 April 2011, I have 100 FB friends.]

13 responses to “Why Facebook is not my friend

  1. Pingback: I give up | A life less digital

  2. Pingback: Getting older and further away | A life less digital

  3. Hope I don’t need to attend Facebook Anon. as a recovering addict….

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  4. I applaud your decision, though. I wasn’t trying to change your mind, mainly to rationalise to myself why I haven’t done so. I even occasionally attempt (mostly unsuccessfully) to tempt digitally reclusive people onto Facebook, because I’d like to have that sort of occasional interaction with them that wouldn’t happen otherwise. And I hope one day I grow up enough to screen out all the distractions that incapacitate my brain.

    Yes, audiobooks would work for me. Had I not already perfected my podcast subscription habit (via Instacast on the iPhone). Seen in a positive light, this is my personal high-quality radio station where I will always have something edifying to listen to, especially whilst walking or washing up. Seen negatively, most of these are really no better than magazine articles, the habit makes me abhor silence when not reading or conversing, stops me listening to music, and leaves me no time for real books! (My favourite podcasts are Lexicon Valley, In Our Time, The Moth, Radiolab, 99% Invisible and the Economist.)

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    • Well done !! That stance aligns with your blog name – so good for you. Welcome to my world. I only just found your post on my rare monthly drop-into FB. No need to justify your decision – just be glad you made it with no regrets and stay on the wagon. Your friends will still be around regardless of the FB-free life. I like your blog ! We must Skype soon. Jx

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  5. I’m grudgingly staying with Facebook. A lot of interaction takes place there that simply would not exist otherwise. Brief conversations with acquaintances, that would never have happened via email or IRL. Occasionally, randomly, the conversations are really good and thoughtful. Many of these interactions are with people who are not geeks, and whom I wouldn’t see online anywhere else, and who talk about different stuff than all the people in my professional circle. Or I get to see the personal side of people I only know professionally. (But I regularly mute people whose updates bore or annoy me.) On balance I still feel this is better than nothing, and an acceptable price to pay for the many ways Facebook wastes your time.

    But then it’s such a pity it’s Facebook. I have no confidence that those conversations will be retrievable in future. They’re more impermanent than any other kind of conversation. I get downright depressed by friends who invest a lot of effort into Facebook, writing long thoughtful posts and storing all their photos there. When Facebook’s fortunes wane (and I’m pretty sure it will one day), they’ll probably lose all of that. Most of it will never enrich the wider internet, as blogs do. And that’s not even saying anything about the morality and risks of a private company making a business of people’s personal information.

    Of course, I hate the psychological effect the Internet and social media has on me, of which Facebook is only one example. The restless checking for recent updates, whilst ignoring the stuff you’ve already saved for later. The shallow diversions. The inability to concentrate on long-form writing (I’ve also stopped reading books). The pathetic craving for affirmation. The “filter bubble” of only being exposed to views already sympathetic to your own. But quitting Facebook wouldn’t cure these problems for me. I’m hoping my children grow up with better coping mechanisms; my brain did not evolve to deal with the Internet.

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    • Oh, the shame. You have made a serious, well-thought out and coherent comment on my flippant blog!

      As always, you make great observations… I know EXACTLY those FB-specific interactions that you refer to. I will possibly miss out on those a teeny bit, sometimes. But in my information-rich and time-poor life, I have made an executive decision that I do not need that particular input-stream.

      On balance, I will have more time to spend on the myriad of alternative communication channels out there.

      BTW – have you tried audiobooks? They are brilliant if you can’t face ‘proper’ reading, but still want to be part of literature and authorship.

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  6. You’re never too far from Facebook …

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  7. If I was a wise Jedi. I’d say “Find the social media path that you must travel down.” For me, FB is just too ‘surface’, and gives me a fake feeling of being connected. I prefer long-form, not shorthand comms!

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    • I know what you mean but I have to say given the load I have every day I feel so guilty when I sit down to do something unwork/child related. I haven’t read an adult book for about 6 years. I wish I could take the time to write (have been trying to write YOU a non electronic letter for a year -fail) I also like that I can filter the news on fb. I find news websites horrible. I really don’t want to know how feral people can be so I subscribe and read sites that are optimistic and positive. Also due to the whole mummy blogger thing so many of the companies I deal with release info on fb first. I don’t get a chance to read hundreds of blogs and newsfeed allows me to skim product info etc.
      I think if I wasn’t trying to run my own business I probably wouldn’t be on fb as much. The main problem is also so many of my friends work. If they are not os they are gainfully employed in busy places that do not allow for long discussions… or they are single and I don’t drink.
      Maybe I should join a book club… but oops I don’t read at the moment.
      I have to say I’m not big on blogs. SO many mummy ones make me feel like year 9 playground politics again.. the cool must follow bloggers, the narky ones, the ones with the book deal, the syndicated ones… It seems like everyone is working on some book deal or trying to sell you something without revealing their sponsors. I guess I’m a bit cynical about the whole thing. I know people have to make money but I just wish more of them were upfront about it.

      So there it is my rant. Now aren’t you glad fb limits how much I can say 😀

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  8. aggghhh… OK so I wrote this half hour reply tried to post it and didn’t realise when I put in my email that I had started a blog years ago… couldn’t remember the password and it lost the LONG thought out comment!!! I guess that answers it in a way. I like fb because I don’t spend time composing something heartfelt about seeing what my friends who have moved away do and losing it. Most people I’ve loved have moved away. I like seeing their photos, I love commenting on their kids growing up I really do. It makes me feel like I’m still a part of their lives. I love seeing trivial things they post. It is like still having a conversation with them in short bursts.
    I love reading that they are happy (not so much when they are sad) Skype is OK but the last conversation I had with Beth in NYC made me realise just how painfully and desperately I miss her and just how much she gets me more than anyone I know. I wish she was on fb then she could be a part of my life every day. I’d really like that.
    I guess having a kid’s shop and having most of my friends move away makes me like fb. I wish I could still have everyone around me, I like seeing what they see. I like silly photos of streets and random thoughts. Blogs and emails require so much thought and time which I don’t have (this is making me late for work lol) Winston bought me a pedometer and I do 15,000 steps most days more, just running around no real exercise. I wish I could have coffee but I know that as the cold brown liquid that gets made in the morning and consumed at 4pm. I guess I like facebook because I miss having contact with people I know throughout the day. and I tend to suffer from too many words so it keeps me brief lol if not frequent .
    Miss you too
    e

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