I could write this post so many different ways and with so many different reasons, but I’ve decided to write it tonight, so you’re getting tonight’s version – such is the nature of blogging.
I remember Kathryn calling me one day while I was a student working at IOC, back in 2006. She said I should sign up for something called Facebook, and that most of our friends were already on it. After describing it to me – “a website where you can share photos and post your thoughts and stuff” – I thought it sounded… bizarre. But she was insistent that I sign up, so I went along with it.
Shortly after opening my account I had friend invitations from various people I’d known throughout my youth, including a fair number of high school acquaintances that I’m sure wouldn’t have considered me a real-life friend. I accepted most of them anyway, but in the early days I remained wary of Facebook and its purposes. Over the years I guess I’ve adapted to the idea of displaying my life pseudo-publicly online, given the fact that I am reasonably active on Facebook and that I write this blog. I’ve done a couple of small friend culls, but I would say I’m no longer wary.
When I mentioned the other day that I’d be getting rid of Facebook in the near future, one of my colleagues jokingly asked what Mark Zuckerberg had done to me. There’s really nothing he’s done to me, and I haven’t got anything against him or Facebook. I don’t feel like he’s invaded my privacy, even though he certainly has (with my consent, of course). Nah, it’s not because of online security or privacy concerns that I’ve decided to ditch Facebook; it’s more about math.
I love math. It has such an elegant, straightforward way of speaking truth. The other day I was thinking to myself that I probably spend about half an hour to 45 minutes on Facebook every day, once you add up bits here and there. Taking the lower end of the spectrum, that would add up to about 15 hours a month, or one full day per month of waking time. It’s not an insane amount, if it weren’t for a couple of factors:
1) I don’t actually like spending time on Facebook. When it comes down to it, I just don’t like it.
2) There are a number of things I really want to do (writing/recording music, a whole foods course Kathryn paid for a long time ago, writing on this blog, etc.) that I currently feel like I don’t have enough time for
3) Going on Facebook is easier than doing those other things, and more entertaining, in a shallow, visually stimulating kind of way. As long as it’s there, I know I’ll keep reverting to it in my free time.
I know a lot of people have scaled back their friend lists and found it resulted in a more positive Facebook experience, but I don’t think that would resolve the issue for me. As long as I have Facebook, I’m going to keep wasting time on it, and it’s not really a matter of wasting time on people I like more or like less, or whose opinions I agree with more or less, or who complain more or less.
I’m not withdrawing and becoming a social media recluse (yet), I’m just jumping the Facebook ship. I did the same thing with Twitter a few months ago and it’s been a relief. There have probably been about 2 moments when I kind of wanted Twitter back, but mostly it’s been nice not to have that extra task to keep up with/be distracted by. Admittedly, Twitter was worse than Facebook; I don’t have to pretend I’m interested in Facebook at all, I genuinely am. Twitter was always forced for me, whereas Facebook comes more naturally. But it’s just too easy, and it doesn’t pay off.
One phrase I live by, which I can’t attribute to any particular source and probably isn’t eloquent enough to bother attributing, is the following:
‘Anything of value takes work’
And what I’ve determined is that Facebook produces no value for me. It takes no work, and nothing good comes out of it, other than fleeting moments of amusement. I’ve still got thoughts to flesh out and I like to share them, and I’ll do so via this blog. Go to the homepage and click the follow button if you want to keep up with my thoughts and life. If you think you’ll miss interacting with me, leave a comment every now and then. I’m also going to stick with LinkedIn, precisely because it bores me yet allows me to retain some connection to other professionals and friends I’ve worked with. I’m not interested in cruising around on the LinkedIn app or going to the website, but if I want to find a job someday or ask a question to an old colleague, it should be easier to do.
Another factor to consider is that Kathryn will be keeping Facebook, so I’m not losing touch with family or close friends by leaving it behind.
So after seven years, farewell Facebook. I’ll give it a couple of days so people see my status linking to this blog post, and then I’m flicking the switch. It’s been fun, but I don’t need you any more.