I’m nearing the ripe ole age of 30, and if I had to guess, I would say I’m in contact with maybe 5% of my Facebook friends. So what am I doing with 150ish friends? I just am glimpsing into their lives, seeing major life events. When I first started using Facebook back in the mid 2000s, it was an awesome way to keep in touch with my peers that I was already hanging out with. We would share photos and song lyrics, pretty benign stuff. As Facebook’s popularity grew, so did its user base. I’m friends with people I haven’t talked to in 10+ years, getting intimate looks into their lives and their children’s lives.
It has become somewhat of a habit to constantly check my Facebook app at every dull moment in my life. For what? I don’t know, maybe someone I knew 10 years ago did something interesting. When I stopped and looked at what I was doing and how much time I was spending doing it, it all seemed a little banal, or boring. The time I spend looking at my virtual friend’s lives is in complete opposition to who I want to be. I want to be a person of action, a person who creates things, builds things, and solves problems. Yet here I was spending hours a day looking at a feed of information that wasn’t really important.
Facebook supporters would say that I could just adjust my Facebook settings to let only that information that I want to see in. I could cull my friends list. This is true but I don’t feel like having another “thing” in my life to maintain. I work on coding projects in my free time, I maintain systems at work, so I don’t want my “free” time to be spent controlling what I see on Facebook.
If you’re a Facebook user, more power to you, I don’t have a problem with people being on Facebook. I just want to spend my limited time I have more wisely. I’d much rather spend time re-doing my website, writing a WordPress plugin, writing a jQuery plugin, making something useful, learning new skills, being more social.
Another point to be made is that there are many ways to keep in touch online. Facebook is a relatively new phenomenon. When I was in 7th grade back in 1997, I remember my “social network” was AIM, ICQ, and IRC channels. Facebook seems like a giant show-and-tell that I don’t want to be a part of anymore. It encourages you to share information out in the open, so you and your mutual friends can all look at it. I’ve always been a fan of smaller get togethers in real life, and Facebook is the Internet equivalent of a giant house party. I have the email addresses and phone numbers of my closest friends and family, that’s good enough for me now.
Facebook also isn’t a good platform for sharing meaningful content. If I were to post this on Facebook, it’d be glossed over because it is far too long to be consumed by the average user while there are 100+ more friends posting cute baby pictures or funny cat photos. Facebook has driven larger quantity of content to people at the sake of quality.
Writing this post makes me think of Louis CK’s bit with Conan O’Brien about why he won’t get his kids a cell phone. I feel like I was becoming one of those people that couldn’t just “be a person” and sit in their head for 2 minutes. Any break in conversation, any break in stimulation, I would reach for the phone and check Facebook. I’ve felt a little better in the past 2 days since deactivating.
So that’s my two cents on why I’m taking a step back from Facebook. I still plan on sharing cool things I find on the interwebs, and that’ll be what this blog will become.