I wasn’t a particularly early adopter of Facebook; I’ve been a member for about five years or so and have fewer than a hundred friends.
Even so I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with it, to the point where I’m now ready to pull the plug on my relationship with Facebook.
It was great at first
I wasn’t sure initially what exactly I was going to do with it…then I started to use it to share photographs and moments with close friends and family, which was awesome.
I went through that stage everyone goes through where old acquaintances from school find you and friend you – thankfully I cottoned on pretty quickly (although not immediately) that you don’t have to accept friend invites from your distant past just to be polite.
The relationship got pretty heavy
In the last year or so I’ve been posting pretty frequently on Facebook, and I found that when I wasn’t I would quite often be subconsciously ‘posting’ in my head – forming thoughts and observations in my head that were sort of ‘status update-ish’.
None of this concerned me unduly. Not even those occasions where I’ve found myself ‘checking in’ on Facebook, letting the world know "the family is at Legoland today" Or "we’re out for a romantic meal for two – food nice, service poor."
The magic went out of the relationship
The thing that has tipped me over the edge, the thing that will ultimately push me to sever ties with Facebook, is the ever-increasing noise that is creeping into what used to be a window into the world of people I was interested in, but not necessarily close to.
I don’t want to know when my friends ‘Like’ Emeli Sande or Starbucks. I don’t want to see pictures of people holding up "my wife said she’d leave me if I didn’t get a million likes" and I don’t want to read status updates that have been generated randomly by an app.
I don’t want to see cartoon cats saying "is it Monday already?" and I’m not stupid enough to think ‘liking’ a picture is going to magically unveil ‘what happens next’. I don’t want to receive hoax emails in volumes that I haven’t experienced since the early ’90s and I don’t want to play Facebook poker with people I’ve never met.
We need to see other people
Facebook is broken. It has become so polluted with social marketers and companies trying to figure out how to monetize it that its original function and purpose has disappeared beyond all recognition.
I will miss being able to share my thoughts and experiences with my friends and loved ones; I will miss being able to dip in and out of their daily lives.
Perhaps over time I’ll be able to establish an equivalent mechanism through something like Flickr, or a paid social network like App.Net, though I’m not optimistic.
More likely is that I’ll need to rethink how I interact with my Facebook ‘friends’ – deciding who I can live without, who I can establish alternative ‘light-touch’ communication with and who deserves better from me than the odd status update about trips to Legoland.
Ultimately, I think me and my relationships will be better for it.