Last week, I deactivated my Facebook account. Why? There were a number of reasons, and I’d just found myself using it less and less. Since they rolled out the redesign the news feed seemed out of date (it might take days for something to show up), but the live feed was full of repetitive drivel so it wasn’t helpful for keeping up with what my friends were doing.
Perhaps the beginning of the end for me was the constant Farmville updates – which I (stupidly) didn’t disable until I’d got to the point when it felt like I actively disliked half the people I was “friends” with. And I know, you can block Farmville (I eventually did) but there are so many other applications that it didn’t seem to make a difference.
I like ambient awareness, I do, but I was concerned that I’d got to the point that whilst I could get a bunch of people to come to a party, I didn’t have many people with whom I’ll exchange phone calls just because. Is that where we’re going? Where we’ll have a close-but-not-that-close relationship with so many more people, but fewer close relationships? Perhaps it’s just my experience as someone who moved to another continent about 18 months ago knowing no-one. I don’t know.
However an @ message on Twitter has started to feel more intimate than the vast majority of the communication I was receiving on Facebook. The sheer volume of “I’m having a terrible day” / “why does no-one love me?” / “I’m so incredibly busy and important” updates was drowning out the great stuff that does get shared. I prefer Twitter, the lack of requirement to reciprocate, the character limits. Yes some people are still full of angst and over-sharing, but you can just quietly unfollow them. As well as quitting Facebook, I also did some cleaning of my stream on Twitter – some people I find are better in lists, because I want my main stream to be manageable. And that’s OK, everyone does it differently. They can unfollow me too, and that’s up to them.
So far, I have moments where I would normally check Facebook and I pause, but it’s been pretty easy to give it up. Perhaps in a while I’ll reactivate it and just be one of those people who is on Facebook, but never uses it. Or I’ll just leave it, because you can’t commit Facebook suicide anymore.