It’s become increasingly clear that Facebook has been breaking my Internet, and so my New Year’s resolution this year is to delete my account.
Sure, Facebook is convenient, but at far too high a systemic cost. Let’s list the ways:
- Facebook friend bias: I know all about the people who post prolifically. Some of my best friends, however, don’t post often, or ever. Facebook provides a semblance of being in touch with friends, but that’s not actually the case. Instead, in 2014, I’ll be making a real effort to stay up to date with the friends that matter, one on one.
- Too many Likes: Likes are cheap and easy, and so is the occasional facile one-liner, but that is now a problem — they are an awful proxy for actual conversation, which gets crowded out. I want my communication to get harder again because that is the price of meaningful conversation.
- Proprietary and closed: Facebook’s business model depends on mediating relationships within a proprietary format. Open data has no place in this vision. Facebook disincentivizes timeline actions where the content and subsequent conversation is held off-platform, because it cannot monetize them there. Sure, Twitter and Linkedin have a similar problem, but these platforms are just now far less ubiquitous than Facebook. It’s Facebook’s size that undermines the sustainability of an open web, so I feel I should help mitigate the problem by withdrawing my vote.
- Low signal to noise: Twitter is far better at telling me what I should read online. Linkedin is more relevant for work. Flickr has far higher quality photos. Feedly is getting smarter about which articles in my RSS feed collection I should pay attention to. Facebook is best as a tool for procrastination through meme propagation — and that is probably something I need less of.
- Panopticon: Hey NSA, let me help you make your haystack a little smaller by removing my bit of it.
- You are not a gadget: To paraphrase Jaron Lanier, I am not my Facebook account. Facebook is an imperfect window into my soul. A far better soul-baring tool would be my blog. Recently, I’ve had a real urge to start writing longer-format stuff again. Facebook becomes a distraction.
I’ve always suspected it could end this way with Facebook, so I’ve made sure since the start to hedge my investment in this platform: I’ve never uploaded media exclusively to Facebook, but linked instead to Flickr and my own sites, even when Facebook started throttling the eyeballs for such posts. I also made sure to never use Facebook as my single sign-on. As a result, the severing should be relatively bloodless.
I’ll leave this post up until the end of January 1 before doing the deed. From now on, do reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have some great posts planned for stefangeens.com. See you on the other side. Happy New Year!
Update: I feel I should add a screenshot of the Facebook comments this post generated: