So, over the last couple of days there have been a .. “series of unfortunate events” that has lead me to de-Facebook my life. My reasons for this are numerous, and this has been a long time coming to be honest. The short TL,DR edition is that the downsides now far outweigh the upsides. If you want to know the reasons, this (rather lengthy post) should sum it up.
1. Irreconcilable Philosophical Differences
There isn’t one specific policy decision that Facebook has done that pissed me off: it’s seemingly been ALL OF THEM in the past year or so. The “real name” policy debacle. Censorship issues, and inconsistent application of their “Community Standards.” The increasing tendrils of Facebook into things I don’t want them in.
And we haven’t even gotten to the invasive marketing thing.
We all know that Facebook isn’t alone in this category. Google is as bad, if not worse. But I still believe, in the end, Google uses the advertising as a vehicle to provide me better content: not just targeted ads, but relevant JIT search results (or even before I know I need it, which Google Now has an alarming capacity to deliver). I feel less “exploited” by Google. Whether that faith in “don’t be evil” is misplaced or not is certainly open for argument. But I’m a lot less angry when Google missteps, for better or for worse. The point is, I feel Google’s goal really is to deliver me the information I want when I want it. Facebook’s goal is a lot more nebulous and, I think, nefarious.
2. Desire to “own” my words and to be a “grown-up.”
I’ve always been a proponent of “hosting it myself”, because only when you control the server that hosts your content (regardless of what that “content” is) can you really own it. I’ve resisted using a lot of the photo-sharing services over the years for that exact reason. I operate my own website, and now my own Diaspora server.
It’s not just an ownership thing, though. Facebook has always felt like a junior-high school, with the petty drama and note-passing. Facebook contains about 80% drivel and about 20% interesting content. The signal-to-noise level is overwhelming.
I guess I’m finally growing up.
3. It’s not worth the emotional downsides
This is a big one too. it’s partially related to that school-like setting I talk about above, but it’s deeper than that. Studies are revealing something I’ve always suspected: social networks don’t necessarily increase our happiness and connectivity to others. In fact, there’s strong evidence the exact opposite is true.
My life has had a lot of emotional ups and downs over the past few years. At every turn downward I’ve had some (in the grand scheme of things) small irritant from Facebook get under my skin. In every case the vector has been from somebody who only cursorily knows me. I have a lot of true friends.. people who know me, understand my quirks, and most importantly give at least a portion of a shit about me.
Those who care about me, I feel, will continue to follow me wherever I go. They followed me from LiveJournal, they’ll likely follow me towards Diaspora and this website.
So, what’s next?
Well, obviously, it’s time I dusted off this old website and actually use it again. I should reinstall the federated login systems so people can comment without creating accounts. There’s lots of other stuff I should do here. And I feel that doing some of those things will allow me to hone some of my rusty sysadmin skills too, and give me projects I can work on.
And then there’s Diaspora.
For those who don’t know, Diaspora is a social networking alternative. I won’t go into a long and involved tutorial on how Diaspora works here (that will be another post), but it’s likely the social networking I’m going to use in the future. In brief, Diaspora is a meshed social networking service.. small communities run pods, which talk to other pods to pass posts from individuals across the grid. I’m running a pod myself. If you are new to Diaspora and want to follow my posts, you can join at https://diaspora.feedle.net. If you join my Diaspora pod or another one, you can follow “firstname.lastname@example.org” to get the Facebook-style short blurbs about what’s going on in my life. (There is an Android client as well..) For IM, Google’s ever evolving chat system is a good choice.
And I’ll still tweet now and then.
But I’m going to slowly be disconnecting from Facebook. I have already disabled the Facebook client on my phone, and uninstalled Facebook Messenger. I likely will only post important stuff on Facebook, and they will be crossposts from Diaspora.
Thanks for listening to my rants, and hopefully we’ll see you out there.