Leaving Facebook

I left Facebook and at first that really felt like something I should write about. The first few times I tried to get something down onto the page though, it just didn’t go anywhere particularly interesting. The problem?
I was trying to make it all out to be a much bigger deal than it really is. The presumed emotional weight of the whole shebang just didn’t match up to the skinny little verbal struts I found myself writing and rewriting.

You might not have even noticed I was missing from Facebook. And why should you? What’s one drop of tea gone missing from inside the roiling kettle?

I left Facebook because I tired of their constant overreaching, further eroding my privacy by tracking my movements across the entire breadth of the web whether I was logged into their services or not. I left Facebook because – while I find some of their services quite valuable – I find it inelegant. It’s designed to be sticky flypaper for your attention. These crossed-purposes, users craving connection while Facebook craves their focus, make it all a clumsy affair.

(NOTE: I didn’t comprehend how awful the whole affair really is until I happened upon Path, a social network that’s really quite wonderful in its simplicity and elegance. And almost vacant from what I saw.)

That’s such a shame too, since our tools can be so much more than the sum of their parts. At best, they make the difficult things a possibility for us. Good tools can inspire us to reach further and deeper.

Ultimately, I left Facebook because I wanted to pause for a moment and evaluate how this thing really fits into my life.

During the interlude, I soon realized that I’d reactivate my Facebook account one day or another. Eventually. Like I mentioned, the basic service that Facebook provides is valuable. Connectivity is valuable. Having a chance to see the things my friends and family want to share is valuable. And while I had the spew turned off? I didn’t have a way to wish a good friend a happy birthday. I missed photos of five-year old birthday parties, Disney vacation photos, friends dressed as pirates and honestly who knows what else.

When I was in my early 20’s I got similarly fed up with Microsoft Windows . In that instance, I ended up only using Linux for years and years in response. Today I have a more measured response: privacy-strengthening browser plugins and heightened awareness.