an open letter to facebook: why i deleted my account

dear Facebook,

this morning, i did it. i deleted the personal Facebook account i’ve had since 2004, back when you could only get in with a .edu email address. i said goodbye to all those college and highschool friends and acquaintances (and didn’t bother to try to pull the info out either). i left, without preparation or planning. i hit that button, and i hit it good.

let me say right now that i DO have a public persona; or maybe several. i’m on Twitter and LinkedIn, and umm, obviously, this blog. i have a Flickr page too. so it’s not that i mind sharing, or sharing publicly.

i deleted my Facebook account for the same reasons i turned off Google Buzz: i was tired of playing the “public or private?” game. if i say this and tag them, who can see it? if i post this and keyword that, who can find it? if i turn this switch on and that switch off, what does that mean?! i have neither the time nor the inclination to try and figure this out.

and Facebook (and, i thought, Buzz to a certain extent) lend themselves to different kinds of communication. it’s a super-flexy platform — you can have some things private, some things public, some things somewhere in between. and that’s exactly the problem. the more options you have, and the more ways there are to share, the more opaque the controls become. and no matter how many ways you reformat the Privacy controls, it stays opaque. and then newspapers write about how you are killing privacy and permission marketing and you say “BUT THEY CAN TURN IT OFF!” but it’s too late.

whereas twitter is either public OR private. Flickr is either public OR private. my blog is BY NATURE public. no gray areas, no confusion, no muss, no fuss.

will i miss being able to contact that guy i had freshman English class with who i haven’t talked to in ten years? unlikely. will i miss being able to see all the pics of my BFF’s new baby? maybe, but then again i email her and talk to her on the phone, and, ahem, because of Facebook’s controls, i can probably look at those without having an account. or, she could just email me them. in other words, there are way around this sh*t. AAAAND i never have to decline another Farmville invite again.

in other words? totally worth it.

sincerely,

jenn

addendum: i do, in fact, have an entirely public facebook account that is PURELY a placeholder, and that i use to Admin my store’s Facebook Page. so if you search for me, you will find it. that being said, i don’t actually use it to POST anything, it’s just there as a courtesy measure and a unfortunate necessity, since, you know, EVERYONE is on facebook, and people like to be friendly. which is fine with me.

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an open letter to facebook: why i deleted my account

8 thoughts on “an open letter to facebook: why i deleted my account

  1. I’ve been on Facebook as long as you have…it’s definitely no longer my favorite social media application. It’s there, I read what my friends are saying, but that’s about it. I don’t really use it to communicate anything for that very reason. I have a hard time thinking of what I want to say to everyone I’ve ever known. Not much.

  2. Good points, and thanks for the food for thought. For me a major annoyance of FB is when I change things on the desktop site (like ignoring all the Farmville updates from friends) the changes do not appear to carry over to the iPhone app — which is sometimes flooded by Farmville/Mobsters updates that I simply don’t care about. It makes me worry that privacy settings also may not transfer over.

    I keep thinking of deleting it, but for a different reason: while I want to use it to keep up with the old college friends baby pics, the second cousins twice removed who I only see at weddings every 5 years & the cool folk I hang with at conferences, I also feel bad for not friending-back everyone I exchange good mornings with on the bus or who happens to discover that I went to their high school (ten years apart) while aimlessly trawling the web late at night. I feel the more random acquaintances I friend the more noise I have to sort through in order to see what my distant cousins, colorful friends or one-time BFFs are up to. I should probably be more open to new interactions, but then the value in FB would be completely drowned out.

    So, for me it still serves a purpose, but just barely.

    1. EXCELLENT point, Rich, re: noise and value. i struggled with that a lot, too, which is how i initially ended up with two accounts — one for random acquaintances, one for IRL friends/family. but then that got increasingly blurry and confusing as well, so i gave up.

      i don’t deny that it will be HARDER to stay in touch with certain people now — but i also think that it will be more planned/deliberate interaction, which i can only see as a good thing.

  3. evan @ nerditry says:

    I feel the same about the blackberry app which is in a vacuum. Only things that you’ve done via BB will show up in it.

    Weirdly, there is a link inside that app taking you to the Facebook mobile site which is a pared down version of the real thing.

    Convergence = consolidated annoyance.

  4. Agree with everything you say. (Not surprising!) The noise to value ratio was definitely completely out of whack for me, and the privacy tools are very unwieldy, as are lists, and though lord knows I tried, I could not make FB work for me. Deleting is powerful. (And isn’t it interesting the things FB does to try to influence you to stay? With pictures of babies and puppies and your grandma…”Are you sure you want to completely cut these people out of your life?”)

  5. Two accounts? No wonder it was a hassle. I’m probably being elitist and weird about not friending everybody, but why does everything have to converge/bleed together? My neighbors are neighbors–easily reachable within a 2 minute walk and always there for a chat & a beer, what’s gained by being FB buddies as well? People I work with locally I see all the time. I honestly find FB more useful for the long-range people in my life — but maybe I’m just too lazy to make a point of calling more frequently…

    1. i know, i know, bad idea. BUT i was trying to be friendly and non-elitist, esp with customers, and that seemed like easier than trying to manage LISTS of people, so…. yeah.

      but yes, i agree re: convergence. guess we just have to pick a spot for ourselves and draw it in the sand. here, but NO FURTHER, if you will….

  6. […] my enthusiastic foray into Google+, rather than producing the burnout that a lot of folks are talking about (ZOMG TOO MANY SOCIAL MEDIAZ WHICH ONE(S) TO KEEEEEP), has actually revived my interest in my other social networks. Tumblr has never lacked for my love (I LOVE YOU TUMBLR, TUMBLR I LOVE YOU, LET’S NEVER FIGHT OK) but i’ve had some epic frustrations with Twitter (see here here here and here) and Facebook. […]

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