Update: I took five weeks off from Facebook and re-activated it again, now more conciouss about what streams and conversations I engage in.
Before christmas I decided to try not being active on Facebook to see how it felt. It felt really good – so now I´m deactivating my personal profile. Why do I do it? Several reasons on several levels (personal, social, practical and systemic).
I have an abundance of accounts for online communication and productivity. I feel a need to concentrate my attention to fewer channels and I feel that the way Facebook works there are too many possible ways to be intrusive for people that are far away in my social network and to few ways for me to control what IM, DM, mail and notifications that reach me from people. Personally, it´s about reach management and I find Facebook to complex (groups, pages, profiles etc. plus types of communciation).
Facebook feels more like spending Christmas with the relatives than having a private conversation with my best friends. Managing different levels of reach-ability and who see´s what etc feels like trying to fix something that is already broken and takes to much energy for me. Socially it´s about finding and be found by interesting people and my Twitter works perfect for me for that. It´s less hazzle, fewer functions, broader fields to troll for new fish and inherently very Zen. I prefer that. The basic assumption behind Facebook is afterall that you believe that you can protect yourself from being transparent. I don´t believe that, in the long run we need to learn not to ever say or do anything in public that we´re not ready to share with our mothers, bosses, partners and the whole world. As we say in Sweden “ärlighet vara längst” ;-)
Facebook lets you do almost anything when it comes to personal and professional social communication. However, I believe it has tried to be everything for everybody too long. It stated out as a tool for people to connect with people (and did that really well), now have become some sort of Swiss Army knife trying to accomodate corporations wanting to do commerce right in the middle of people´s reunion party. That intention sucks, and thats probably why the level of complexity nowadays also sucks. I´m not more stupid than the average person, but I really find it hard to understand the different account types, rules and functions. That´s not very Zen. I prefer simple and effective specialized tools for diffferent things. And they are available on the open Internet, not locked in behind the (semi-)walled garden that Facebook has become.
Well, I have dozens of other ways to connect with the people I want to connect with. In comparison to the phone, IRL meetups, mail, Twitter, Skype etc Facebook has made me feel forced to spend time on people I don´t tick with almost as much as some of the places I´ve been employed by. I don´t need more low quality conversations and relations, but fewer – and using open tools and visiting open meetups has increased the number of high quality conversations and relations much more than allowing every nut case I ever come across to get a hot line into my computer. Yes, I should have been more restrictive with whom I accepted as a friend. ;-)
From a systemic perspective I prefer non-password protected tools to expose myself to new people and new ideas. To connect with my friends, customers and relatives I prefer tools and settings with more emotional bandwidth. Facebook simply doesn´t solve any problem that I can´t easily solve another way – often more effectively.
And, afterall, I really don´t think it is such a big deal to quit Facebook. There will be thousands of new tools and “social games” to play in the years to come. And I personally will keep the look out for services and tools that are not trying to please corporativism as much as Facebook in my view have been doing. Hopefully there will be more new school initiatives around that are not clinging to old school ways of exchanging value (industrial-capitalist) and find new forms better suited to a network society (peer to peer resource sharing?).
I believe, Facebook will be remembered as the Trojan horse that made social media mainstream and changed the way people thought about sharing their lifes with others. But other initiatives will replace it. The success of a club is dependent on what people goes there, not the venue.