Thursday, August 25, 2011

From Facebook Forward

I remember back in 2007, when a friend of mine turned me on to Facebook. Friendster (and I still receive the occasional notification from them) had pretty much given up the ghost, OKCupid was used for drunken quiz-taking amusement, and Myspace was devolving into glittery page headers and unsigned bands adding people as friends in some popularity feeding frenzy.

Facebook looked promising. It had a "grown up" look about it - free of the "pimped out" customization of the aforementioned social networking sites. I could use it for both professional (and not-so-professional) posts, and connect with friends and family without worry of clutter. I think back, and (at the time) whatever Facebook's version of Oregon Trail was, was the only thing that came close to diversion.

Then came Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, and a slew of "increment the statistic" games. I distracted myself with Zynga's Farmville during a bit of unemployment in 2009. I even went so far as to link practically every application I had on my Android phone with Facebook, so everyone I knew could be spammed with what I was reading, where I was eating, what movies I was watching, and even random thoughts I was spouting in 140 characters or less with another service.

In the past six months, I've become no more of a shut-in than usual (though sites like GetGlue and similar social applications for hermits would have you believe otherwise), but I've not really posted anything to Facebook directly. The various applications I use seem to do that already, and I receive a weekly digest of what everyone I know is doing.

Google recently came out with Google+, and while it's fully integrated with every other aspect of my on-line "life," I probably don't even use that as much others do.

A lot of people have "jumped ship" from Facebook to Google+, much as they did from Friendster to Myspace, and then from Myspace to Facebook. This isn't about going to the next shiny thing. It's more along the lines of how much a service engages me, and what I can offer it.

Between the monthly "sky is falling" posts about Facebook's invasion of users' personal data (it is a free service, after all - you choose what's available when you agree to the terms of service and begin posting), the "if you or someone you know has a torso please repost this and send it to your friends"-type of posts, and someone desperately needing help to grow petunias (or build an airship in some steampunk-era game that hasn't taken into account the roles of women and anyone not white), to the spamming of friends with comments and updates of which even I cannot be absolved (nor can I be bothered to adjust the setting on all of the applications) - I am giving up on my account.

Sure, I have professional accounts on Facebook that will occasionally receive updates until a better "social branding" tool comes along, but I'm not going to be posting to Facebook as a netizen.

If you want to find out what I'm up to (apart from what Twitter, GetGlue, FourSquare et al are reporting as my "oh-so-exciting life"), send me an e-mail message. I know, it almost sounds archaic, right?

The internet is a very fluid place. Some people join social networking sites for popularity. Some join because they are die hard fans of a particular service and will be damned if they try out something new. Others prefer to wait until a new service irons out its bugs and shows to be a stable contender.

I'm not deleting my account, I'm just moving on. As much of a hermit as I am, I can actually say I've outgrown Facebook, socially.

Jonathan Farr is a freelance contractor, writer, podcaster, and all-around nerd. While he can be found in many on-line social venues as someone who never updates his profile, he can easily be found by sending a message to 

No comments:

Google+ Badge