Posts Tagged ‘quit’

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Attempted Facebook Suicide: Part One

May 15, 2010

I wouldn’t call this a cry for help. Or my way of seeing if anyone will miss me when I’m gone. The truth is I’m still not sure why I decided to give up my Facebook account.

I suppose it could be a case of¬†bandwagoning, with¬†the current media circus showcasing the company and its cringe-inducing founder Mark Zuckerberg’s mercurial privacy record and the fact that user data is increasingly being used to generate profits through targeted ads.

More than simple backlash though, I think the novel challenge of attempting to quit the crack of the internet cold turkey had something to do with it.

Facebook’s account deletion process invites just such a social experiment. If you’re Google-savvy enough to even figure out how to delete (and not simply de-activate) your account, the final condition the company imposes is that you not log back in for 14 days.

They practically dare us to stay away…Challenge accepted!

First Impressions

I sat staring at my Facebook profile for the last time(?) at 8:45AM on May 13, 2010. I quietly reassured myself of several things:

1) Of the 149 Facebook ‘friends’ staring at me from cyberspace, maybe 30 represented people I regularly saw or spoke to and most of the site’s third-party functions were intelligence-draining wastes of time.

2) If I disagreed with the policies of Facebook, the only action I could take was to delete my account and NOT as instinct insisted, use my Facebook status update to spout off about how corrupt Facebook had become. Money, meet mouth.

3) I could find alternatives to maintain an online identity if I wanted to. (Exciting upstart Diaspora, branding itself as the anti-facebook, is scheduled to launch in September).

I jotted down a few phone numbers and email addresses I didn’t have saved elsewhere, squinted awkwardly at the final CAPTCHA I had to fill out and said goodbye to my digital representation.

My first craving hit an hour later. I wanted to check up on a friend of mine who had moved to Edmonton and was planning on coming to Toronto for a visit. All correspondence to do with the trip had been done on Facebook. It certainly wasn’t the type of exchange that couldn’t continue over email, but seeing my friends in photos in the same place I corresponded with them had always been nice and was the first thing I missed.

*It was at this point that I decided to record my experience.

To help things along, I cleared all my browser history and caches so I wouldn’t be auto-suggested Facebook while using the internet. After that, I wrote emails with the same nostalgic pride people who save dead languages must feel.

I became extra productive that first day so I could tell myself later it was because I had abandoned Facebook. It worked quite well until that evening when my fingers twice managed to type “facebo” into Chrome before I could stop them. Facebook had revealed another symptom of its unexpected powers.

Most of the soapboxing that goes on within Facebook was another factor in my deciding to leave. Too much grammatically horrifying bluster and rhetoric, not enough intelligent opinion or ideas. One friend who makes an effort joined the military a few months ago and was maintaining quite an interesting first-person account of the intense training via collective Facebook messages. It was the new format of a soldier’s letter that relayed hilarious anecdotes of absurdity and frustration while keeping me up to date on what was happening with a friend.

Another colleague of mine has the wonderful habit of collecting the strangest photos he can find and photoshopping himself into the action and then coming up with a perfectly hilarious caption. It may not sound like much, but believe me when I say his efforts are better than any single-panel comic to the people who know him (and probably many that don’t). It’s hard to weigh the value of a system that creates so much useless content for every interesting or unique perspective it offers.

On the evening of Day Three I signed up for Twitter. I would reclaim my beloved status update. After twenty minutes of setting up my profile, browsing for friends or corporations I liked, relearning basic punctuation again (RT, @, #!) and downloading Tweetdeck, I logged off. Too much rebuilding to do in one sitting.

Odds of successfully defeating the mighty Facebook: Even. Still not a fan of Zuckerberg & Co’s general disdain for their users but can’t help but admit that their network is still the most convenient place for communicating with a large number of acquaintances.

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