I told a friend today that I really only use Facebook because I feel obligated for work. It’s true, I don’t read the feed and I don’t spend a ton of time there. I post links to stuff I write and respond to messages and chats, but I am not into the rest of the site at all anymore. I hate the feed, it is overwhelming and takes forever to process. I’ve friended too many people who I barely know and it’s too much work to purge. I just don’t care that much about my Facebook account.
I went to community college briefly and then went straight into the workforce, so when Facebook was sweeping through colleges I wasn’t able to get an account (no college email address). I remember the first time I saw it I was visiting a friend at UC Davis and it had recently come to her campus. I had used Friendster and was really into Livejournal, not that big on Myspace, and Facebook seemed pretty simple. She said everyone was obsessed with it, and I signed up when they made it available to everyone. After I signed up I just kind of ignored my account for 6 months (I would later do this with Twitter too) until one day I got an email saying someone had tagged me in a picture. I came back to see what the picture was, and then I stayed.
Shortly after I got onto Facebook I stopped posting on my Livejournal, eventually deleting it for real (not that I hadn’t deleted it tons of times to “make a statement” as Livejournalers used to do). The Livejournal community had kind of died, it had been bought by some Russian company and lost its soul. I was ready to move on and Facebook was ready to let me in. My Xanga account also lost my interest, and my AngelFire site. I had spent countless hours customizing those websites with my meagre web design skills to be a reflection of my own personality but Facebook offered a simple design centered around what I found most interesting – other people.
Fast forward to today and I use Facebook like everyone else. I share pictures, notes, new stories, participate in groups and try to present myself and express myself in that blue and white world. But I know how much I’ve lost – I have a blog I still update regularly and design myself with open source WordPress.org as the backbone. Everything meaningful goes here, not on Facebook. I know my long term social presence on the web, and in the world, won’t be on Facebook and I house my writing somewhere that I control completely. The server, the code, the design, the word… it’s the real expression of me. And while Facebook has evolved in one way I’ve evolved in another direction, and I don’t want to be inside that box.
I know that the motivation to use Facebook is broken for me because when I put out some new information like a status or a picture and no one comments I’m kind of sad, and then I feel ashamed of the fact I’m even considering filtering what I post based on whether I think it will get a “like”. How shallow!
When I put up a new post on my blog, even if I get no comments, few tweets, few pageviews, I feel good. Writing something and publishing it here feels like making a small creation, revealing a small bit of myself, offering up a tiny sliver of something new that I made today. So I think the next Facebook, at least for me, won’t be Facebook at all. It will be a place where I can control the experience of my visitors and express myself as an individual. It is more like to be Wix, Tumblr, Svtble, Strikingly, Medium, etc than anything dubbed as a “social network”.
Hat tip to Scott Hanselman, who has influenced my thinking on this for awhile and who I can finally relate to first hand. If this post resonates with you please check out his post “Your Words Are Wasted”.