Elle Morrill


Facebook

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”.

6 responses

  1. Jesse Avatar

    I completely agree.

    We got so excited as a society that we could have all these connections… now that we’re used to them, we’re like “now what?” Facebook has proven that they aren’t good at answering that question, so we wind up splintering into little overlapping subsets of photo sharers or whatever new network pops up.

  2. Lizelle Avatar

    I’m excited that somebody else has this perspective. I wrote a post about it a while back (lizellevanvuuren.com/does-facebook-matter), honestly I’d love for Facebook to be what I think is valuable = a platform for interaction, but honestly it’s just a publishing platform that now has so many “rules” as to whom actually see’s your message or not that I find myself more frustrated when using it then anything else. Social networks, niche one’s which I feel are creating way more value, like the one’s you mentioned; Medium, Svtble, Tumblr and others, are seemingly the future. Thanks for sharing your point of view here Danielle.

  3. Thomas Knoll Avatar

    I’m a bit schizophrenic about these social channels. On one hand I don’t obsess over them the way many people I know do. I spend maybe 8 minutes a day actually looking at the feed. Most of the time I spend there is related to private groups, or just sharing because it’s a “channel”. On the other hand, I’m interested in social interactions in a very *deep* way, and I find interesting ways to build connections on each of facebook/twitter/linkedin/foursquare/path/email/plus The way some people like to tweak SEO, or A/B testing copy, etc… I like to experiment with connections and trust and relationship building.

    I guess my point is. I don’t care if people click like on *my* ‘content’, but I love learning that clicking like on someone *else’s* post “makes their day”. And, no matter how much we argue over whether or not is *should* makes someone’s day. The reality is, it does.

    still exploring,
    TK

  4. Keeg Avatar

    Beautifully said Danielle. I have been working on getting my blog back up for much the same reason. I really appreciate the sincerity of this post.

  5. Drew Meyers Avatar

    “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.”

    Likewise. I love the feeling of publishing a new post on my own blog – because, even if no one sees it right away or comments, it’s a tiny sliver of the true me being exposed to the world.

  6. vince Avatar
    vince

    Facebook is a place to share fun, lighthearted content… It’s also a place to share a moment in time that others like or relate to–especially through pictures. What Facebook is not a is a place of great substance; a place to share thought-provoking ideas; or a place to engage in meaningful discussion. At least this is my experience… Which is kind of sad really.

    I agree with you, Danielle. I still believe there is a social experience missing that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have yet to provide.

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