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Why I Gave Up On Facebook

2015-01-10 5 min read Musings marco

You probably noticed if you follow me on Facebook: I’ve barely been on there in the past two years. I’ll log on, once in a while, mostly because I remember it’s someone’s birthday and I wish them well on the channel I know they use. But for myself, I am over it. Why?

There was a time when Facebook was cool. That was, of course, before I was on it. It’s when you had to have a .edu address to be on it, it was when college students from Ivy Leagues got an account and nobody else.

I was in the first wave of externals, before the thing exploded into becoming the social hub of the known universe. When people were trying to figure it out and were excited about the ability to share with those they loved or at least cared about.

Then something happened: Facebook wanted to grow, and it wanted money. The relentless pursuit of both is what killed it for me, as Facebook’s wish to grow and make money started getting at odds with my interests, desires, and passions.

First came the desire to grow. Trying to avoid the fate of sleep towns like Orkut and later Google+, Facebook made it way too easy to overshare. Some of it was just poor design, like the option to send messages (and especially game invitations) to All Friends. Some of it was downright shady, like updating the privacy policy and then changing the default sharing options to an ever-wider audience.

Then came the desire to make money. Strangely, that wasn’t even on Facebook’s part, initially, but on the apps that ran on the platform. They started becoming naggy about money quickly. It took Facebook much longer, but it’s become a naggy place, too. Ads mixed in with your regular feed? Not so hot – especially with an application that knows enough about you to avoid ads that are just plain irrelevant to you.

The last straw was when I left for my snowboarding trip two years ago. Facebook knew about it, since I had announced it on the platform. But when I checked into the hotel and tried to upload pictures from the WiFi there, Facebook declared that it appeared I was trying to hack my own account and would require me to send a picture of my driver license if I wanted my account reinstated.

I decided I didn’t need Facebook as much as Facebook needed my license. Eventually, I deleted all my pictures from the place, except the few profile pics, removing the most important part of my sharing.

It’s sad, because while I don’t miss the app, I miss my friends on there. More than that, I miss the ability to point my new friends to my self and start sharing with them. I haven’t made a new friend on Facebook in a while, nor have I added anyone I know from real life.

When I go back on my few benders, I have the same feeling as when I start up my old Windows 7 laptop. It all feels strange and complicated and pointless. Windows annoys me with hundred different pieces of software requiring an update and wanting to reboot. Facebook with a feed that has become logged with oversharers. Yes, I know, I can trim them from view, but I realize that’s a battle that Facebook should be fighting for me, not something I have to do on my own.

Facebook is now the place where my politically incorrect friends share links about political news from a one-sided, lop-sided perspective; they share pictures of their breakfast and check-ins to McDonald’s; they lie about the perfect excitingness of their lives; they constantly invite me (and everyone they “know”) to games that are too stupid to even contemplate playing.

A garden left unkempt becomes a jungle, and that’s what Facebook looks like right now when I log on. But the thing is, I don’t think I am the one that should be tending the garden exclusively.

You see: the Web 1.0 was all about making information available, about bringing the invisible into light. The Web 2.0 was supposed to be about relevance, about filtering out the information you didn’t care about from that you did care about. Sadly, there hasn’t been an implementation of Web 2.0 yet, because companies continue thinking that placing irrelevant information in front of someone is a good way of selling them something.

This is what Facebook should be: the place where I find the information that is relevant to me. It knows that I snowboard: it should hook me up with great deals for gear and hotels and ski lifts, instead of diapers and Clash of Clans. It knows I surf: why don’t I get ads for boards or vacation packages to Tahiti, instead of ads for cars I don’t need and casinos I don’t play at?

That’s the thing advertisers don’t realize: they have something that could make them a lot more efficient. It’s just not there yet, because they don’t push for it. Just like the fact Amazon starts pushing ads about the very product I just bought, as if I need more of the thing that is going to arrive in the mail in Two Day Shipping.