May 31, 2010
I just deactivated my Facebook account. I decided to do this last Friday but today was the first chance I got. Coincidentally, there was an article in the paper this morning about someone trying to organize a “quit Facebook day” today, but that was mostly about privacy which is not my real problem. (I never told Facebook anything I didn’t consider public in the first place.)
So, I had been considering getting rid of Facebook for a while, and I hadn’t logged on in at least two months, but what finally decided me was this article: Pondering Friendship Online: Focus on Intimacy.
The binary problem is that someone asking you if you are a friend or not becomes a referendum on the entire relationship you have with that person. If you say No, you’re rejecting an offer of kindness; if you say Yes, but mean No, you’ve set up a new and potentially damaging dynamic; if you ignore the request entirely, the person may notice the lack of response and be hurt.
The social networking services can’t simply set up a spectrum of intimacy, either. LinkedIn tries this by asking you how you know someone (did you work together, go to school together, and so on), thus establishing a venue for a connection, since LinkedIn is a business networking site.
But could Facebook ask you to select among acquaintance, friend of a friend, person you once dated, enemy, friend, lover, BFF, drifted apart from, longing to be back together with, and who the heck is that? Pick the wrong choice, and that friend (lover, colleague, nuisance) may be dead to you forever, or may become the new best friend you didn’t want.
In the end, I felt that Facebook spent more time trying to get me to play stupid games or “friend” new people, and not enough telling me stuff about people I really cared about. Even what it was showing me about the people I did care about was too superficial to make it worth the time and effort. Or maybe I’m just too antisocial to deal with a social networking site.