Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why I divorced Facebook

From Google Images
I take offense when I'm lied to. I feel like this is what Facebook (FB) did to me.

We started our relationship in 2007. I agreed to all FB's terms and conditions and in turn, it promised to connect me to the world, but also allowing me to control how much of information I could make visible to others. FB allowed me to rekindle friendships with long-lost primary school friends.

FB also enabled me to see my high school friend's wedding and baby photo's and not just "hear" that so-and-so got married or so-and-so had a baby. I was able to share all of my travel adventures (photographs and tidbits) with all my "friends" on FB.

Logging onto FB every morning after checking my email was routine. I could see Friend A posted a picture of her baby's first tooth, Friend B had a bridal shower yesterday and oh...look at what Friend C had for dinner last night! When FB introduced the chat feature, there was always someone online to talk to when I logged on, regardless of timezones. I loved this. We were always connected.

Updating my FB profile with news (what constitutes personal news, by the way?), photos and contact information, it beat having to send out mass emails to everyone.

Sometimes it felt like I cheated on my blog with FB. I blogged less frequently. Why spend all that time writing and uploading photos on my blog, when I could upload a whole photo album with captions - telling the exact same story. Right? Also, it seemed like people were less likely comment on my blog, but more on my FB updates. Fine. As they wish. Even though on Blogger, you can opt to comment anonymously. But, it's your call.

And then "apps" were born. Some of them were fun. Friends were able to exchange virtual gifts, do "super pokes" and even give each other fun nick names. But then something called "Farmville" was invented. I started receiving the strangest invitations of crops and...whatever else Farmville consists of.

As a social network, I found that people on FB became far less sociable.

A few months ago (in March, to be precise) I felt betrayed by FB. All my privacy settings were set to default and for a brief moment, I felt naked to all my FB friends. Apart from this (which really annoyed me), people were becoming far less interested in replying private messages, wall posts or photo comments.

FB was also "Friend Suggesting" people whose names I had almost forgotten. How was FB making these connections? It was almost haunting.

I'd had enough, so I deactivated my account. I'd previously been on "FB Diets" - a whole week without logging on. Difficult, but possible. This time, I wanted to delete my account, but the folks at FB headquarters make it so difficult to do so.

By deactivating my account, my profile was not visible to my FB friends. Within a week, I started getting frantic emails and text messages from friends around the world. "Are you OK?" "What happened?" "What's wrong?"

Many of them forgot that I actually had an email address which they could email me on. Apparently, clicking Compose, typing and hitting Send from an email account takes a lot of effort.

To be very honest, I didn't miss FB. I started nurturing my blog again, which I'm glad I did. I logged back in a few days ago and saw that some of the privacy settings had changed again (which I was glad about).

I understand why FB is so huge and why people choose to use it as primary medium for communicating with family and friends. I, on the other hand, decided to give FB a break after realizing that of my 500+ friends, how many of them do I really communicated with on a regular basis? 200? No. 100? No. What about 20? I think I could say less than 10.

I also realized that my profile had many "lurkers". I knew they were lurking because when/if I'd meet them when I'm down in South Africa, they'd comment about my photo uploads. However, those were the people whose photos were only their profile pics.

Anyways, I will probably activate my account again, but not anytime soon.

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