So Quit Facebook Day has come and gone. From what I can tell, two of my friends, Mark Pesce and Nathanael Boehm deleted their profile. (It’s hard to be sure just how many deleted their profiles, from what I can tell my total friends’ count has gone up *scratching head*). That’s cool, I have them on Twitter anyways.
I have read theirs and others’ reason for quitting, and on an idealistic level, they have a point. I’m pissed at Facebook, I feel like they’ve reneged on the deal we had, I don’t trust them AT ALL, and I would like out too.
Reality however, as so often is the case, is a bummer. The fact of the matter is that I am too embedded in that closed off, archive-free (a pet peeve, indulge me) ecosystem. It’s not about content. A while ago I made a conscious effort to put my content elsewhere and port it all into Facebook. I basically stopped trusting Facebook with my stuff a while ago.
But here’s what Facebook has that I can’t give up – I *won’t* give up – my people. I’ve spent immeasurable time and effort building my circle and there are people there I don’t have access to outside Facebook. It’s not that we won’t be able to keep in touch outside it, but the fact is that our relationship exists *wholly* within it. We would never email each other – exchanging comments on status updates and wall posts is the extent of our relationship. I would warn against trivialising these relationships due to the nature of the communication. These friends of mine diversify and add colour to my horizon. They’re like the neighbours you see in the street – you exchange pleasantries, clear out each other’s mailboxes when the other’s away – close enough to care, far enough to not share your secret recipes with.
Another form of communication that doesn’t exist outside Facebook is third-party-enabled exchanges. This is the stuff you see that friends of a friend have put up about them. Stuff that you wouldn’t see otherwise. And before you yell ‘STALKER’ at me and run off, I’ve got a real world example for ya.
I’m in California, my parents are in Singapore, and my brother takes off for an European tour with his trash metal band. I had no way of reaching my brother, so my only irl source of keeping in touch with him was through my mother. There was one night when I had a call with my mother who was updating me where bro was and how he was, while at the same time looking at pictures of his trip that his band mate had uploaded to Facebook and tagged him in. I in turn was able to update my mother that it looked like he was still in one piece and having fun.
And then the kicker – I take an image my brother’s friend (who I’m not connected to) has uploaded and share it on my wall, thus allowing all my people who aren’t friends with him to see what he is up to. The comment in that wall post is by a friend of mine currently in India. That’s a four-party-exchange of information that would not have happened this easily any where else.
So give me any argument you have against Facebook, any other platform you can build to replace it – as long as it doesn’t replicate the immediate, intimate and enabled methods of communication Facebook currently provides, I can’t leave. I’m staying, and while I’m there, what I can do is make efforts to educate my people on best Facebook practices, and aid organisations like DataPortability.org to make big bad Facebook a more trustworthy place to hang out. For what it’s worth, I have hope that we’ll all live happily ever after.