A month ago I deactivated my Facebook account and I haven't used it since.
In the larger scheme of things this is a relatively inconsequential decision, and one that I may even eventually reverse. But for the benefit of my future self, and for anyone else who's interested, I thought I'd inventory my thinking behind this change:
1. My time spent on Facebook was minimal, especially since I deleted the app from my phone a few years ago. But it was almost entirely time I was not spending on things that actually matter to me. Any effort I put in to keeping up with my feed felt like it was actively distorting my understanding of how the real world works, how people are actually doing and what they're actually thinking and feeling. Even as distractions from the real world go, it was often more unsatisfactory and harmful than helpful.
2. I continue to be uncomfortable with Facebook's "walled garden" model of connecting people, content and conversations. I've nothing against the company or the people who work there, and actually admire their technical innovation, scale and impact on the world. But as someone who genuinely wants to see people truly own and control their online presence, I can't in good faith spend time contributing to something that undermines the open web. When I tried being just a casual observer without engaging, it didn't work. Which brings me to:
Continue reading Leaving Facebook
Mostly for my own reference, but also to invite comments about what others are doing, I'm taking stock of how I use (and don't use) various social media tools today in my personal life.
Twitter is probably the social media tool I post to most frequently. With close to 700 followers and 700 people I follow, I enjoy the quick and easy perusing of other people's tweets, the sharing of interesting / useful / important links, and the witty repartee that can result. Since joining in 2008 and initially making fun of it, I've come to embrace the challenge of saying something meaningful or interesting in such a small number of words.
I've found a good mix of Twitter accounts to follow that both give me access to articles, ideas and resources I know I'll find interesting, and accounts that challenge me to think differently about the world. I try to follow at least one link every day to a resource/site/article that I know I'll profoundly disagree with.
Continue reading How I'm using social media today
I've had a few days to play around with Google's new social network offering, Google+, and I thought I'd share some initial thoughts.
First of all, kudos to Google for "going for it" in the Facebook era. They're one of few players who actually has the resources and skill to make a serious go at a viable alternative to Facebook, and you've got to admire the effort. If the success of the movie The Social Network tells us anything, it's that Facebook has become mainstream and popular, and as generations of younger people look for ways to establish their identity in the digital age, they'll be looking for alternatives to the place where their parents and now grandparents also hang out online. By the same token, people of all ages and professions are trying to figure out just how to effectively and safely use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools in a world where we're being encouraged to blend our personal and professional lives together more publicly.
Is Google+ just the right thing at just the right time?
People are already writing about the high bar that Google+ will have to jump in order to see any significant migration of Facebook users, not the least of which is all the time people have invested in curating their lists of "friends" there. Facebook is going to make it as difficult as possible for its users to do any kind of exporting of account information from their system, and I don't think Google is devious enough to launch an unauthorized workaround. So people will be left to recreate their online identity on Google+, where the number of people you are connected to still largely drives your user experience.
Continue reading Initial thoughts on Google+
I saw the movie The Social Network tonight, here are my spoiler-free comments.
The movie was incredibly well made. Aaron Sorkin's writing was as good as the best days of The West Wing, each member of the cast seemed to just nail their role, the editing was some of the best I've seen, and so on.
Perhaps most enjoyably, this is a mainstream movie that is at least in part about the culture and goings-on in the modern world of Internet entrepreneurship, I believe the first of its kind. It fully embraces the geekiness that was and is a part of building a web application like Facebook: in the first 30 minutes, the Apache webserver software project is mentioned at least twice, there are dramatic lines about needing more Linux webservers running MySQL, there are punchlines that involve the emacs text editor, and scenes of glorious code writing marathons - wow.
Continue reading The Social Network
If you're new to Facebook, Twitter or some of the other social networking spaces out there, you're probably asking yourself, "what should I expect to see when it comes to the status updates that people post in these places?" Or if you're a social networking veteran, you might still be thinking, "what's my niche online? How do I decide what to post?"
Well, you're in luck! I really enjoy cataloging and categorizing these kinds of things, and so I've put together this list of 12 kinds of social networking status updates.
Most every status update will fall into one of these categories:
Continue reading 12 kinds of social networking status updates
If you spend any amount of time following my online adventures - through my blog, Twitter, Facebook, or otherwise - then there are some things you need to know:
- Please don't assume that you know me because you read my posts or status updates. I'm not saying this because I think I'm mysterious or hard to know, I'm saying it because I believe reading someone's status updates does not constitute an engaged and genuine human relationship. I do use the Internet to express myself, but only one very particular slice of myself. I hope we can talk "in real life" or even via more direct online communication if we really want to get to know each other better. Continue reading Things to know if you follow me online
One of the trends that disturbs me about social networking sites and perhaps even online conversations in general is that the experience of interacting in those virtual spaces is seen by some as a substitute for real world experiences and interactions. Or put another way, it's like we spend more of our time talking about how interesting and good we are at talking to each other, instead of actually talking about something. I don't say this to discount those who have meaningful online exchanges or who find authentic joy in their online relationships, but I wonder what kind of meaningful definition of humanity we're creating for future generations, when what it has historically meant to "experience the world together" is being replaced with "experiencing Facebook together."
Continue reading Remember that one time?