This week has brought some pretty blizzardy weather on the Facebook front, so thick that I’m in a real quandary as to how I should navigate through it. Understand that, when it comes to Facebook, I try and keep my visits to the neighborhood to a minimum. Short story: I like the ability to keep up with people, but hate the annoying, incessant and spammy applications. I would have no use for Facebook if everyone would simply accommodate me and use LinkedIn and Twitter instead. But, as you might have noticed as well, the whole world apparently got Facebook for Christmas. I now have triple the old grade school/high school friends to connect to, and people from every social group I’ve been associated with for the last 40 years are popping out of the virtual woodwork. It creates a few challenges.
1. Should my Facebook community include everyone I know from work, professional circles, friends and childhood acquaintances? That’s a lot of communities slammed into one. I already wrestle a bit with the fact that most of what I talk about on Twitter is probably not interesting to some of the family and non-nptech friends who follow me. My online persona is my professional one. I’m not pretending to be someone else — the personal things that come through are authentic — but I really don’t want to bring every aspect of my life and interests online.
2. One of the main things that I dislike about Facebook is the applications. I keep pretty busy, with a demanding job; my family; active blogging/writing/presenting and volunteering duties; friends and relatives; an appreciation for movies, music and television; an unhealthy addiction to news, culture and technical info; and a love of crosswords. I’m not sure how I do all of this — and sleep — in the first place. So filling out Facebook movie comparison quizzes (and the like) does not qualify for a spot on my schedule. If you are connected to me on Facebook, and you’re hurt that I haven’t responded to the numerous gifts, games and trivial pursuits that you’ve invited me to, please don’t be. If you message or email me directly you’ll get a reply!
3. I think the people who run Facebook are unabashedly doing it in order to mine marketing info from the membership. And, since the main thing that you do on Facebook is connect with old friends and family, they’re using some fairly extensive personal history and interaction as fodder for their advertising streams. This is the nature of the net, of course, as I have Google ads in my email and a slew of ad tracking cookies no matter how often I clear them. But Facebook manages to be ten times creepier than any other web site I visit when it comes to this stuff. I just don’t trust them.
I’ve seriously considered doing whatever it takes to delete my account. I even emailed everyone and warned them of that intention at one point. But it’s getting to the point where deleting Facebook is kind of like boycotting food — you might have good reasons, but you’ll probably hurt yourself more than help, particularly since there is real value in having the place to connect, and, sadly, it isn’t LinkedIn that’s grabbed the zeitgeist.