Suicidal Tendencies

no_fbWell, I did it. I committed “Facebook Suicide.” That’s the term for deleting your profile in the social network as if you no longer exist.

Of course, as soon as I was done, they announced sweeping revisions of their privacy policy and a simplification of the user controls that had become so complex that most people gave up and just didn’t deal with them.

I wasn’t terribly worried about my privacy. I assumed that pretty much everything I put in my profile or said online was visible to everyone. I mean, it may be only your “friends” who are supposed to see what you write, but if someone is determined, anything is available.

You can still (always) find me online. I have Twitter, MySpace, Google Buzz, AIM and other accounts. And of course, this blog. For all of my stuff, just Google me, my profile is there.

I was more concerned about friends and family who, following my example, blithely joined. I wonder if any of them spent the time wading through the multiple levels of privacy settings like I did. I’ll bet few, if any. They were all to busy playing Farmville.

The best thing about Facebook is that your friends are all there. I mean literal friends, people you really know and value. I had about 260 “friends.” Many of them were family, classmates from high school, and a lot of people who I knew or had met through my music podcasting days. I truly enjoyed reading what they all had to say. Many didn’t say much, but it was nice to be in touch with them on some level. I’ll miss that.

What I don’t miss is the endless silliness. I don’t care who is playing Mafia Wars, or what special animal someone got in Farmville. I have nothing against them, but I’m not playing them and I don’t have any interest in them, so why do I have to keep clicking a button to hide them? And why if I already hid messages generated by some game, do I get related variations of it? And I really don’t care if someone gave me a virtual gift, or bought me a virtual drink. That’s all fun, but why do I need to send one to 5 other people to accept one? Just because I might indulge in some silly gesture with a close friend, doesn’t mean I want to involve any others.

I know a lot of people really get into those things. They are not important to me, though.

I often used FB to post a quick thought that wasn’t worth writing a full blog post here. A lot of them I included a link to share or a picture or video. It’s really good for that and I think that is Facebook’s most powerful aspect. Even when I wrote a long piece in this blog, I would tell people about it and link to it on FB. Some other friends were doing the same and we all read each others articles that way.

I also found the chat function useful. I often IMed certain people when we were online. Sure, I could do that with AIM or ICQ or any of the four or five IM systems I have accounts with. But often people whose eyes glazed over if you tried to explain those to, were happy to chat using Facebooks chat. Many didn’t even realize that often I wasn’t even looking at Facebook, I was using Digsby, a instant messaging client that works with all my IM accounts at once.

But over all, Facebook was a big annoyance and time-waster. When it became a movement to quit in protest of their policies, I decided to pile on. There wasn’t much to lose.

Besides, if it works and FB shapes up and shows some concern over their users privacy concerns, I can alway rejoin. Well, maybe. It seems like too much work.

You can’t just quit. They make you deactivate it. It gets deleted in two weeks. If you log in – even once – in that time, everything is back to normal. Before I deactivated my account, I made sure that wouldn’t happen. I deleted all my photos. I changed my profile picture to something very generic: Tom from MySpace. I thought that was ironic. I removed every detail from my profile that I could. Then I said my goodbyes and removed every friend, one by one. Then just to insure that I can’t accidentally log in ad re-activate the account, I changed the password. Then I deactivated the account. There is no going back now. In a couple weeks, I’ll cease to exist on FB altogether.

If I ever go back, I think I’ll do it differently. I may make a profile for just close friends and family and another one for those extended friends. Maybe even a separate one for all my musician friends. Like I said, it seems like more work than it would be worth.

Posted in Family, Rants, Tech Stuff
3 comments on “Suicidal Tendencies
  1. M. Moretti says:

    One day recently I checked your Facebook and it didn’t come up. I don’t do Facebook, but I do like to occasionally see what photos people have of themselves. I tried a couple others and they had disappeared, too. A couple of days later I was listening to your buddy Leo on the radio at work, and he casually mentioned that there was some sort of kerfuffle going on about privacy with Facebook. So that explained that.

  2. Al Gritzmacher says:

    Yes, Leo led the way on that one. I have, however, gone back on Facebook. I created a new account and am starting from scratch. This time, it’s strictly friends and family, and I mean close friends, not FB friends…

    Eventually, I’ll do another account for my music contacts. Fortunately, I have plenty of email addresses to use…

    I’m watching to see that FB keeps the changes they made in response to the privacy issues. What you see from me – without an account of your own – may be very limited.

    But it’s just too good of a way to stay in touch with family and friends to stay away from. I just keep blocking all the silly time-wasting games!

  3. M. Moretti says:

    All I can see is your chosen photo, basic profile, interests, and photos of about six “friends”. People I work with who have I-phones and similar check their FB pages at work all the time. They showed me the profile of one certain co-worker who in spite of being old enough and allegedly smart enough to know better, had highly embellished his job description. This was knowing full well that at least 15 fellow employees, including a few supervisors, could see it. And they worry about kids on-line! I think most of the kids are smarter.

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