It Was Fun While It Lasted...
What if you had a tool, like a hammer or a guitar that you used every day, but which started to change into a different, more frustratingly hard to use tool, randomly, frequently and unpredictably. That’s what facebook has become for me, and I’ve finally just become fed up with it. I’m not raging or freaking out here, just tired of watching something I really loved get worse and worse and worse…at least for my purposes.
I’m going to be phasing out social media over the next few weeks. I deleted my fledgling google+ account and I’m going to be scaling way back on facebook. It’s not so much because of what’s it’s done to my life, or facebook’s privacy policies, or how much time I spend on it. It’s because of the endless changes and the way facebook institutes them. I know change is inevitable and I have plenty of it in my life. But to me facebook is not life. Facebook is a tool. And I don’t like tools that keep changing and require time and energy to keep up with their basic use. Sites like youtube and eBay have changed too, but always slowly and always in small and useful ways. Not so with facebook.
For instance several months back facebook instituted a change whereby instead of clicking on “Share” to post a comment on a post, all you had to do was click “enter”, which was supposed to make things easier. Well maybe it did for the largely illiterate two word comment posters, but for those of us who liked to post more thoughtful multi-paragraph comments, it was a huge pain in the butt. Every time you hit the enter key to separate paragraphs, the comment was instantly posted. You can get around this by hitting the shift and enter key together, in which case you get what you used to get by just hitting the enter key: a new paragraph.
But this is different from every site on the internet as well as Microsoft Word. So you have to pay extra attention, on facebook only, to not reflexively hit the enter key for a new paragraph. You can do so as usual with every other place you type. You can also hit the little “X” next to the posted comment within a few seconds and you’ll be back in edit mode. The trouble with this is that everyone on that thread will still get a notification that you’ve posted a comment, and an email if they’ve opted to receive emails when someone comments on a post they’re following. I’ve received many, many partial posts via email while people struggle with this most basic of functions. And all for what? To make posting a comment just a tiny, tiny bit easier. It’s been months and I still accidentally hit that enter key and post incomplete comments.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, the “new facebook”, which no one requested and which “improves” something no one was complaining about, is yet another pile of useless changes and looks to me to be just awful.
If someone wants to create a facebook like site for people over 50 where all you can do is post comments, pictures and links and never changes. I’ll be the first to sign-up. Call it fartbook. I’m there.
But as it is now, I'm already moving my pictures to my new Flickr page and posting much less on facebook. I think I'm going to maintain a very low profile there. Basically, I'm going to strip my profile down to the essentials, participate in this martial arts group which I'm really enjoying, I'm going to create a few musical "events", I'll continue to accept friend requests and I'll occasionally post something along the lines of: "Hey friends, I don't use fb much anymore. If you're interested in me, check out my blog, website, Flicker page, or youtube channel. Or just send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org" And then I'll provide links to those.
This feels really good folks, very empowering. I’ve felt helpless in the face of one dumb, frustrating and top down change after another. I feel like I’m breaking up with an abusive lover whose redeeming qualities have been steadily diminishing.