I've decided to leave Facebook. I've two primary reasons: first, I don't think it's allowing for the type of connection I want to build and maintain with my friends; second, it is frankly starting to creep me out.
Facebook, on the surface, has been a way to keep tabs on friends spread far across the world and reach back in time to maintain friendships from the past. However, I don't find that I'm engaging with people in the considered way I need to on order to make these relationships substantive. I often feel I'm peering round the corners of connections as if looking through your living room window across the street. I have friends on Facebook with whom I've not communicated directly in a dozen years or more but from whom I receive regular updates on the state of their health and families, their travels, work, and major life decisions. Likewise, when I sporadically share something on Facebook, I often am either bringing out something very deep from my life in a passing way or making a comment on a specific situation that might not translate well to social media. In both cases, I'm sending or receiving a partial picture of life that isn't making that essential connection in the way that I want or need with my friends—and I am feeling the lack of that in the process.
Also, I do manage part of social media for my work and am privy to some back-end aspects of Facebook that disturb me (just to be clear, this is from presentations I've attended from companies that offer data mining from Facebook, not anything that my employer is actually doing). Facebook, from all the interactions you have with friends and companies online, knows all too much about you. I find myself confronted with ads on Facebook almost before I myself know I'm shopping for something. A couple years ago, days after my divorce and before I had openly communicated this to my friends, I had ads appear for dating services (specifically dating services tailored to divorcées). I'm not comfortable with the subtle cognitive shift that comes from an algorithm deciding what is most pertainant in my life on a given day.
I need to maintain an account as it's the way I access the admin for my work page. But I'm going to make it quite sparse and disconnect from all of you as 'friends' on Facebook. What I would ask you to do is, if you do want to commune with me, please reach out occasionally via email or the contact page here. I will also attempt to write more on my weblog and maintain a regular flow of thoughts (I just want to do it on my own terms and in a space where I'm controlling the back end of things). What I don't want to do is disappear from people's lives; I'm not leaving Facebook to withdraw but, instead, to more significantly and directly engage with people I care about. We can't do that in a quick skim through our timelines with ads for miscelleny inserted in the mix.
So, I'm here in a more focused way and want to keep the connections that we've taken time (whether a year ago or twenty) to have some part in each other's lives. I think, for me, that's not benefited by Facebook; I'd like to hear from you, dear friends; I just no longer want a social media page to be the arbiter of our connection.
I'm curious about two things now. One is how many people comment on this in Facebook vs. here on my weblog. The second is, after I post this and start cleaning out my account, whether I'll suddenly get a barrage of messages from The Algorithm asking me not to leave.