Do you ever reach for the refrigerator door and then think to yourself: "Why am I here? I'm not even hungry!" I do this all the time--often as I'm trying to figure out what to do between tasks. It's a reflex. Only it's not the refrigerator door, it's Facebook.
Somehow, Facebook has become the Seinfeld bass transition for real life. It's what I pop to as I'm redirecting my attention from writing to watching a video to stopping at an intersection at a red light. The platform that did a good job of reconnecting me with old school friends and people I met overseas slowly became the reflexive way to kill off a few minutes before and after every activity. And in that time, it stopped doing what I wanted it to do in the first place.
Slowly, Facebook stopped working for me, and I started working for it. I can't see all of my friends posts in a purely chronological feed anymore. I can't be sure that my friends see the updates I post, and why post them if not to share them with others? Large swaths of my friends list are either silent or invisible to me. I'm no longer in touch with people in much of a meaningful way, and Facebook chooses to show me the videos and articles and surveys that my friends like more than the stuff ABOUT those people that initially made the service appealing. Is it the fault of the platform or the user behavior? With Facebook, the user behavior is manipulated by the platform, so that's not even a fair question.
Think about toasters. Sure, toasters have evolved over the decades, but mostly, they still do the same thing now as they have always done--apply controlled heat to bread to produce something magical. Some toasters add new features like timers and automation and settings, but they still fundamentally serve the purpose of toasting bread.
Now imagine if one of those features like a timer was so good that it took over. What if people stopped toasting bread with their toasters and just used them for clocks, timers, and alarms? What if the timer features were so good that it made sense for you to ditch your existing clocks. If toasting bread became a secondary concern for the toaster, and people really liked toasters because they were great at being programmable clocks, wouldn't we think "gee, it's odd that this thing has slots for bread"? (The same thing has happened with smart phones, of course.) We would! And to me, this is Facebook. I wanted it to toast my bread, but it doesn't do that very well anymore because it's gotten very good at prompting me to use it for everything BUT toasting bread.
So I'm out. The biggest problem here is that many events and conversations happen ONLY on Facebook now. That's great for Facebook's advertisers, but not so great for me. People who avoid Facebook miss out on announcements and invites and events unless people can share them in other ways. I'm going to lose out on a way to contact a lot of people for whom I don't have email addresses or phone numbers. But you know, it's time.
So please, share your details with me privately if you want to stay in touch. I have a Bandcamp page, a Soundcloud account, a rarely-used Twitter account, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, zeroplate.net, eBay, and for heaven's sake even a Google+ page. I'm always mjeanes or zeroplate, so pretty easy to find. Just not on Facebook anymore. I want to go back to toasting bread.
I still exist in the real world, and I'd much rather talk to you there anyway!