Monday, April 29, 2013

Exit Planet Facebook

So, this is the last straw. I'm leaving Facebook.

I've been too caught up, not so much talking to real-life friends (which FB is useful for keeping track of) but having discussions with various interesting online people and groups.

This is ludicrous. Most of these conversations could be had anywhere. We used to have them on blogs and wikis. Or on Tribe. Or Slashdot.

We don't need to give this power to Zuckerberg and Facebook. We shouldn't have let our social AND intellectual lives get enclosed like this.

I've been saying this for a long time, of course. But this time ... I mean it. I've logged out of FB. I haven't deleted the account yet because I want to make sure the message I sent to all my FB friends doesn't disappear too. But I'm gone.

There's also a deeper problem, which I may have mentioned before. I think Facebook has essentially reinvented TV. It's an absolutely lousy medium for thoughtful discussion. Long comments are truncated to a couple of lines. Your actual content is squashed into a narrow column between acres of adverts / chat and infrastructure and is unceremoniously flowed off the page as quickly as possible. Facebook's design is ruthlessly optimised not to let you talk and listen but to keep you titillated with NEW items. Little hits of stimulation (an easily shared new image / meme;  status from a DIFFERENT friend you hadn't thought about in the last 10 minutes.) etc. All your emotional / personal connection to people is harnessed to keep you fixated on an overwhelming flux and your response to little more than automatic "likes" and "forwards".

The patterns of Facebook interaction are as disinforming and dis-empowering as the mindless channel hopping that TV promoted.

Marshall Mcluhan was right: the shape of a medium swamps its actual content. It's time to say no this perverse refinement of the flow internet and look for something that enables productive networking, thought and discussion.



2 comments:

Daniel Lemire said...

I think that Facebook is marketing to people who could not have these discussions elsewhere. They don't even know what this "elsewhere" is.

phil jones said...

It may be marketed to them, Daniel Lemire. But it's used by people who could have these elsewhere and ought to know better.