“All media work us over completely.” – Marshall McLuhan
I think Facebook has worked me over completely. Not social media in general (find me on LinkedIn, @jerrycourtney, +Jerry Courtney), this is specific to Facebook. Maybe I need talked off the ledge so to speak, but I don’t think so.
This isn’t another one of those parables about taking a break from Facebook for a little while in order to get some sort of long-lost perspective that allows me to pontificate about how things are different when not using Facebook so I have something to post about once I’m back on Facebook.
A few months back, that’s what I thought it would be. When I went on vacation in June, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and iPad. I wanted to be in the moment and really enjoy my time with family. It didn’t take long for me to adjust to life without Facebook. The compulsion to fill any down time with a scroll through status updates, post some random witticism, or check in left pretty quickly. If someone mentioned something I should take a look at or if I wanted to see if someone had messaged me, I’d just – gasp – go online and check it. But I haven’t even done that for quite some time.
What it’s about is coming to the realization that of the social media that I do use, I can’t seem to find a constructive, beneficial reason for using Facebook. It’s not so much about the fact that I find it exhausting to keep up with the streams and streams and streams of stuff people I know put there.
It’s more about the fact that I’m over the form of broadcasting any part of my life through the platform fishing for “likes” and comments that don’t seem to amount to even small talk or bring about a comment that doesn’t make sense.
It just seems most of what I’d consider placing on Facebook I’d rather do on an interpersonal level through different channels. You know, those old school ways of communicating like phone calls, emails, SMS/MMS, maybe even – wait for it – a photo or video sharing site that I only allow certain people to view. Basically, directly to the people I’m most interested in sharing with in a way that feels more personal.
A more critical view of things tells me its an audience issue. Whereas I have been much more purposeful in my curation of whom I follow and what I engage in via Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, Facebook somehow became a stew of family, friends, colleagues, people I’ve done business with, and assorted acquaintances that I can’t always remember what the connection to me is. Yes, I’m aware Facebook has tools to sort this all out, but Facebook is the only entity that benefits from me spending more time on Facebook to do that sorting.
To build the audience I want, it would be easier if I simply delete my account and start over with a defined objective for my Facebook use. God forbid people should discover I’ve unfriended them and post one of those “Well, I’ve just been unfriended. I guess someone didn’t like my [incessant political ramblings/over indulgent selfies/cat videos or pictures/invitations to play the latest Farmville-like game/support of teams that aren’t the Chicago Cubs or Chicago Bears/etc]. Oh, well they’re loss!” posts that gets dozens of likes and “Don’t let that bother you. You rock! It’s their loss! ” sorts of replies.
Some would say being in the marketing industry requires my time on Facebook. I’m not sure I agree with that. There’s enough industry coverage about what Facebook is doing, how Facebook is doing it, and speculation as to why they’re doing it to suffice. Outside of a truly relevant and major overhaul of the interface or some new purpose it might serve that requires personal investigation – other than mimicking or buying something that already exists elsewhere – there’s no legit professional reason I can see to stay on Facebook. Are they doing or trying to do interesting things with data and targeting? Sure. Does it require an actual engagement in the platform? Not that I can see. Is there exclusive content that exists on Facebook I can’t find elsewhere? Not that I’m aware of. I find better industry content, insight and engagement on pertinent issues via other social media platforms.
So I’m worked over by and worn out of Facebook as I’ve used it to date. In case I may not be seeing you around on the FB anymore, here are a few things I’d like to share… I love my wife. My son is handsome and smart. My daughter is beautiful and smart. My dogs are cool and fun. I go places. I watch stuff. I get mad about certain things. Some things make me happy. I have opinions and pet peeves. I take pictures of people and things I find interesting. I wish you a happy birthday when it’s your birthday. I like some of the things you post.