Friday 27 March 2009

I think I’m about done with facebook.  I’m sure some of you are thinking, “What are you THINKING?!?!” and others of you are more, “It’s taken you THIS long??” but it’s where I’m at.

I suppose I should clarify: when I say “done with facebook,” I don’t mean deleting my profile and exiling myself from (perhaps) the largest “social networking” site on the Internet, but rather just removing myself mentally from any feeling that it’s worth any more than the tiniest sliver of my time every month or two.  Moving somewhere that only has a dial-up Internet connection will likely make the “transition” a bit easier, but I think the time is right regardless of the situation of my life.

What started small during the 2003/2004 school year as a simple connection device for people has snowballed into an overwhelming cacophony of applications, causes, groups, fans, boxes, videos, tweets (I’m almost ashamed I know what those are), and probably many things I have no idea exist.  Once restricted to those with college e-mails, you can now get a profile with any (and every) e-mail you own.  What was for me a way to connect and stay connected — in the most basic of ways — with people I considered acquaintances and friends has turned into the online equivalent of show and tell where there’s no restriction of how long you present for or what you present about, and in fact we’ll assist you in presenting totally innane things that really have no value to anyone’s life whatsoever.  It’s gotten to the point where I think I’ll just keep the connections and recognize the positives for me in the whole endeavor — namely I can reconnect/update connections with people pretty quickly and easily — and dispense of all the excessive BS.  Facebook has become a place where you can write your memoir with no editor and include any multimedia you might want.

So things lately that have pushed me to this edge:

Friend requests for people I really have no reason to want to connect with — They might be distant relations or people I knew way back when but never really spent a lot of time with or connected with in the first place and have no desire to accept as a “facebook friend.”  Or former students I kind of know but it’s just a little akward to receive a request and hit yes…  I’ve denied a few, but then I’ve just gotten new requests from the same person, so now I just tend to leave them sit and ignore.

Facebook “e-mail” — OK, so I can understand if you don’t know my real e-mail and have to contact me through facebook, or if you’re sending something to a group, but if you know my e-mail, why do you have to send me a facebook-mail?  Most of the time I don’t see them when they arrive, and I usually forget to respond when I do, so if only for your sake, just send me a real e-mail.  Isn’t that one of the things e-mail is for?

Non-humans getting in on the action — So as if it wasn’t bad enough that a corporation has the same legal rights as a human, now they’re on facebook!  This isn’t a new thing, to be sure, but last night I heard on the local news, “Don’t forget to check us out on facebook and twitter.”  WTF?!?  Don’t you have something called a “website” where I could find you?  Why are you infiltrating the realm of humans?  Seriously, get out!

Everything that doesn’t matter — Really, “everything that doesn’t matter” could be most of the facebook experience.  Brian Unger recently did a satire with the premise that nobody really cares about all the mundane things we’re up to, so those status messages that tell people we’re in the shower (the third or so generation since “Away Messages”) need to end.  And for what it’s worth, all I need for “social networking” to really happen is a name, an e-mail, telephone, maybe a website, a person’s actual address, possibly their current career, and maybe, MAYBE, a little bit about a person’s likes and dislikes in areas like books, movies, TV, food, or a few other general categories.  And I guess I could accept some picutre.  Some.  And in case you’ve forgotten: THAT’S HOW FACEBOOK STARTED!

I’m coming up on my 5-year anniversary of “belonging” to facebook, and I really wish I could go back.  Though I, personally, almost can by what I decided to have in my profile and connect in the facebook universe.  I’d just have to remove the few applications I have decided to endorse by linking to them.  But with the constant inundation of all that is out there on facebook, I still feel trapped when I come across another’s profile and see the plethora of things out there that just make it, to me, a busy mess.

So whatever your opinion on the facebook world that currently is, I think my semi-close connection with it is coming to an end.  Instead, I think I”ll retreat to a lesser connection — facebook, you’ve been demoted to the status of “facebook friend.”  Good bye!


away messages

Thursday 18 September 2008

When I did most of my away message writing, it was pre-facebook (pre-2004), though I also did some away message writing before the “status” thing on facebook that tried to put a semi-long-term spin on the away message theme.  AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was always the biggest and best way to chat online with people (and from what I can tell it still is, though I’m not very apt in it anymore), and even when you weren’t chatting, you left a little message for people to read while you were gone.

Now the content of those messages fell into a few main categories, at least from memory (again, I’m going off things that happened circa 2006 and prior).  And even though it my still be current practice, I’m going to treat things as historical and write in past tense.  Though from my recent AIM pseudo usage, things haven’t changed too much, except that maybe people use AIM a little less now that facebook is around to help them waste their time.  But I digress…

One way to use away messages was to tell people where you were and/or what you were doing. This might also include the fact they one would “brb” (be right back) or such that you were reading but would take a break if someone wrote you.  I think I did this on occasion, but I almost never used the away message for the purpose it was most likely intended for.  There’s plenty of “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t” cyber stalking happening out there (and the advent of facebook added to that possibility — thank you very much Mark Zuckerberg), and I really didn’t feel like adding to the possibility of people knowing where I was at any given time.  I’m sure no one probably cared and I’m making myself up to be more important than I am, but regardless of the reason, it wasn’t my practice.

Another similar practice was to share with people either something that had already happened or something that was to happen in the future. Sometimes this would be a promotion to attend a certain play or event someone was in, or it might have been some past event with significance that seemed interesting or funny.  I would sometimes advertise an event, but I rarely did this.

One way I used away messages that I suppose would fit in this category is when I would vaguely sharing my emotional state or feelings with some kind of esoteric statement that really I only understood and knew the meaning to.  Not that anyone cared, but this led me to try and read into other people’s away messages, thinking they might be trying secretly expressing some inner feeling, maybe even speaking directly to me (as I was doing at times).  But probably not.

People might also just say general statements about life or their beliefs. Saturday night be filled with general statements about a football team winning or losing or about something someone had on their mind.  This category is the approach I read a lot of when I’m looking at facebook statuses (though people do write a lot of actual “status” information there, too).

People would share links to websites or online videos.  ‘nough said.

The final general category is pretty much contains any and everything else you could possibly think of. A lot of people would do quotes or song lyrics.  I would sometimes try and write something clever or cute or sarcastic — maybe like (I just thought of this 10 minutes ago), “If the early bird gets the worm, ten just be the worm that shows up late.”  I remember someone from camp telling me one summer they had enjoyed reading my away messages during the school year, even though we hadn’t really known each other during that time.  It was a way to entertain and be entertained and take a short break.

On a side note there, I remember that when my computer crashed after college (but while I was still using AIM), one of the things I was saddest about was the fact that I lost so many of the saved away messages I had loved to use and held dear to me.  I still kind of wonder what they were, but they are gone forever.  Such is life.

Now why did I write all this (which, I must say, is far below par for me and blog posts)?  Well, I thought that instead of a blog post (obviously that part didn’t happen this time), I might share some possible away messages that I thought about during the day — though as I was thinking more about them, I relized that my mind has started thinking about facebook status options instead of in terms of AIM away messages.  And I remember how for so long I never even put a status into my profile.  I guess, just as it happened with the cell phone, technology seems to such me in eventually (and that’s not always a bad thing).

So without further ado (or any more words), here is a part of my day in possible away messages/statuses:

eric left his spinach at the store.

eric is on YouTube!  (See my first upload.)

eric loved riding a bike to work again.

eric really wishes he could get his facebook profile name to be in lowercase letters.

eric will go to bed before midnight!

eric’s couch is also his bed.

eric still needs to unpack (but that’s what the weekend’s for).

eric wrote an extremely long blog but is too lazy to edit or cut any of it.

I’ll be back soon, don’t you worry!