Mon Sep 13, 2010
Edit: this post was not readable because I used a “-” character in the title. Now it’s corrected. En Español.
Last night I clicked the ‘deactivate account’ link on Facebook. It was an exciting moment.
A Facebook group delayed my decision a few weeks. It’s a group where people from Mallorca shared links to electronic and dance music from the 90s and 2000s. It was a beautiful thing to build something with so many other people. It grew very fast, in a few weeks almost 900 members and 1700 songs. I discovered new songs, and names of songs I used to dance to. To help people avoid reposting the same songs, I built an online tool that collected all the youtube links in a list, then added a search engine. Suddenly the participants relied on this tool I was supposed to update every day. So I had to find a way to make it work without me. I tried many things. The Youtube API, the Facebook API, Firefox Greasemonkey extensions, Chrome extensions. I learned much and it was fun to play with those things and I found a way to make it continue without me. But the main question is…
Why close my Facebook account? I could give two answers. The short one is that something inside me felt it was the right thing to do. Many times I’ve had this kind of feeling, but I usually don’t accept it right away because it does not feel logical, it does not include a list of “why do it?” and “why don’t do it?” items. In the end this initial instinct is usually correct, but I need to justify it with the long answer.
The long answer contains my random thoughts about Facebook. One thing that has been on my head for a while is “what do I get out of it?” and I don’t find a satisfying answer to that question. I don’t know what I get out of it. Facebook feels like a room full of people talking to the walls. I feel most of the time there is no real conversation or discussion, just words flowing in every direction. For a while I just wanted to share in Facebook interesting things I found, kind of my small change to the world, but I can do that too with my own blog. I don’t want to be on Facebook just because it’s addictive, I need a better reason. Of course it has it’s positive sides. It was nice to hear from people after 25 years. But then putting all these people from different places and times together in one list in alphabetical order feels weird. I get along well with my ex-girlfriends, but why do they all have to be there together in a flat list, together with work colleagues, family, people I met on the street one time… It doesn’t feel right. Maybe some people should be part of the past. They had their role in my life, and I don’t need to “teleport” them back to the present. If we are still friends, we can communicate by e-mail, phone or even meet. Receiving an e-mail with a “I just arrived to work and I thought of you” feels special. A Facebook update with a “I just arrived to work.” message means nothing. I think it would be much nicer to get one e-mail a year from each of my 150+ contacts telling how’s life than 164.250 updates each year (150 * 365 * 3 updates / day). I have my own life to live :)
We only have a limited amount of energy and we should decide what to use that energy for. Paying attention and consuming information uses my energy. I recently read that now that we have smartphones we are not giving a necessary break to our brains: in the bus stop, waiting for someone, in the toilette… often I’ve been having this desire for some new information. I don’t like this feeling, this waiting for the red dot on the top blue bar in Facebook I’ve had sometimes.
During the last two years I’ve been trying to simplify my life. Have less things, and not only physical but digital stuff too. I spent one year deleting the songs I didn’t really like that somehow had ended in my hard disk. I merged 5 e-mail accounts into one account in Gmail. Before that I had to waste time every time I was going to travel, to copy all my e-mails from one computer to the other, and then back. Now all my e-mail is in one place, accessible from any computer. It’s less complicated. I got rid of my car, and just use bicycle and public transportation. So I pay less and it’s one responsibility less. I moved to Linux and I deleted all my Windows and Mac software. No more cracks or serials. No antivirus. Most software is downloaded from the Ubuntu Software Center. Easier than before. I used to have 3 different servers for my work, one in USA and two in Germany. I got rid of 2, now I only use one. Simpler.
Instead of having books in my shelf, I prefer to give them away so others can read them. I gave away the clothes I no longer use to those who need them. Somehow I feel more free having less objects and less files. I realize this when I travel carrying my backpack. I don’t miss any of the stuff I leave behind. It’s easier to change and improve your life when you don’t have a lot of things that keep you in the past.
As part of this process of simplification, last night I deleted not only my Facebook account, but also accounts in Deviant Art, Xing, Linked in, Foto Community and my second Twitter account. I still have over 200 passwords in my password manager to go.
Less is sometimes more :)