Commentary

Four years with Facebook: enough.

On May 9, 2009 I will graduate from college. On this day, I will take part in one more ceremony that I consider necessary and entirely appropriate for my leaving college. I am going to delete my Facebook account. I was one of the incoming freshmen in college that got to be the first generation of users, and I think that it makes sense for me to move on, or perhaps back, to more professional, if “primitive” ways of communicating with my friends and colleagues. I plan to exchange all contact information with the people I intend to keep in touch with, save some of my photos, and then hit the delete button.

This is indeed an act of rebellion, the same as my refusal to buy a phone with a camera in it or update to the internet my whereabouts every second of every day; and it’s one that I wish more of my classmates intended to pursue. Facebook has been a fun way to interact with friends and some professors over the past four years, but I just don’t see it being part of my life after I’ve left the university environment. I hope to maintain friendships; or maybe find out which ones were purely topical and which ones genuinely remembered it was my birthday when they posted on my wall. This I will accomplish through personal e-mails, phone calls, and even perhaps a letter sent the old fashioned way: hand-written, addressed and stamped to let someone know I took more than 3 seconds to log on and stalk them before saying “haha! that was so funny last night when you did that thing! lol :)”

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Then there’s the question of the embarrassing interview when a potential employer pulls out a photo of you in the background at some bar sticking pretzels up your nose that you weren’t even aware was taken. Not that I have any such photo of myself out there, (mainly because I don’t stick pretzels up my nose on any occasion) but the principle of the matter is that I’m not comfortable not having control over the image I present to the world. I’ve untagged myself from plenty of photos simply because I didn’t know they had been taken.

Some people have been talking recently about changes in the terms of use, and how after a certain date something happens that will give you less control over what or how you post information etc. Honestly, I haven’t read the terms of use, but if anybody thinks that they had any real control over anything posted on the internet in the first place, they’re kidding themselves in a dangerously delusional way.

4 comments about "Four years with Facebook: enough.".
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  1. Trevor Stafford from Red Canary, March 9, 2009 at 10:11 a.m.

    Posts like these make me laugh.

    Leaving Facebook is not an act of rebellion, it's a choice. Not having a phone with a camera doesn't make you a rebel, it makes you a statistical anomoly.

    So does leprosy however, or a superfluous nipple.

    I respect your choice, but I don't understand why people need to hold up a 'I'm leaving " sign -- like it's a technology protest. I can't help but think they take themselves (and media) too seriously.

    There's nothing inherently invasive about Facebook and its ilk. They are just another way to stay in touch. They are simply a window on people's lives. Like 2nd cousins, peripheral relationships will exist -- or not exist -- in your life regardless of whether you are on Facebook or not.

    PS: about the 'employer thing'. Facebook allows you to filter what friends and visitors 'see' of you to an absurd level. Want absolute privacy? Dictate it.

  2. Steve Gustavson from Omniture, March 9, 2009 at 10:21 a.m.

    There are many, many professionals at my work using Facebook. I am a married adult, with a child, so I am cautious about how I use the tool (and I call it a tool, because it allows me to more easily do certain things). I don't see any issues with using it professionally—my CEO does!

  3. Nidhi Makhija from Experience Commerce, March 9, 2009 at 11 p.m.

    I once quit facebook for a week in the hopes of deleting all my info, and of passing my junior year of college. But then I stopped getting invited to social events (movies, dinners, parties, barbeques, shows my friends were in). It made me realize that I could limit my use of it, but a lot of people still rely on FB to set up events.

    On the other hand, I've graduated now and have colleagues and practically my entire extended family as friends on FB. I definitely don't use it in the same way as I used to while in college.

    Good luck with getting rid of your account! And don't feel bad if you choose to come back.

  4. Tory Lynne, March 12, 2009 at 10:38 a.m.

    You say "but if anybody thinks that they had any real control over anything posted on the internet in the first place, they’re kidding themselves in a dangerously delusional way." You may be right, but does removing yourself from the situation give you anymore control over it? I'd say it's exactly the opposite. If you have a profile, you have the choice to make it private, to untag pictures, to make it as personal or professional as you want.

    The only thing you do by leaving is giving yourself less options and less of a voice to say "that's not who I am" if/when someone mis-represents you. Control your own reputation instead of giving someone else the option to do that for you.

    Just my two cents!

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