I finally did it. I killed my Facebook account once and for all.
I briefly tried out Facebook last year, and quickly discovered that it didn't suit me. Too many distractions, too much cruft. Too many "invitations" to a game or application. Just what the @#$% is Farkle, anyway? And, for whatever reason, I just prefer to conduct my online activities in a completely open and public manner, in front of God and everyone. If I want to keep something private, that's what email is for. So I did the logical thing--I deactivated my account.
This was fine by me, but like everyone else I have friends who want to interact through Facebook, including one who's gone pretty much Facebook-only. I knew that FB had introduced "Facebook Lite" a while ago, so I thought I'd log in and take a look at it. Sure enough, it mostly fixed the signal-to-noise ratio, but it basically looked like Friendfeed, where I already have an account (and which was purchased recently by Facebook). I couldn't see where this added any value to my Internet experience, but it would give me a less annoying way of dealing with FB.
So, next I decided that if I was going to stick around, I'd pare down my information. No need to have all my contact info associated with something that's basically a glorified Twitter feed, right?
The problem was, Facebook had other ideas. I went into the settings and started deleting info and setting highly restrictive privacy settings. No go. When I tried to view my profile as someone else, it still showed all of it. I tried again. Still no go.
Well, I know better than to wrestle with a pig--you just get dirty, and it annoys the pig. I wasn't using the account anyway, so I decided to just kill it. A quick Google search turned up what I was looking for:
This handy little page is the Holy Grail for those who want to delete their Facebook accounts. A couple of clicks, and the deed was done. Facebook sent me an email saying my account would be irretrievably deleted within 14 days.
Of course, this still leaves me with the problem of my Facebook-oriented friends. The solution? Once my account is deleted in a couple of weeks, I can open a new account and keep a very tight rein on it.
You see, I'm not all that sure I want to get back in. Here's how I see it: I'm easy to find. Run a Google search on my (very common) name, and I usually show up on the first page. I'm on Twitter, Friendfeed, Flickr, and Plurk. I have a Google profile with links to everything. I run a blog on my own domain, which is my real name. Practically everything I do has an RSS feed. It was actually harder to find me on Facebook than by spending five seconds on Google.
So people can find me, and they can follow me if they so desire. And if I want to follow them?
That's a harder question, and it has a harder answer. If they want to do their thing in a walled garden, that's their choice, and God bless them. But I'm not inclined to follow them there. For better or worse, Facebook reminds me of 1996, when everyone I knew told me I had to get on AOL because the chatrooms were just so cool. I opted to do otherwise, and it proved to be the right decision. Although I know I'm swimming against the tide on this one, I'm confident I'm making the right decision now.
In the end, it boils down to this: if you and I were friends on Facebook, you may have noticed me dropping off your friends list. Don't take it personally. It's not you--it's the site. I might come back, or I might not. If I do, I'll let you know. If I don't, you know where to find me.