Saying Goodbye To Facebook
Back? OK, since I wrote that piece a few things have changed. One, I have many more "Facebook friends" than I did at that time and, most of those additions are folks I wouldn't know if I tripped over them. That doesn't mean they are not lovely people and I suspect the reason most of them asked to be friends is because they liked something I wrote, so I'm grateful for that interest. Some of them are folks to whom I sent a "friend request" because I was interested in them. My decision is NOT about them...
MEDIA CONVERSION TO FACEBOOK COMMENTS
Something else has happened. Both of our local print and online media outlets - The Daily Pilot and The Orange County Register - finally got tired of dealing with the avalanche of comments on their articles and the time it took to edit them so they took an easier way out - they washed their hands of it - requiring all commenters to be on Facebook. They apparently assumed there would be a good deal of self-editing if people actually had to attach their names to their comments. From that standpoint it has seemed to work out.
ABDICATING CONTROL OF CONTENT
However, in doing so both of those fine newspapers have abdicated a significant chunk of their "content" to an outside entity that has no skin in the game. The "comments" are no longer governed by the standards established by the respective newspapers - they belong to Facebook and Facebook defines the rules of the game, controls who gets to play in their sandbox, and for how long. An algorithm in the Facebook server farms decides whether a complaint about "abuse" is valid or not and, apparently arbitrarily, punishes those who violate that algorithm. These fine publications have allowed thin-skinned whiners and an algorithm in a server farm decide what is appropriate for publication on their digital space. There are 1st Amendment issues at play here that I can't begin to resolve.
The result of that control is that the comments in both of those publications have diminished in their relevance, which is a shame. Yes, there are still some interesting comment threads, but I recall the "good old days" when a 100 comment thread on a Daily Pilot article was not unusual and, for the most part, those that made it through the editing screen used to maintain civility on the site produced some pretty darn relevant discussions on the issue at hand. Not so much anymore. I do admit, though, that in the case of the Register comments, some became so vile, nasty and mean-spirited that they were virtually unreadable. Hence, the change to Facebook.
A MARKETING TOOL
As I mentioned in my earlier entry, I joined Facebook originally to have an additional marketing tool for my blog. That worked out just fine. I have many more readers than I did four or five years ago and the page views will probably hit 1 million in January. Of course, much of that is due to the contentiousness of local issues over the past few years and part of that growth is certainly due to my new "friends" on Facebook. Thanks for that.
DESPITE THE LOSSES, I'LL SAY ADIOS TO FACEBOOK
But, after much contemplation and consideration about what I will be giving up - watching sweet Caroline grow up before my eyes; the opportunity to tease my friends Anita and Rusty about their persistent photos of each other with wine glasses half full (or empty, depending on your viewpoint); the ability to be in contact with my great-nephew, Nathan, when he's deployed in dangerous places around the world; those spontaneous musings by my friend, Byron, about his kids and the evolution of their lives, photos of his artistic meals and his brilliant analysis of issues when he chooses to engage himself in them, plus all the other snippets of the lives of others I see every day - I've decided to cease my participation on Facebook.
NO LONGER IN THE MOSH PIT
I realize that once I pull that plug I will no longer be able to post comments on articles that provoke me in our local media. I will no longer be able to spar with those who don't share my viewpoint. On the positive side, I'll no longer be jumping from status page to status page, trying to see what everybody is talking about. It's just plain exhausting. I'll still be able to submit letters and commentaries - unless corporate policy turns that over to an algorithm, too - but won't be able to keep that ball rolling once I give it the initial kick. That will be up to others. I can live with that...
TENDING MY CROP
There are many reasons why I've made this decision. One of them is because, at my age, I'm losing real "friends" at an increasing pace and that bothers me - a lot. There are just so many minutes in each day, but I find myself casually immersing myself in the lives of strangers instead of tending to the real friendships I've spent decades nurturing. The recent ninth anniversary of the passing of my best friend since we were five years old probably helped me tighten my focus on what is really important.
CUTTING THE CORD
So, sometime soon - probably the first of the year - I'm going to cut my tie to Facebook. The link to this post will be there and I will continue to market my blog there until the day I officially snip the Facebook umbilical cord. I will probably never forgive Zuckerberg and his minions for devaluing the word "friend" in our society, but I do appreciate the acquaintanceship of those of you who have communicated with me on Facebook - my "after Facebook" friends. If you care to engage in a discussion on issues of the day that I address on my blog, you are welcome to do so. If you don't want to wrestle in that particular mud pit, here's an email address where you can reach me - email@example.com. I'll be happy to hear from you on any issue that you feel is important or just to chat, but it won't be on Facebook.
AND YOU, TOO...
Those of you who are "before Facebook" friends already know how to reach me at other email addresses and, of course, I always look forward to your thoughts and wise counsel.
"Who gives a rat's rear about West deciding to bail out of Facebook?", you ask. "What an arrogant, self-absorbed SOB that West guy is to think anyone cares!", you say. Well, you're probably right on both counts, but I thought there might be one or two people - "Facebookians", as my nephew refers to them - who might wonder about my disappearance from the Land Of Zuckerberg, hence this explanation.
STILL IN THE GAME AFTER SOME NECESSARY TIDYING-UP
As I said above, I'm not going to stop expressing my opinion on issues I feel are important, but my life was becoming much too cluttered and this is one step in the housekeeping I need to do. Soon, with mixed emotions, I'll bid Facebook a not-so-fond adieu and just keep on moving forward.