alternative futures: #deletefacebook05 Apr 2018
all that you touch,
all that you change,
today: jan 1 2019
i remember the day i started building the coffin for my facebook account. 5 april 2018.
it was a wild ride, and, like all wild rides, it had to come to an end.
i started my account when i was 17 and dual enrolled at tallahassee community college (tcc). at the time, facebook was just this weird thing college kids used. it still required a .edu email address. luckily, the fact that i was taking differential equations at tcc gave me that.
i barely remember how barebones it was, but i remember feeling cool.
over time, it grew and grew. when i started college, everyone was getting them. i don’t think we used it much, but i can’t remember.
as features got added, it got more and more interesting.
fast-forward. begin to add photos. events.
news. multiple types of likes. videos.
one more time.
cambridge analytica. brexit. djt.
again. 20 march.
dear friend, cronebone sends me this: #deletefacebook. i knew those things. and yet. i stayed.
4 april 2018. reading jaron lanier’s you are not a gadget. this section screams to me the answer.
“Our willingness to suffer for the sake of the perception of freedom is remarkable.”
i started a list of things that kept me on the platform so i could think through how to live without it.
- photos (especially photos tagged of me)
- being able to find and reconnect with old friends, colleagues, acquantaines, lovers.
some of these things feel irreplacable. they aren’t. we lived without facebook before. surely we can do it again.
i remember looking for scripts to download all my content. and then i realized, i probably just need my photos. it would be amazing to have all the posts and conversations as an archive of my life from 2006 to 2018… but i probably don’t need them.
i started telling more and more people. i made a countdown clock.
and then i did it early.
i wasn’t the first. but i was on the early side.
and then, just like facebook started, it started to collapse. my friends who worked there lost their jobs. it was ok, though. they were wealthier than anyone else in their lineages had ever been.
but before the collapse began, it felt strange, telling people i didn’t have facebook. but it gave me an excuse and a reason to build out my website and give it to more and more people.
jaron lanier was so right. giant platforms flatten creativity because we all start using the sum of provided checkboxes to differentiate ourselves from each other.
but that’s doesn’t make any sense. that was only ever a partial picture. i was always more complex than my checkboxes (gender, age, location, sexuality, religion, job). my custom-built website reminded me of that. myspace was more like that than facebook.
hopefully, we continue to move in the direction of more flexibility and creativity.
i don’t mean to gloss over the upsides. the benefits of facebook were nice.
but not nice enough to let them get rich off my privacy and data. and definitely not nice enough to let them sway global power dynamics.
and so i missed a lot of events. i didn’t see as many new babies. but i got much closer to people in my community. and i spent more time with my nephews. i helped them learn to read and ride ripsticks and meditate and pop popcorn and grow tomatoes.
i made more poetry and read more books. i built more things with my hands and grew more food.
i listened more and i wrote more.
and in the end, i think i was better for it. it was a good run, facebook. thank you for your service. but, as a wise man once said:
“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
facebook is the villian now. and it fought to stay alive. but in the end, we, humanity, moved towards life.
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