tl;dr – Facebook does some stuff that I value really well. What can replace it?
Right now, Facebook is arguably the sugar/transfats/Big Tobacco of the
internet. And understandably so. Rational, sane people are not just
leaving FB for social media breaks, they’re downloading their data, and
deleting their accounts entirely for reasons I understand and respect.
What’s driving us the storm Zuck’s gates with pitchforks is the other
side of the coin that drove us to jump aboard back in the late aughts.
Everyone is here, everyone shared—though not as knowingly as we should
have—a pile of info that made it easier to find people and ideas. Some
of those ideas were embiggening for us. More were probably not. But
that’s a human thing rather than a technology thing.
I value this crack-house mattress fire of a platform for a couple of reasons.
1) Book Clubs: While not as easy to use as the forums/bulletin boards
of the past which made “discussion” of books pretty straight forward,
I’ve been a part of two Book Clubs where I learned a lot, enjoyed
correspondence with like-minded book nerds, and learned about additional
resources/links/obsessively detail-rich fan sites that I wouldn’t have
2) Connecting and re-connecting with people from
college, high school and camp who I either haven’t been in touch with
for a long time, or didn’t know that well at the time but have grown to
know better and respect through following/Friending on Facebook. I’m a
different person than I was 30 years ago (thank God). There are a lot of
people I’ve connected with who’ve made me think in new ways.
Sharing pictures of stuff that’s important, however it is that we
choose to define important. I like seeing pictures of your families as
they grow and change. I like seeing pictures of interesting places and
things. Is it braggy sometimes? Sure. Do I want to see pix of your feet
at the beach? No more today than I did nine years ago when this circus
opened. Am I guilty of all of these? You betcha. But that doesn’t take
away the fact that my kid leaving for a trip far away is as proud/happy
a moment for me as your pics of vacations and Don Williams’ pics of stunt cooking and his daughter.
4) The Sunset Grille effect. Besides being a highwater mark in the
history of Gratuitous Use of Roland Guitar Synth in Rock, Don Henley’s
1984 single ends with “What would we do without all these jerks anyway?
Besides, all our friends are here.” Centrality. My mom doesn’t have to
remember, app, or bookmark a Flickr stream to see pix of her
grandbabies. I don’t have to open an app on my hooptie laptop to
discuss weird typography as narrative in a book club. I can bore all of
you at once on Sunday morning. For (somewhat) better and (a lot) worse,
Facebook did create a virtual citystate where participation is the norm
rather than the exception. “What would we do” indeed.
As tech-affirming as I am, I don’t mean to serve as an apologist for the Menlo Park Menace.
I would, however, miss some fairly significant chunks of interaction
that Facebook has provided, and I’m curious to know where I’d be able to
find similar connectivity.
Where will you go? Who will go with you? How will you tell the people you value where you’ve gone and why?