Because I can, is why. If I can live without Facebook, I can live without it. If I can't, then there's a problem, and I need to fix it - by the cold turkey route if necessary.
TBH, I think I can live without it quite easily. I did for years and years, and I only got roped in to having an account because people at FCOT wanted to use it for coordinating college-related meetings and stuff. So, now that FCOT is over, I've decided that for the sake of maintaining my individuality, free will and principles (yes, those), I shall deactivate my account. The aforementioned principles are mostly to do with the fact that FB is a massive time-waster. The vast majority of what goes on FB is a load of *beep*.
I've got a two-week timeframe. There's a Root Hill reunion a week on Saturday, which is being coordinated via FB, but once that's over I shall quit.
If you want a more philosophical-sounding reason, then how about this: because your life should be more than the sum of your websites. If you find yourself at the point where you couldn't survive without any given site, then that site has become too dominant over you, and you need to get rid of it. I'm not ditching FB because I think it has come to that, but to prove that it hasn't.
I've just shut down my account on another site too. That was Tailcast, past tense.
It began life as a social-networking-esque thing with an artistic slant. The focus was on writing, drawing, painting, photography and music, as opposed to the "here's a pointless update on the banal stuff I did today" ethos of most Facebook posts. A search through my old emails tells me that I joined on the 24th of May, 2008 – nearly two and a half years ago. That sounds about right. It feels like a long time.
While I was there, I uploaded 81 visual pieces, and 27 written. In total, over 100 expressions of myself, including some of the most personal and intimate things I have ever published. The written pieces included my first blog (A White Horizon is my second).
But something went wrong – the seeds of it snuck in by the back door a long time ago, like so: “wouldn’t it be cool if we had a ‘shop’ feature, where you could buy cards and wall art and stuff featuring the artwork uploaded to TC?” Well, fair enough. But as time went by, and the site kept getting more and more polished, there was a gradual but definite shift in emphasis, away from the community spirit that made Tailcast what it was in the old days, and towards commercialisation. At the beginning of September, I got an email telling me that any artwork which did not meet the minimum resolution for creating products would be forcibly set to ‘private’, effectively removing it from my profile unless I put in the effort to re-upload newer, higher-resolution versions. Well, out of my 81 visual uploads, a mere 7 were deemed high-res enough to stay online, and the other 74 have vanished from my profile without a trace (unless I log in and click ‘manage profile’ – then I can see them, but they’re greyed out).
Now, having the option to make cards and wall art and stuff is all very well and good, but most of the time that’s not what people want to do. Mostly, people just want to look at stuff. I, for one, just wanted to look at stuff, not stick it on a mug. And for the webmasters to make the unilateral decision that “low-res artwork is unworthy to stay online, even just for looking at” seems to me like shooting themselves in the foot.
I had been gradually (and unintentionally) drifting away from Tailcast anyhow, but that bizarre and unfriendly decision was the final nail in the coffin for my membership. As of a couple of weeks ago, I have gone through all of my written material on the site and copied it all to my hard disk for posterity – didn’t need to do so for the visual stuff, as that was all on my HDD already – and about half an hour ago, I finally shut down my account.
Strange thing is, the whole website went HTTP 404 on me when I was about three-quarters of the way through copying everything. It’s almost like the servers could sense my intention, and were making a last-ditch effort to stop me leaving. But it didn’t work. The site came back from the ashes, and I continued my exit procedure.
So, that's over. And soon, FB will be too. Not that I'm completely parting company with the internet, mind you - I've still got email, this blog, and my YouTube channel, among other things. I'm just pruning off the sites that aren't contributing anything worthwhile to my life.
And who knows what else I'll come across later. Watch this space!
- The Colclough