I’ve been meaning to change the way I approach the internet for a while now.
My daily routine has been to get up in the morning, boot up my computer, make some coffee, sit down and then just start mindlessly clicking all the icons I have up in my bookmark toolbar, opening them in different tabs. Facebook first, then Twitter, then e-mail, then blogger or whatever.
I dutifully look at any notifications or messages I get on Facebook, then any @’s I get on Twitter, then delete all my e-mail spam and newsletters (because I hardly ever get real e-mails from real people).
Now, what I like doing on the internet … is not any of these things. I do like having Twitter conversations, and have some cool friends on there who will talk with me about whatever. I like looking at a few choice Tumblr accounts that I am following. I like reading blogs on bloglovin’. I like getting e-mails from actual people and responding genuinely. And I’d like to look at more productive or educational sites more often. Probably looking at a TED talk every once in a while wouldn’t kill me. And what about the news?
You know what I don’t like? Reading people’s Facebook diaries. Looking at 15 versions of the same family photo. Rap lyrics as status updates.
I don’t like that Facebook makes me “feel” surrounded by friends and connected to so many people who aren’t really there. It’s given me a false sense of security and an inflated ego. Like, “Oh I know so many people in Mexico.” No. No, I don’t. I’ve literally lost touch with everybody from 2007 (I went to school in Mexico in 2007 btw), unless you count liking a random sarcastic quote every now and then from one girl in Xalapa, or creeping on another guy’s photos as being friends.
I don’t like the idea that I was sort of “collecting” people in my friends list. Tattoo artists, people with cute pets, actors, musicians, world travelers … I felt like “who cares if I never talk to them, I couldn’t possibly delete this person or that person, what if their band comes to town? What if I go to their city and need a hook-up? What if the guys at my work are talking about someone and I don’t know who it is?” And that, my friends, is shameful behavior, even though I wasn’t doing it consciously. A cool reputation, convenience or potential fame is never a good reason to keep somebody as a friend, be it in real life or on Facebook.
Facebook is also the number one website I cannot understand anymore.I can’t understand all the formatting changes it is constantly going through. I can’t understand why it was asking me to tell it who my siblings are and my phone number or how it chose the ads to place on my sidebar. I can’t understand why it was only showing me around five percent of my friends’ status updates and none from other people or how it decided what “top news” was from those people.
Basically I was feeling like I signed a contract without reading it and that was starting to creep me out. It was frustrating and confusing me on a daily basis, and it was making me feel a false sense of security in its “private” messaging system (which, as we all know, is not so private as we’d like to think). Not to mention the constant updates from people I’ve never met and people I should have rightfully lost touch with ten years ago.
And then I realized I am volunteering all this time and effort. I am physically clicking the blue square F icon and it is my hand and eyeballs scrolling through people’s status updates about their dog’s eating habits or whatever.
It’s my responsibility to do something about it.
And so I did.
Yesterday I deleted everyone except family members who use facebook actively, my tattoo shop “family” and a couple friends who are active-ish on Facebook, do things I find interesting and use it in the same way I am striving for. Not as a diary or a daily complaint log. Or a game sharing site. Or a meme-posting location. That’s what Tumblr’s for ladies and gents. Reblogs for days.
I had two hundred and eighty something friends I think, and now I have sixty one, around ten of whom are these weird ghosts of people who deleted their account and I can’t get rid of. Like grey, head-shaped place holders.
I then changed my profile banner pic to this:
Facebook does not make things like this easy. I had to literally open everybody’s individual page and unfriend them there. But I did it. And I deleted the icon from my toolbar. And today? I forgot to look for Facebook already. The habit is already partly broken.
Next on the agenda? Unsubscribing from EVERYTHING in my e-mail and figuring out Twitter lists. Because sometimes y’all are funny and sometimes I just want to read what some specific internet superfriends have to say from across the globe.