my statement on/ to the facebook, with heavy influence from danah boyd:
Social software applications (read: friendster, myspace, facebook, in which a user articulates an identity and visualizes existing social connections and networks new ones) have been of interest for a long time. However, I’ve realized the error of my ways—while I still have some waning affection for apps in which identity articulation is of secondary interest (especially 43Things, a goal-setting, support group style social software), these identity-primary apps now bother the hell out of me. So I’m deleting all my accounts. I’ve set the date for Jan. 23, 2007, unless I’m taken down beforehand.
It’s the self-production that really bothers me, even more than the replacement of “friends” with “friendsters” in the social economy (see danah boyd, http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_12/boyd/index.html) and comfortable, safe social space with cyberspace. Indeed, that is more of a response to a need than a production or a displacement—there is no “place” per se where kids, especially the geeks, can be together freely and safely. Instead, they hang out in the network.
I did see this coming (http://www.amygda7a.com/?p=5). Eventually this style of self-identification becomes mundane, adolescent. I am no longer in a position where I wish to be identified by my list of favorite books or bands. My identity is no longer fluid enough that I get pleasure from rearranging it publicly or posting notes to create a sought-after appearance. Maybe it’s because I’ve found a vocation, or because I’m pretty sure I’m in love to stay, or I’m reaching critical mass of humans I can keep close. Here I am. For better or for worse.
There’s also the matter of facebook’s privacy invasion. The perpetual, streamlined gossip that pops up every time I log in as the facebook news feed puts an uncomfortable twist on an ordinary social scene. It’s not like normal gossip that must be sought out or might even go unnoticed, but gossip presented in such a way that I feel like I’ve got everyone’s phone line tapped, like my contacts exist as information more than they are anything else. Why should I want to keep an eye on everyone’s business? I would suggest that it’s the same reason that moves me to turn myself into a virtual advertisement (btw, I don’t condemn this universally—myspace is great if you’re a band looking for gigs, and I predict it will eventually become more blatantly commercial, an online business directory). My “friends” are as objectified as I am to myself.
Facebook provided a great service—it was wonderful to find again those of you with whom I’ve been out of touch for some time and have the equivalent of a handshake and a brief chat. You may still find me at http://www.amygda7a.com, on 43 Things & co. (for now!), by the email listed above or
—, or you may give me a damn phone call.