Happy Birthday, Mike

Mike and Maria at Bread Garden

My friend Mike posted this today on Facebook:

Mikes Facebook post

Perfect timing, Mike. I’ve been thinking lately about things tangential to Facebook. Blogging, time-wasting, privacy, permanence.

I really want to quit Facebook. Mike is right. I joined The Facebook because my friend Trucy told me I should. I used it initially to find out “What is the deal with so-and-so from my finance class?” Then I re-joined Facebook because it connected me with friends. There is still that huge value sprinkled in amongst a bunch of Slate articles. (It’s no problem really, Erik.)

Principled Zach hates that Facebook, a private company, is the one in charge of this. Recognizing the value Facebook has created, I also realize that I had a good circle of friends rolling their own before Facebook came along. Back in the golden age, several of us were occasionally blogging, and it was awesome.

Blogging was a lot more cumbersome and sporadic. When I got Opera with tab support, I would open all my friends’ blogs via a desktop shortcut and go through and most likely close each tab seeing that they hadn’t updated. But occasionally, I’d recognize a new post and get pumped. I still love my friends, but I don’t get that same rush when they share something on Facebook.

Facebook has made it a lot easier. There are so many ways to share something. There’s even a Notes feature which all of One of my friends uses. The easiest are quick photos or article shares. Occasionally people write their individual thoughts or announcements, but in the middle of all the other Timeline fodder, it doesn’t have the same curated feel as something like Twitter or Google Reader.

Just yesterday, I unfriended about 75 people. I had long since unfollowed them, but they were still just hanging out in my friends list. This was my first salvo in a concerted attack on my Facebook usage. I’d been considering my options on Facebook a lot recently. My first feeling is that I should just be allowed to quit it. I’ve done it before, and it was pretty sweet. It is still the most central source of connection with friends. Organizations, events and even potential employers sometimes exclusively operate out of there.

If I could get a pact from friends and events that they’d all provide reliable RSS feeds of Important Things Zach Needs To Know, I’d be off Facebook in a heartbeat. I’d pay extra in my taxes for a Socialized Facebook/Twitter that didn’t need to offer other things just to pay the bills. Or in Twitter’s case grasp at random things hoping it pays the bills. I’d love to see that idea floated around DC. I’d also love to see the Federal Government’s variation of social media.

I ain’t mad at Facebook anymore than I’m mad at myself. I know the value that exists within Facebook. I know the costs that come along with it. And I’ve sucked at managing the two. I could extract a similar amount of value out of it and spend way less time opening the app or Ctrl-T-“fa-“-ing. Unfriending 75 people isn’t going to help. It might restrict a little more who’s seeing my business, but I wasn’t seeing their business anyway. I just need to show some modicum of discipline.

So this is my plan of attack. First I’m going to write more.

This has to be the topic of like 50% of posts on Wordpress. “Hi guys, I know I haven’t updated in a while, but that’s going to change.” I have at least two of those. I’m adjusting my attitude a little on that. I used to think “Who cares?” Sometimes while in the middle of writing a long post. I’m doing that right now. Trust me.

But this time, I’ve decided I care. I suspect occasionally other people care. I’m going to leave that up to them. I will occasionally nudge people to something I feel a little more confident about or proud of. If they want to dig around and read shit like this, they can do that too. I’m not going to auto-post everything to Twitter. I’m not going to crosspost to Medium or worry about building up my klout or whatever. That should help me just create some things, even if just for myself.

Secondly, I’m going to do/build more. I’m focusing on building my own programming skills and a little bit of Arduino stuff too. I’ll track that progress. Whether it’s by listing courses I took or books I read or writing about a problem I ran into when learning something new. I’ll write updates on certain projects. I have a lot of opinions on things like baseball and business, and I’ll probably share those too.

Finally, I’m really going to try to use Facebook less. It sounds so simple, and I’m going to try to chip away at it.

On the flipside, I know I certainly care about other friends’ writing more. And even if they posted longwindedly about their internal struggle with Facebook, I know I’d read it. Even if fisherpriceman.blogspot.com is no more.