I recently deactivated my facebook profile and did some other social network housekeeping, deleting old accounts too. The reason? The web can be a nebulous place. It’s not so much about hiding or even about sharing ‘too’ much information. I didn’t go out of my way to put out tons of information and I suppose there is merit to making a network smaller and cutting back the numbers of people one adds.
I didn’t succumb to “trading-card friend phenomenon” by adding lots of random people I didn’t know. It’s just when you live a little, travel a lot and have different experiences (or go to three different schools in different parts of the country) you start to rack up people. Sure, you can start to create layers of things certain people can see, etc., but that’s far more work than is worth the benefit.
So then the operative question becomes “what’s the point of this?” In an era of branding for brand’s sake and turning yourself into a piece of marketing collateral rather than an actual person, I can see how deactivating a social networking profile on a prominent site can be considered a faux pas of epic proportion. Maybe I’m supposed to find a way to get marginal utility from the tool. I just ceased to find it useful at this point in my life.
I used it solely to keep in touch with people I’ve lost touch with and there are a lot of them. Camp friends, kids I’ve taught tennis over the years, people I went to college with or have worked with, high school and childhood friends and of course, people I know and spend time with now. Family too. It’s just a big, big place. But when life change happens — or just when you’re in the midst of plotting and planning — sometimes, the white noise of your ‘social network’ can almost be like having family (or a choir of mosquitoes) buzzing in your ear.
The people who are really part of my ‘network’ will use an old-fashioned tool — the phone — and actually call. Or they’ll email. I’ll go back eventually and applaud the site for giving people the ability to “plug out” of the site for a while. I found it amusing when I deactivated that one of the reasons you can choose to leave is being “addicted to facebook.” (They suggest you limit the number of friends you have.)
Nope, I just needed a break from the noise for a while. Needed to connect with real people, real relationships and to find other venues (like this one) to have more meaningful interactions.