Posts Tagged ‘ Facebook ’

Goodbye Facebook Part 2: Life After Facebook


Four months ago I quit Facebook.

I was nervous, filled with trepidation about how my friendships would proceed next. My quitting Facebook was not an impulse decision. I was finally taking my friendships back, showing my friends that I was tired of the broadcast environment and that I wanted to spend more time with them on a far more personal level. What happened next?

Several friends immediately contacted me to setup lunch plans, make sure I had their contact information and generally show their support and encouragement for my decision. Many agreed with me but weren’t ready to close their own account. One wrote me in angry protest.

My blog post about quitting Facebook went semi-viral. My biggest post to date, it still rakes in regular traffic here. The web response was unreal, more than 80,000 hits in a 24 hour time period. As a nominal blogger, these numbers are huge to me. I couldn’t keep up with the comments here on the blog, Google Plus, reddit and Hacker News. As a writer, it’s hugely flattering to find your words carried meaning for others. For everyone who read my first post, thank you.

I will admit, I feel slightly cut off now that I’ve stepped away from receiving the broadcasts of every small detail of the daily lives of my 200 or so closest friends and family. People truly do have to take an extra step to loop me in to their lives. What’s been impressive are the number of people that take that extra step. I’m learning, quite clearly, who truly values my input.

Having lunch with a friend, she suddenly remembered news that she’d already shared online. “Oh yes! You’re not on Facebook, let me tell you about….” But you know what? I loved hearing it from her personally rather than reading a post. It was far more fun, more personal to hear the story over a shared meal at our favorite restaurant. Being able to see the happy glow in her eyes, share laughter and smiles and give her a hug at the end far outweighed reading smaller updates on a daily level.

My circles have grown much smaller, but infinitely tighter. On the flip side, losing all that extra “noise” in the background has helped me focus on deepening the actual relationships I share with them. I’ve withdrawn from my circle of friends somewhat, but the individual interactions are richer and deeper. Gone are the daily hellos, traded in for afternoons at the beach, lunches at our favorite restaurants, emailed photos when a friend stumbles on to something that reminds them of me.

I have one friend in particular that was upset I left Facebook. She felt I’d traded Facebook for another social network. She didn’t realize that I use them for different purposes and I wasn’t swapping one for another. She seemed angry and after one awkward dinner, we haven’t spoken, texted or emailed since.

I was deeply saddened that she’d let my leaving Facebook come between us. Then I realized something very important: We’d been drifting apart for several years now. The only thing really holding us together was the superficial ties on Facebook. I think, rather than keeping the friendship afloat, Facebook prolonged the inevitable death throes of two people moving in different directions. Facebook was a tool to help falsely maintain an ending friendship. We’d simply grown too far apart.

I want my interactions with my friends to be honest and real. I don’t want to maintain a friend list because “I should”. I want the people who keep me around to do so because they like and value my company and opinion. I’m not going to lie, I still miss seeing a lot of those status updates and photos. But I also know that each time someone calls, emails or texts me – it’s because they wanted to share that specific moment with me.

And, for the first time in 10 years I did not call my friend and sing to her on her birthday. Sometimes, it’s best to just quietly slip away.

Liberating My Facebook


I did it. I finally make that agonizing decision to cut the virtual cord and quit Facebook. 

I announced it publicly both on Facebook and through my blog here. I wanted to give my friends time to download all my information and I knew they didn’t all log in daily.

Then it hit me. That horrible sinking feeling as I realized I didn’t have all their information either. I couldn’t just arrogantly announce I was leaving and expect all of them to contact me if I wasn’t willing to put some effort in from my end.

I suddenly realized that if I didn’t save their information before closing the account it would *poof* vanish into thin air. Terrorized at the thought of all their phone numbers and emails evaporating from my phone in a mere instant, I broke into a cold sweat as I painstakingly attempted to export their data.

Once again I’ve grown lazy. It’s so easy to just link the accounts and never have to manually track phone numbers and emails. And again, the point is crystal clear that I’m not taking ownership of my relationships.

Then, the popular argument for keeping Facebook, “I’m just doing it to stay in contact with my friends” suddenly hit home hard.  As much as I detest how far our interactions have deteriorated, I paused to consider leaving a placeholder behind to keep the contact list. Unfortunately, that would entirely defeat the whole purpose of closing the account. Moving forward, resolved strengthened, I knew I needed to cut off the Facebook serpent right at the head.

This next part is about how I managed to liberate my contacts from the iron-clad Facebook grasp. Facebook clearly didn’t want me leaving but I was determined. Some of you may have different experiences, but I thought I’d share how I finally managed it.

My first stop, the download feature within Facebook turned up fruitless. This only works if people have opted in and all the default email addresses were now Facebook email addresses rather than their main ones. One Google search later yielded the Yahoo – Facebook solution. Seemed simple enough, log into Yahoo and use the import Facebook feature. The problem was, it just hung there. It said it was downloading, but no. No error messages, no completion, just a frustrating, endless loop.

The next time I went to my Yahoo account it gave me the opportunity to sign in with Facebook. When I took that route, the Facebook contacts dropped right in! Better yet, they had their real email addresses. Turns out I had a nice list, but the export function apparently went no where. It seems the Big Bad Facebook worked very hard at breaking as much download functionality as it could muster.

Weary at the prospect of copy/pasting each person into my regular contact list my entire day brightened when my Knight in Shining Armor charged in and automated the process. Fueled by a fierce debate on my Google Plus commentary, he made me a script that gathered the data and saved it nice and neat in a ready to upload CSV file. Want to do the same? He even freely posted it for you: http://campkludge.org/?q=yahoocontactexport

Within minutes my Contacts were complete and I disabled my Facebook account. Of course Facebook tried to guilt me into staying first: Are you sure you want to leave? Your 219 friends will miss you no longer be able to contact you.

Oh yeah? Who cares….I can contact them any time my little heart pleases. Suck on that Facebook. My communications are no longer held hostage by you.

Goodbye Facebook


Let’s get something straight: This is not a Facebook hate post.

That being said, I’m running a little experiment of disabling my Facebook account. Why you ask?

I first joined Facebook to stay in contact with a group of friends I’d met through an online direct sales forum. I was quitting direct sales and no longer visited the forum, but wanted to stay in touch with the friends I’d met there. They were my very first “internet friends” and meant a lot to me, even though I could no longer really relate to their threads any longer. These friends saw me through one of the most challenging times of my life, when money was short and my relationship was in the toilet. Next I had a few “real life”  friends sign up and suddenly I had this beautiful, amazing walled garden where I could let it all out , carefree. I ranted, I raved, I cried, I shouted, I giggled – early on this core group saw an unfiltered version of me.

Then the high school acquaintances, professional connections and more distant family members found me. I made a decision early on to largely keep my professional contacts off Facebook. I’m glad I did so, but my posts became more and more filtered as the “Friend” list increased. Now, they were all getting the facade, the highlights because I donned the “happy” mask. My closer friends were still caught the true story through instant messaging, text messaging and phone calls, but Facebook gave us a new, shared way to communicate with each other.

Facebook was a way to enhance our communication rather than replace it. I felt sublimely connected to my friends and enjoyed reading their posts about what they were doing, seeing pictures of what they were eating and  in general experiencing their lives with them. The great part? We all commented back and forth on each other’s updates and photos. Our conversations spilled over from real life and into the digital realm. All in all, we grew closer as the vines of our lives intertwined and grew together, using Facebook as the connecting fertilizer.

Then something changed.

I can’t place the blame on my friends. The Facebook algorithms prioritize who’s in my Newsfeed and now it’s filled with memes, reshares and fluff. Instead of seeing real updates from my friends, I see content that doesn’t even remotely relate to me. Here’s a classic example: I simply thought one of my friends just didn’t use Facebook very often. One evening, over pizza and wine she’s telling me about a breakup and a poem she posted. I never saw the poem. When I visited her Timeline I realized she had been posting every day and it never once showed up in my Newsfeed. Instead I see a photo of someone I don’t know; gliding down my Newsfeed simply because one of my friends “liked” it and the original poster doesn’t have their privacy settings in place. And don’t get me started on privacy settings, that’s an entirely different collection of posts.

Facebook has become less personal.

Conversing with a friend, I start to share a story I’d earlier posted on Facebook. Since she didn’t comment or “like” the post I guessed she hadn’t yet seen it. Instead, she cuts me short: “Yeah, I saw your post on Facebook.” And that was it. No dialog, no joy at conversing with each other, just friends passively watching each other from a distance. I’m guilty, I’ve done it too. We’ve become quiet ships, passing by in the dark silence of the night.

I’ve made a decision.

I no longer want my friends to have this passive peepshow into my life and I don’t want to have the same view of theirs. I want us to talk. I want a personal email. I want to find a way to share photos in a way that encourages us to talk about them with each other. I want to chortle over sushi about the random events and cry together over wine when heartbreak attacks. In short, I want my friends back. The only way I can do that is to cut the cord.

Digital Footprint?


My 6 year old son, Little Bit, steps into a cardboard boat he’s just made with the help of my sister’s boyfriend (The Ginger). As The Ginger steps in, the boat begins to capsize and hilarity ensues. I’ve captured the cardboard boat races, complete with sinking boats, family cheers and heckling on my little waterproof sport camera in crystal clear definition.

The race concludes and I ask The Ginger for his permission to upload the video to YouTube. After a brief moment’s consideration he replies, “Sure, as long as you don’t use my name. I’ve managed to keep my digital footprint pretty invisible so far and I’d like to keep it that way.” Not a problem, I have no issue keeping his name private!

Imagine my thrill of anticipation as I eagerly upload the video….perhaps this could be my very first viral clip!

As any seasoned poster knows to do, I took a moment to review the video again and make sure I’m comfortable with the public content share. Then it dawns on me, we’re repeatedly calling out both The Ginger’s and Little Bit’s names. Am I labeling them on the video? No. Last names? No. But their names are there, nonetheless.

The Ginger’s privacy aside, I’m faced with a connundrum I’m sure many parents face. I have a strong desire to publicly share the video, partially out of pride for my amazing child and partially for the ease of spreading the video to my friends and family. Too tired at the moment to edit out the use of their names, I set the video private and give myself a day or two to ponder the rammifications of posting it, both with and without the use of their names.

I’m accustomed to sharing pictures, videos and events of my son’s lives through my private and trusted core list of friends I have on Facebook. Outside of Facebook though, all videos of my children are set to private and any pictures I’ve posted of my kids are referred to only as “Big Bit” and “Little Bit”. Far beyond the issues I’ve already considered of my own personal privacy and my ability to teach my boys how to filter themselves online, I now have to think about their individual privacy preferences.

My boys may very well grow up to be as comfortable being public as I am. Or, they may grow up to be intensely private . Perhaps they’d like to have a high security clearance job someday or maybe they’d just like to keep future stalker girlfriends from discovering every little moment of their childhood. Either way, they’re too young at the moment to fully understand this decision. As their Mama, I have to take that extra step to provide them with the chance to  make that choice for themselves.

So, my decision at the moment is to keep it private until such time that I can edit out their names. Busy as I am, I may or may not get to it. I’ll continue to keep videos, names and most pictures behind a privacy wall, carefully selecting which content I’m comfortable being available for public consumption.

My blogger parent friends, what is your take? Where do you draw the privacy lines for your children?

In the mean time, here’s a pic of Little Bit in his boat:

Connecting


Deep down, I think all any of us really want is to connect to someone around us.  Albeit to varying degrees, we all want to have a sense of belonging, a sense of being understood, a sense of being cared for and a sense of being listened to. In return, we want to reciprocate and mirror these feelings to at least one other human being out there.

Recently I’ve been deeply touched by an outpouring of positivity on a newer project of mine. I’ve been organizing a group of people who want to come together and discuss how technology affects the modern family; both good and bad. What’s amazed, flattered and moved me isn’t just how many people were interested in the project. What has stood out the most is how many have thanked me for my efforts.

It is in that moment that I’ve realized how much this simple connection means to us. I know that many parents, children, teachers, relatives and mentors struggle with similar questions about how to integrate and prepare for this world that insists on evolving at light speed. There’s no right answer, but the discussion seems to be an important one for an increasing number of families.

With a simple idea, we reached around the planet and connected so many separate people questing for the same answers. Our problems, families and issues are all different but at the root of it all, we’re all intrinsically the same. No matter what type of tech question or challenge came up, I keep hearing the same solution: build a good foundation and be open to communication.

It’s such a basic human need. To understand and be understood, to love and be loved, to listen and be listened to…

…and sometimes it’s the internet that fulfills that need.

Through this electronic connection, I find so many communities and they all fill different roles for me. Facebook connects me to my close friends and family, Reddit fulfills my inner geek and need for debate. With Skype I maintain friendships face-to-face, even when they move away. And Google Plus gives me the chance to discover new people, both in text and through face-to-face communication.

These interwoven webs of people are driven by common ideas, regardless of location. The world begins to shrink.

The Luxury of Being Anti-Social


I don’t have that luxury.

Was my reply to Mom’s announcement she was considering closing her Facebook account. “Of course you do!” was her response.

On the surface, she’s not entirely wrong. I can absolutely close my account. It has not replaced my interactions with my friends and family, although sharing family photos would require some rejiggering on my part. But that wasn’t really what I was referencing.

At the time, my cousin’s teenage daughter was living with my parents. My mom really only used her Facebook account to monitor her activity, but because she wasn’t a regular user my mom did not have the tools to fully understand what my cousin’s daughter was doing. Over time, the Facebook activity became such a bone of contention between the two that my mom eventually banned her from Facebook.

As you may have guessed, this strategy wasn’t exactly successful.

I adore my mom. She’s incredible and I often call her Super Grammy. Although there is an alarming and growing trend of grandparents rearing children, to take on your niece’s teenage daughter is matter for sainthood. On top of that, she’s there 100% for me with my children as well. Vomiting kid? No problem, get your hiney to work and I’ll mop up. You’re sick? Let me bring you some soup. Need a night out? Send the kids over, I can handle it.

On top of that, my mom is incredibly intelligent and tech savvy. She was the one to teach me DOS and introduce me to computers. She’s still the only one at her house that can setup and program their entertainment centers. She was the first to adopt ebooks in our family and the first among us to use online banking and shopping.

So let me make this exceptionally clear. Her problem with Facebook isn’t lack of smarts, caring or knowledge – it is lack of use.

First, without regular usage, Super Grammy was unaware that you could disable posts, pictures and your wall from people you still had friended. She didn’t know that she wasn’t seeing a complete picture and she didn’t know how to limit or control it.

Second, it’s impossible to model good social networking behavior if you don’t use the services. Until you’ve made a few online blunders yourself, it’s difficult to anticipate the specific problems, bullying and arguments that can arise from these platforms.

With the increase in frictionless sharing and interconnectivity it’s imperative that I remain fluent in the digital biosphere.  I’ve made a few of my own blunders and I’m learning how to mentor and model best social networking practices.

Frictionless sharing is the single most irritating part of Facebook and what almost had me quit. As the Maid of Honor in one of my best friend’s weddings, I was using Pinterest to explore all facets of wedding planning. Although I’d disabled the app from posting to my Timeline it managed to sneak back. Multiple inquiries about my upcoming nuptials had me steaming.

A small mishap like that one could really translate into major problems for the novice user. Unfortunately, this technology is changing at a pace that even the most seasoned social networker has trouble staying afloat. I will simply be an ineffective instructor for my children if I don’t keep my account, actively use it and seek out the newest changes each and every time.

My children are still young and they haven’t yet begun with Facebook  but I certainly see it glinting at me over the horizon.

What are your thoughts? How do you manage your children’s online social networking? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

No! You Don’t Get to See My Bathrobe


You think your private social media posts are relatively safe and private, right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

I’m not remarking on privacy policies on Facebook or Google. I’m also not remarking on the random hacking of your account. I’m not remarking on the blasted discussion of the privacy of your information (statistics) collected by various websites. Instead, I’m talking about the erosion of our own sense of privacy, the loss of the value of the privacy of your inner thoughts and conversations.

Let me set the stage for you:

You’ve been unemployed for several months and while applying to the local county position the application form requests your user name and password for your Facebook, MySpace, Google Plus or other social media account. Wanting to move forward in the interview process you dutifully complete the information.

While employers are forbidden from asking (and discriminating against you) for age, race, religion, sexual orientation, marriage status and kids access to these social network can provide them with all of those answers without ever uttering a word. Worse yet, they have access to every picture, every random thought and every inside joke posted behind the wall of your public persona. And now, now they get to make a hiring decision about you.

Here’s another picture for you:

You’re a student who’s just landed a full scholarship based on basketball. To remain on the basketball team you have to allow one of the coaches full access to your Facebook account so they can monitor your behavior. If you don’t comply, you don’t get to play. Not playing means you don’t get the scholarship and therefore, an education.

While discussing this troubling trend, I’ve seen many replies along these lines:

  • Tell them you don’t have a Facebook account
  • Make a second account for them
  • This is why we need to be able to have false names
  • Use Facebook Exfoliate
  • I deleted my Facebook account because I realized how unsafe it was becoming

This is my very contention.

We should not have to do any of these steps to protect communication done within an expectation of private conversation.

I have a public persona and I frequently make public posts. These are posts designed to be read by strangers and friends alike. To be honest, even in my more private posts I do not post content that would ever be embarrassing or a problem for me if seen by an employer, relative or child. As an individual I use different social networks for different purposes. On Facebook I share photos of my children and small daily moments I know matter to my closest friends and relatives. On Google Plus I tend to share more randomized fragments of information or whims based on the things I find on the internet. It could be recipe or simply a  clock I find intriguing. On both of these platforms I do not post about work other than in a very general sense (i.e. I was so busy today!). I don’t list my employer and even facts like my relationship status are hidden from general public view. LinkedIn is reserved for professional contacts and work related posts.

I’m not really a very private person; in fact I’ll answer almost any question you put to me when asked on a personal level. But among my trusted friends and family I might share more personal information than on a random public post. This information is shared with an expectation of privacy because it is not shared on a public level.

It frustrates and astonishes me that we are now in a place, here in the United States, where people are willingly giving up their privacy in order to secure a job or a scholarship or a place on a sports team. Let me make this clear: I do not fault the individuals acquiescing to the request; I fault the institutions pressuring this acquiescence. Even worse, I fear for the upcoming generation that hasn’t learned the value of their own private thoughts and conversations.

In the privacy of my own home I will walk from shower to laundry room stark naked as I go to retrieve a shirt or dress to wear for the day. This is perfectly acceptable behavior within in the walls of my own home and I certainly wouldn’t go check the mail lacking covering. I might check the mail in a bathrobe; attire again acceptable within the confines of my neighborhood but definitely not anything I’d don for a day at the office. We have these same expectations on our social media sites. I’d take deep, personal offense and complete outrage at a prospective employer expecting to see me in my bathrobe before deciding if they’d hire me. It doesn’t matter what I look like in the bathrobe, it’s private. Period. Better yet, having someone ask to go back and review my naked moment in the privacy of my own home?

We should all be outraged at these types of requests and unafraid to stand up for our inner monologues. They’re ours, they’re uttered within a trusted circle and they should remain there.

Here’s the article that sparked my outrage: http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/06/10585353-govt-agencies-colleges-demand-applicants-facebook-passwords

Here’s the conversation that ensued today: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112011605270017123101/posts/e3BeJTbcqp3

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