Return to Menlo Park

Sigh... I've been wrong about Facebook 1.5 times so far. The first time, with the advent of Google+, I predicted that a social network that begins with circles would triumph over one that seeks to make everything you say or do available to all of humanity. I said Google+ would kill Facebook. Yes I did.

While Facebook continues to do everything it can to drive people away, and some reports hold that as the Olds gather the younger folks are moving on - I think it can safely be said that whatever kills Facebook, it will not be the astonishing success of G+ anytime soon.

The second time, a little over a year ago now, was when I left. Never to return. I resented the time sink it had become, and the interactions with strangers that had an intensity and anger they would never exhibit in person. I hope. If I got into frequent angry confrontations at my local pub, at some point I would stop going into that establishment.

I would engage with a friend on a topic, and find myself confronting suddenly the person's drunk uncle (how is druncle not a word?) accusing me of furthering a socialist plot to destroy America. And I spent far too much time engaging these trolls.

Seriously, druncle. This should be a word.

I left, with a flourish, around New Year's 2013. To be honest, I did not miss Facebook. At all. What I missed was a cousin's health challenge, which was announced and discussed only on Facebook. What I missed were grief-laden notes posted to a friend's page who died suddenly last Fall. I realized then I was missing important updates about people close to me - or perhaps more to the point, people who were not close enough for me to learn these updates any other way.

There is a circle (pardon me) of people about whom I care - but with whom I do not interact on a frequent enough basis to be on their notification list. With Facebook, people have apparently found that announcing updates to their lives on their page means a "notification" list is unnecessary.

If tragedy or bliss strikes your life, it is just easier to post a quick note to your Wall, and let the word spread. In leaving Facebook, at least for my network, I had departed the commons.

So I am back. But I have a much smaller friend list so far. And I am, primarily, lurking. I only have the iPad app, and it does not draw my time as it once did (writing this blog is the most I've thought about Facebook in over a year). I do not post updates nor food porn nor do I engage in political conversations as I did before. This is not where I live, it's where I go to learn about my family and some friends. I'll check in once or twice a day, for a few minutes. My profile remains sparse, I don't "like" corporations, and my profile picture is a photo of two of my three children. The other one hasn't noticed yet.

Exception - One conservative brother-in-law manages to get under my skin on occasion, and we poke at each other almost as sport. When a friend of his barged into one conversation with a familiar refrain, though, I just blocked the gentleman. I've learned that much.

I don't miss Facebook, and now I don't have to miss family news. I am planning to hit an age more closely associated with a speed limit this year, and I sense more of these updates will begin to appear across my network.

So Facebook - it was still mostly you. But it was also a lot me. Let's just be acquaintances.