Re: On Facebook

A few weeks ago I added a new feature to my blog: “external link posts”. This feature matches sites like Daring Fireball (a tech blogger who might predate the word “blog”) and I intend to use it a little like micro.blog, mostly for linking to things I do that live on other sites. You can see an example of this with “Dreams of Strife and Skaia”, though really the intention is that you’d never need to click into a post like this. Maybe the November index shows it better.

Of course, I could write a full post for everything I put on other sites (YouTube, Soundcloud, etc), and sometimes I do. Up until now that’s been sort of a compromise between “I don’t have much to say about this, so I shouldn’t bother making a post”, and “not everyone follows me on Facebook and I want them to know what I’m up to”. Adding “external link posts” is supposed to help tip the scales towards the latter.

So, I’m planning to have this site include everything I put online, or at least everything lasting. Not all of it will necessarily show up on the “front page”, as it were, but I want it to all be here, so that there’s an index of all my completed stuff that’s not tied to Facebook, or Twitter, or individually subscribing to my YouTube and Soundcloud and Flickr and fanfiction separately. (And if you want to be updated for everything, including the non-front-page content, I added a new newsfeed that you can subscribe to in your RSS/Atom reader.)


But I titled this “Re: On Facebook”. Facebook has become a horrible company—or maybe they were always a horrible company—and yet I’m not deleting my account. Network effect “lock-in” is real: if I’m off Facebook, I lose both messaging and casual event invites from the friends I’m only connected with there.1 So I’m still there. However, Facebook gets money from ads, and the ads only go on the newsfeed page. Therefore, for the past several weeks I’ve been not going to the home page at all, and instead just answering messages and responding to events. (Or not answering messages, because Thanksgiving.)

The next step to that is to not post my content either, to not give Facebook content that they can display ads next to. That’s the other part of this external link post thing: stuff I would have posted to Facebook should go here, now, always. I know not that many people read this blog directly, or use feed reader apps or sites to follow it, and so I’ll soon be out-of-sight-out-of-mind. But that’s the tradeoff I’m making.

I don’t entirely like this answer because I’m losing the “good” part of Facebook too, of seeing what my friends are up to. But a lot of people already stopped using Facebook for that, switching to Instagram and/or Twitter, and so I feel like I’m losing less than I might have been. In practice I’ll still catch myself going to the home page sometimes, and once in a while’s probably okay. It’s also not a plan that works if everyone does it, because Facebook will just start putting ads elsewhere (and continue to sell the information about us that they already have).

This also isn’t a grand purge of social media because I am on Twitter, albeit in a slightly more professional persona. I’ve taken month-long Twitter breaks before and probably will again, because it’s both a more public environment and a more “shouty firehose” experience. But that’s also been motivation for this, because I have a bunch of friends who I’m only connected with on Twitter and not Facebook. They don’t know about this blog and I wish they did.

(This blog isn’t a secret per se, but unlike the one at belkadan.com I don’t attempt to keep it reasonably professional or general-interest, and therefore I’ve avoided linking to it “in public”. I like keeping the personas a bit separate for now.)

So, there we go. After over a decade, I’m paring down my Facebook use to the network effect bits I need. And this site might be stepping it up as a result.

  1. I’d be inclined to move messaging elsewhere, but I’m not sure where. E-mail is good for what I call “asynchronous” communication, where they’ll get back to you eventually, and SMS is good for “urgent” communication where timeliness is important. But I’d like somewhere to do non-urgent, synchronous communication (chats), where I can turn off notifications but still see an unread count and still do group chats in real time.

    It’s not that these places don’t exist; it’s just that there are a whole bunch of them and none of them obviously replace Facebook. Especially, again, with Facebook’s network effects. ↩︎