I’m leaving Facebook and VK (aka VKontakte/ВКонтакте), and I’m going to enter the next year of my life (i.e. celebrate my birthday in three weeks) without them. Here, I said it, you can stop reading :D
I have been wavering and hesitating with this decision for a few weeks… The topic was opened for me during a chat after “Zwei Uhr Nachts” in Frankfurt, when a girl mentioned quitting FB because of their new policies. A couple of days later, I noticed that my close friend Nadja Petranovskaja said goodbye to FB (in German)… For me, that looked attractive, but it still seemed that I would lose something very valuable if I quit.
Nadja shared a link to an article which extensively reviewed and explained what the fuss is about (http://saintsal.com/facebook/). At first, I only briefly looked at it and it did not change the direction of my thoughts much. Yes, Facebook does bad things, but how could I stay connected with all of these people if not there?..
A week or two later, I found some time to read the article carefully until the very end. And I realized that I have lost all the fun playing the Facebook games by their rules… and I have actually never had any fun with it. And I also realized that there are still too many people in my “friends” lists whom I resist remove even while we haven’t communicated for years. Finally, I realized that all the seeming benefits that the “social” networks like Facebook & VK promised to give to me were lies. These “social” networks failed me, and failed me badly.
Probably, the shift over the tipping point was due to the following observation from the article: if you don’t assist Facebook in supporting & growing engagement of people with the platform, then you slowly disappear from your friends’ and followers’ feeds. Neither you see the posts of your friends which are considered to be non-benefecial for FB, nor they see yours. And as this is done automatically, no one cares how important the communication could be to you. In other words, if you are not helping the Facebook to grow their stats, then you are an unworthy piece of crap to them, and will be thrown out to the trash – without any notification.
After a short consideration, I also decided to quit VK on the same breath. I am not sure how they handle user data. But as the founder Pavel Durov was ousted off the board a few months ago, they will probably start applying more dirty practices as well… But really, my concern here is that if I am going to make a step in a better direction anyway, I might as well go the full way and cut as much anti-social stuff out of my life as I can.
I am quitting FB and VK, because I hate it that I have to send a request to add someone to my “friends list” and call a new contact a “friend” straight away… This totally distorts the meaning of what friends and friendship are. Does anybody here still remember the saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed”? Is there even a single person in the FB/VK friends list who is indeed a friend? Liking each other’s photos and tagging each other in status updates, maybe leaving a short comment once in a while – this is not a friendship. A person whom you have met just a few hours or days ago, no matter how good your time together has been, most likely is not going to risk their life savings (let alone their life) to help you out of a very challenging situation. “Friends” on Facebook will likely pity you and put a “like” on your post, and that’s where their support will usually stop. Because true frienship needs time. Because the authentic trust is built based on a consistent interaction and trustful, caring behavior, not on a one-time gig.
I am quitting FB and VK, because I hate it even more that those initially social things like “being friends”/“following”, and expressing your interest in something via “I like this!” have completely lost their social meaning over time. They have turned into a pervert currency system:
- “follow me and I promise to follow you back”,
- “join our network for exchanging likes”,
- “get more likes”,
- “get more followers”,
- “like us/vote for us to help us win” (from total strangers, regarding contests no one could care less about)…
Bla, bla, bla – this is one side of interaction, asking for something meaningless and offering nothing meaningful in return.
On the other side, many people seem to be pressing “like it” on everything they see without actually taking time to notice and appreciate the thought, the message, the picture that the postings contain. Without actually giving any attention to it. Without actually caring for the content.
And thus, overall, the typical mainstream business of such social media is a meaningless just-for-numbers activity where no one cares if there are any smiles, if there is any excitement or gratitude, if there are any real people who receive benefit from the content. And I don’t want to play these games anymore. I’ve had enough, more than enough.
I remember joining VK to be in touch with and receive updates from a local music band… Starting from September 2007, it became my first and most used social network (Well, I had tried LiveJournal a few times before, but that’s a different thing). On VK, I was keeping in touch with my friends, sharing photos and thoughts/ideas, and also discovering new people – sometimes randomly, but more often connecting with friends of friends. I have even found the love of my life that way (I mean, of my life up to a certain moment… which was many, many years after our relationship suddenly fell apart – in fact, I might have released that love only a few months before I’m writing this).
VK has been my primary social network way into the year 2013. But life is life, and two years after me leaving Russia the amount of my connections slowly came down to just a few people. At the same time, my involvement into CWA brought me numerous connections on other platforms. Finally, a very painful break-up with my girlfriend-at-a-distance at the time motivated me to stay away from VK for a few weeks… And I have never really come back. Well, eventually I started showing up there, sending and receiving messages, performed several clean-ups of the “friends” list to receive updates only from the people about whom I actually cared to hear, brought up Instagram photo sharing… but there was no new connections, no new conversations, and no excitement.
The story of my use of Facebook is just a half of VK time, not even four years from creating an account until today. I knew that VK was initially a Russian clone of Facebook… But I had no reason and no interest to use “the original” for a long long time. Then, in May of 2011, a friend showed something on FB to me, we talked a bit, and I decided to check it out. A few months later I arrived to an international university, and FB appeared to be most common, thus relatively convenient, fast and easy way to keep in touch with everyone. FB became the contacts book, and this had been the main purpose of it until now – until I have realized that it does not serve this purpose any well.
From the very first day, FB was giving an impression of a monster. Slow and overcomplicated. VK seemed to have done much more and much better to become a user-oriented (and fast) system over the years after the cloning out. Thus, after a few months of use, I got fed up with all the complexities, announced to my friend list that I am on VK, switched my VK profile to English and stopped showing up on FB. That marks a curious gap in my activity log: just two posts, three comments, and absolutely no likes given by me on FB in and around 2012.
I might be wrong, but it seems that the thing that returned me to FB was joining the World Domination Summit inofficial community in May 2013… and then slowly engaging with the Live Your Legend community on the platform as well (again, CWA for me started in March 2013, but we had most fun in our awesome members-only forums). And yes, I also created a public page when I launched my website in June 2013.
There were periods on and off, attempts to keep up-to-date with some people and total giving up… In January 2014, I even filled in my personal FB profile with quite a few books, several movies and some other stuff that I enjoyed… But it had no visible effect. It sparkled no conversations. It did not help me to make new friends (from the list, as most of the stuff was visible to the contacts only). And I was not following any updates from the stuff anyway. Around that time, my page had 20+ something likes by my friends, but was receiving just a few likes and almost no discussion. Overall… FB was not working for me, and I had no excitement about making it work… Because even in this non-productive environment it was already eating incredibly lot of my time…
A frequently asked question that I receive on the topic: where am I going instead?
Well, for the communication I will switch mostly to email and – surprise! – in-person connections.
For the social media stuff, I will give a bit more attention to Twitter (people are nice there!) and Instagram (I do enjoy my instant photos!) – both have @LikzLife handle if you are interested to check me out.
Otherwise, I will be building my own solutions to share my art and work. Current plans include developing LikFenix.com as my central portfolio and information page, LikzSoftware.com for the software-specific services, and LikFenix.com/Photography for presenting my photography.
What are your thoughts on social media? To which camp do you belong, to the “envious that you are making it” one or to “stupid, you are going to miss out so badly”? What is your preferred platform and means of online communication? Leave your voice in the comments!
Enjoy YOUR REAL life! ;)