I’m coming back to Facebook

Last year, I quit Facebook. No – not deactivated. A full on account deletion.

I quit it because I wasn’t using it, I didn’t like it, and I was fed up of a lot of aspects of it. I still don’t really see the point of it now, don’t have enough information to share to fill a constantly-expanding photo album, and I almost certainly won’t use it very much this time around either.

I didn’t like their embedded video system, it’s a pain to find people on it, the general search system is shite, it’s slow, it’s cumbersome, and it’s got loads of adverts on it. I didn’t like the way people copied me in on conversations I couldn’t care less about, then watched as every individual replied back to everyone. It was like a return to the shit old ‘reply all’ days of email, before people learnt how to use it properly.

As far as I’m concerned, Facebook’s basically a big email list with pictures of cats/babies, and a lot of people wasting a lot of time. Facebook campaigns are generally as pointless as most online e-petitions (the govt ones make a difference but others – meh – what’s the point?), and until it’s used for changes more radical than getting shit songs to no.1 at Christmas to stop other shit songs from getting to no.1, then I’ll keep that viewpoint.

I’ll never understand the appeal, I don’t think.

(Last year I also joined Google+. It’s fair to say I’m not using that either. But then nor is anybody else from the looks of it.)

Twitter

I like Twitter a lot. I started in 2008, almost immediately stopped. Then came back. Just when it gets boring, it seems to have a resurgence again. I’ve changed usernames multiple times, and varied my opinion of it a lot, but it’s still a useful thing to me.

The information limit suits my generally-impatient nature, you can leave it open in the corner of the screen without getting in the way using something like Echofon or 1-column Tweetdeck, and people then link to things that anyone can view (regardless of whether they’ve got a Twitter account or not). Last night I asked on Twitter for a recommendation for where to get an Indian takeaway on Gloucester Road in Bristol (there are lots of places), and within 10 minutes, had a conversation with two people about that, including why they like it, takeaway vs eat-in, what the owners are like, etc.

While it’s a constant stream that I can no longer watch all the time, it almost doesn’t matter. When something big happens in your area, it’s retweeted so many times you don’t miss it. And the default-open nature of it, makes it easier to find new people to talk to. I never talked to anyone new via Facebook I don’t think, that I didn’t already know from ‘real life’, yet I’m introduced to new people to talk to all the time on Twitter.

Yet, despite the open-nature of Twitter, people don’t upload pictures of themselves naked then complain when their employers see. I’m not sure why that is, but people don’t generally seem to behave like complete morons on Twitter.

Because Facebook are busy selling my information to advertisers, I’m reluctant to tell it anything. And nothing personal. Twitter doesn’t ask what school I went to, or what my favourite films are. From an advertising point of view, I think Twitter represents real life better. I might tweet I’ve just seen a new film and I’ve enjoyed it. But would I bother to log into Facebook, and update my favourite films? Probably not. I semi-regularly tweet I’m enjoying listening to a song, but I’m not going to join a group of fans to debate them. Maybe it’s my fickle and indecisive nature, but I don’t like to stick to anything that long. So consequently, they’ll always be out of date. I wasn’t necessarily interested in the same things 5 years ago (which is how long some of the more fiddly sites I’m registered with, go, without me bothering to update them).

So this time around, I’ll be locking it down. Nobody is going to tag me in a photo (that I didn’t know existed) looking like absolute shit, because apparently you can stop people doing that. I’m not allowing anyone to write pointless crap on my walls (if that functionality still exists), I’m not installing any apps, and I’m not telling it what films I like. Or maybe I will, but I’ll give it stupid useless information. I’ll be the first person from Bristol, UK to support some obscure Hawaiian basketball team. Or my favourite comedian of all time will be serial killer Fred West.

Someone told me ages ago that you can get it to email you messages, and reply back to them via email instead of logging in. I’ll be utilising that functionality if it still exists.

I’ll also not be befriending people just because I went to school with them. I had a very small handful of friends at school, and I haven’t spoken to any of them since school really. Mostly because both them and me were too lazy to continue the friendship. And I’m fine with that. I’ve made new (and better) friends since.

I’m not playing Farmville, and I’ll be blocking anyone who persists in sending me constant notifications about Mafia Wars. It will know nothing of my career history, relationship status, or what music I’m listening to at the moment. My information will be almost totally useless to Facebook.

So why the hell am I coming back?

Last week, I took part in a training course. Near the end, someone announced they were setting up a Facebook group, and would add everyone. I was told several times during the course about the importance of networking, and in not being on Facebook (the only one, in a group of 16, who wasn’t), I’m excluding myself from a potential group right there. Everyone swapped email addresses and mobile numbers, but they won’t bother to contact me via those methods I don’t think. Not because they’re nasty, but because I’m the awkward one making them do something different.

And it’s not just this group. When people list on a job description that they want someone with experience of using social networks (which seems to be happening much more regularly these days), they mean Facebook first, Twitter second. I don’t use Facebook much (what with not having an account and all) and it’s evidently important, so I need to know how to use it, even if I can’t stand the bloody thing. It’s Microsoft Access. It’s not as pretty as almost any other database systems, isn’t very efficient, and doesn’t plug in to other things without a lot of effort, but you’ve got to use it sometimes just because other people want to.

Plus it’s only me, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry (they’re both on Twitter, you know), and about 6 people in the third world who aren’t currently on there. And while millions of people can be wrong, it’d still be handy for me to know/understand use of.