The problem is that Facebook doesn't do anything better than any other app, and yet it's way more time-consuming.
Let's see--what have I used Facebook for recently?
- Looking at photos of lots of people smiling, most of whom I don't know. I have a Flickr account that's way more flexible than the Facebook photo app.
- Mail. I have an email address. Gmail works great. Also, even our super-retentive network filter at work lets us check email.
- Finding out what friends are doing. Actual human contact is kind of cool, as are phones. Email's good enough. Twitter? Not so much.
- Getting invited to events. If someone really wants me to go, they'll call, text, or email. Just no more evites, please, okay?
- Promoting shows. We've been using Facebook to invite people to Terryl Lee Band shows, but we've got a mailing list that's better.
What else do I do online? I follow a couple dozen blogs via RSS, use Google Docs for my word processing, and occasionally stream some audio.
The worst part about this is that I feel like I'm just doing the electronic equivalent of telling you kids to get the hell off my lawn. I'm not anti-Facebook the way some of my colleagues are. I definitely get it. I get Facebook so much, in fact, that I've let myself waste way more time on it than I care to admit publically.
And that's really why I'm looking to bail out. I want to get some time back. With Facebook, I found myself logging in to check one or two things--who's coming to a show, for example, or whether I was tagged in the photos from last weekend's festivities--and then 30, 45, 60 minutes would go by as I checked people's status updates, photos, news, etc. And I think I'd like that time back. Checking email and reading stuff via RSS, while time-consuming, is much more manageable, with much less of a sense of urgency and transience.
I'm reclaiming my time in the only way I know how--pulling myself out of what for me has become a huge timesuck. I want to use my after-work Facebook time for getting stuff done, so that I can then spend more evening and weekend time with the people I love. I might even start reading more, or watching the movies that Netflix sends me, or taking more pictures, or spending more time outside. None of these are bad things, and Facebook isn't either. It's just not for me anymore.
I'm shrinking my world, in a good way. And I'm still not going the Luddite route--I'm actually planning on spending the weekend upgrading my laptop so I can do more with it--and I still believe in social networking. It's just that I need more control over how much information I feel like I need to deal with in any given day. My soul needs to select its own society, as Emily Dickinson might say.
Filling the time will be easy. Spring is here.