Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Last week I left Facebook.
It didn't seem all that big a deal to me-- the site was becoming more work than I felt it was worth. What surprised me was the reaction from real-life friends and acquaintances. Shock and denial were the order of the day:
'But how will you keep up with friends and family abroad?' 'How will you tell people what's going on with you?' 'You need it to let people know you're okay in an earthquake!' 'But now you won't know about events and stuff!'
The reactions were sudden, strong. I was amazed. Every one of the points above was raised more than once, by different people. Oddly, the wording was often quite similar. (Also odd, the cautions about losing touch with far-off people came from those friends I see most often!) It got me thinking...
I'm an intensely private person. I like to let my art and writing speak for me. The idea of sharing my business with the world at large holds no appeal. I went on Facebook to sell my work. To preserve at least a few scraps of privacy, my presence on the site was all persona, like the face I show at a cocktail party. And like spending too much time at a cocktail party, it made me weary.
At the point where I felt Facebook was neither a) fun, or b) effective, pulling the plug seemed only natural.
Friends and family have my email. If I want the world to know what's up with me, I've got a (sadly neglected) website, a blog, a twitter account. I can use any and all of these to let y'all know I survived an earthquake. Or you can simply remember that I happen to be Unbreakable... ;-)
And hell, events, you can text. Or kick it old school and, you know, just tell me.
Sure, Facebook puts all that in one place, but I'm not terribly fond of that place. The fault may be my own, but I'd say it's a fault common to all writers and artists on Facebook:
If you're trying to attract new customers (and I don't care if you call it 'marketing', 'leveraging', 'platform', whatever. We're talking about more customers), you NEED to have a profile full of strangers. After all, your mom's already going to buy your book-- it's new eyeballs you need.
This means 'friend-whoring' like crazy, then hoping your posts are entertaining enough to keep some of those new eyes coming back. Whether you go for comedy, politics, sex, samples, whatever, your goal is to entertain so you can slip those bits of self-promotion in there and, you know, sell! :)
My tattoo shop's Facebook page took over this function for my art. My art profile atrophied. My writing profile, I ended up with 500 friends, mostly other writers trying to sell to me. I freely admit, I never got the hang of marketing my writing on Facebook. ( A thought, writers: if your profile isn't full of strangers, ahem, new readers, it's social, not professional.)
At any rate, my profiles weren't selling for me, and without attracting new customers, I had very little use for sharing my life. It's got me feeling a little Travis McGee...
I'm not sure I fit into this Brave New, Thoroughly Public, World. I see no point in sharing day to day trivia and minutiae. When I don't feel like accepting calls (for instance, reading, writing or relaxing) I turn off my damn phone. If there's something personal I want you to know, I will tell you.
Seems simple to me. I do realize I've given up the pleasure of seeing photos of myself drunk and vomiting out the back of a bus, but hey, there were bound to be tradeoffs, right? ;)
Update: Angie pointed me to this link in the comments. Jason Scott is smart, eloquent and informed. His articulate hatred for Facebook leaves me thinking that little itch between my shoulderblades really was a target on my back...