It’s time to lose Facebook

Photo: AP
I’m over Facebook. Maybe I’m growing out of it, maybe my standards for ways of wasting time are becoming more discerning, or maybe Kevin Rudd just ruined it for everyone, but I’m officially done with clicking onto the world’s trendiest social networking website every hour I’m at my desk. As of today, I’m trying to go cold turkey. So I’m not going to look at it more than once a day, and if I somehow muster a hitherto unforeseen amount of willpower, I may even get it down to once a week.

At first, it was a welcome novelty to catch up with obscure friends from yesteryear. I work by myself quite a lot, so it was almost like having, you know, actual friends there. I found old schoolfriends, uni friends, girls I once had crushes on and people I don’t even necessarily like all that much – they’re all to be found in the various dark corners of my friend list. Sure, things didn’t exactly extend to meaningful conversation – there’s only so much quality catching up that can be achieved via a wall post saying “Hey how are you?” – but it was still nice to feel back in touch.

At first it was enthralling to see how everyone had changed, like a school reunion that passed at an extremely slow pace. I enjoyed gawking fascinatedly at photos of people I hadn’t seen since the age of 11. Some were married, some divorced. Some had come out, some had babies. I’ve even been in touch with one or two of the few students from my old primary school in London who didn’t beat me up.

But the initial flood of friend requests has now stemmed to a trickle, and I’m lucky these days if I get one new friend a fortnight. (Just to clarify in the wake of the Valentine’s blog debacle, this isn’t an attempt to solicit a flood of new friend requests – like most people, I only add people I actually know in person. Well, OK, unless their messages are hi-la-rious.) But I’m now at the point at which I can pretty confidently say that more or less everyone I’ve ever known is in my friend list. So there’s nowhere else to go from here but down.

At the same time as the friend requests have dried up, the requests from those irritating applications have swelled into a tsunami. (Compare People, and Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, I’m looking at you.) I figured out early on that you can block all requests from those stupid zombies, vampires, pirates and ninjas, which are so annoying that I’ve seriously considered going and biting a few people to see if they actually do turn into members of the undead, but there are thousands of newer offenders.

Most of the spam backfires and makes me vow never to install it, like when the Sparx application attempted to entice me to sign up by telling me that if I installed it, I could find out the identities of the 0 out of 19 of my friends who found me attractive. Thanks, but uh, no thanks.

The only worthwhile application is Scrabulous, and that’s apparently going to be shut down because of the whole violating intellectual property thing. But even that was spoiled because people started cheating – there are sites where you can type in what letters you have, and it will supply the highest scoring word. So my interest in online Scrabble has almost XREIPED – which is worth 100 points at the start of the game, by the way. Oh, and Bingo.
Which leaves me with the built-in features. And without wanting to completely diss the Facebook friends I have, I’ve also noticed that on the whole there’s an inverse proportion between the frequency with which people update their status, and how interesting their lives actually seem to be. And yes, I do update my status too often, and yes, I realise the equation holds true for me.

Sorry, just a sec, I need to update my status – Dominic Knight is henceforth to be regarded as over Facebook. There, that’s told ’em.

There are a few things for which I will continue using the site. It’s brilliant for organising social events, sharing photos and (I am reliably informed, though rubbish at it personally) flirting. Although even flirting is no longer that easy, because everyone’s stopped saying in their status whether they’re single, unhelpfully. I think that’s because those little broken heart graphics are too embarrassing – it really is tragic in every sense when people announce their break-ups online. And hell, we’ve even stopped being amused by the Australian meaning of the word “poke”. So folks, the show really is over.

I hope the site survives in some form, because it is a great way around the infuriating problem of everyone’s email addresses constantly changing. But, really, the site just isn’t fun any more. Which leaves me desperate for a new way of filling the enormous amounts of time when I’m supposed to be working. I absolutely despise Facebook’s business-oriented competitor, LinkedIn.

So, um, is MySpace somehow retro-cool yet?

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