I’m not on Facebook or MySpace or any other social site

November 27th, 2007

About once every two weeks I get an email from Facebook telling me someone wants me to be their friend and create an account. I’m told that this is because when you first set up a Facebook account, it asks for email addresses of your friends and checks to see if they have an account.

So far I’ve ignored every request, as well as peer pressure from other friends to get a page up.

To be honest, originally I didn’t want an account on any social site because I was afraid it’d show how pitifully few friends I really have (I have a problem with keeping up with others and general self-centeredness). But the longer I held out the more I realized that these sites had disadvantages that I didn’t like. One of my heroes, Cory Doctorow, just wrote an article articulating what I’ve been feeling about these sites. The crux of his argument is that these sites don’t help you to segment what you tell your friends – either you show them everything or show everyone nothing. In addition, you may ‘friend’ people that are really ‘acquaintances’ rather than ‘friends’ – those words seem to be interchangeable nowadays but there’s a whole spectrum of how we relate to others – from the coworker who occasionally goes out for drinks to the person you know from college who knows all the right things to irritate you and can generally pick out thoughtful gifts for you…all the way to the guy who grew up down the street from you who listens to the same music and likes the same movies and can guess how you would react to certain situations. This range of relationships isn’t really supported by most, if not all, of the social sites.

And don’t get me started on MySpace. How people came to use that to connect with friends is beyond my comprehension. MySpace makes it too easy to connect to others, too easy to become friends, too easy to show your bad taste to everyone.

So, if you want to be my friend, email me and let’s strike up a conversation. But don’t make Facebook try to get me to join.

Update: Technically, I’m actually on exactly one social site: Last.fm. But that’s because I’m always looking for new music…and I’m obsessed with the play counts of the music I listen to. Here’s my page.

Update 2: OK, things have changed. I’m on Facebook now – turns out Facebook is quite useful to track down old friends. And I have a Twitter account as well – which is great for finding new and interesting people.



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