31 May 2010

i think i understand now


Warning: contains the word Facebook.

One of the biggest banes of a commuter in Toronto are "jumpers." Those are people who commit suicide by leaping from subway platforms, or off bridges, or just about any other way they can get in the way of a lot of people who just wanted to go to work and get their job done. It's a particularly selfish, dramatic way to off oneself, and it keeps happening because Toronto is sufficiently crowded that it's also very effective. There's been a few cases of successful (physical) intervention, and several more cases where the jumper wasn't successful. Yes, there are worse things than suicide — there's the agony and humiliation of being pulled off train rails while the innocent people whose day you were about to ruin watch you carried away with your self-inflicted injuries.

Public physical suicide is one thing, but the virtual kind can be overly dramatic too. As I posted last, I'm all for people deleting their Facebook accounts en masse to protest the way that the company has mucked with its users. I've said it before but I'll say it again: just because you sign up for a free service doesn't mean you signed up to have your trust abused. That's why this morning I said, "good-bye, cruel social network", and my Facebook "identity" ceased to be.

I don't know if that means that what's left of my account will wind up on the consecrated server or the unconsecrated server, but I do know that the "suicide" is a massive relief. Ironically, once I made my decision, I wound up spending more time on Facebook these last few days than I had over the last six months. And you know? There's a lot that still irritates the hell out of me.

I will not miss having to explain to my friends who are allowed, even encouraged, to use Facebook at work that I cannot reply to them during workdays via Facebook, because it is banned at the office and my company is very strict about personal internet use.

I will not miss finding notification e-mails in my inbox about messages from people I don't know contacting me via Facebook. They leave me scrambling through my privacy settings, wondering how on earth I wound up on their contact list when I have all my settings cranked to the max as "friends only," or even "no-one." I just got another one today. Turns out in this particular case a real-life friend of mine invited me to an event via Facebook, although she's not the host. The host, in turn, sent out a mass message to all invitees, whether they had RSVPed or not (I hadn't).

I will not miss people asking to be my "friend" when I have never met them in person.

I will not miss people claiming they know my Facebook page, yet they haven't noticed that it's been empty of all the content I could delete for months.

On the other hand, I am very much looking forward to saying, "Facebook? You're still on that?"

Jumpers typically have a poor idea of what they're leaving behind. They can never have any idea of what they're really going towards.

In the virtual world, things are different. My Facebook identity has been brain dead and on life support for over two years, even if no-one else noticed much. Today I pulled the plug.

I know exactly what comes next, because I've been living it for over two years now. And it's great.

PS: Check out the screen shot (also at the top of this post). Apparently no account gets a quick and painless death on Facebook if the user initiates it. At least by leaving at the end of the month it'll be easy to count the days and then check if it's really gone. I am going to wait more than 14 days, though, just in case the way their servers count it is different from how time passes in real life.

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