It's over, Facebook. It's really over.
Last week's overvalued IPO, and the fact that Zuck owns more than a quarter of the world's largest social network and refuses to share the cash has put many users over the edge. But months before the IPO rumor even surfaced, there were plenty of folks who had already left Facebook for Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. They are happy to tell you why they left, and they encourage you to do the same. They have joined together on other social networks - Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ - to discuss why they left Facebook, or why they're thinking about leaving Facebook. On their website, http://www.im-not-on-facebook.com/, they sell mugs and t-shirts (women's available in four colors! Crew neck available in five colors and white!) for as little as $10.99 a piece. These rebels have banded together in a Facebook-centric culture focused on oversharing the mundane details of life.
I'm Not on Facebook's Twitter stream re-tweets conversations, other tweets and articles about people who have quit Facebook or who are considering the downsides of staying on Facebook. You have probably heard of those people - perhaps you're even one of them. You talk about getting off Facebook all of the time. You love Facebook in those moments it works for you, and hate it when you "accidentally" waste an entire morning reading status updates about the Super Bowl. Or maybe you've done a "stopping Facebook" experiment and realized it's just not for you. Internet users who are re-tweeted on @notonfacebook's Twitter are seriously serious about not being on Facebook. "I sold my iPhone, I quit Facebook.. I will probably sell my soul soon. Takers? lolz," tweets @gwapz.
The site sounds pretty serious in its mission, but it actually started as a joke back in October 2010.
"The site was a birthday gift for my wife because she could not stand Facebook," says graphic designer Tim Woods, who is based in northern Virginia. "She kibitzed with my mother about it, who also hates Facebook. And I thought - there's a t-shirt in this." They decided to go for it after they noticed a couple arguing on Facebook. Initially, Woods sent out t-shirts from Cafe Press to family and friends. They quickly discovered that the anti-Facebook sentiment was part of a global phenomenon.
"We sell products in Poland, Italy, all over Europe, Canada, U.S., Mexico. There's also a big anti-Facebook sentiment in Syria and the Islamic community," Woods says. "We're surprised that even though we have a small customer base, we're pretty diverse."
Despite the strong sentiment, Woods doesn't really want to beat up on Facebook. That's not the goal. Instead, the statements (like the headline of this story), are meant to stir up conversation with others. Think of it as an ice breaker.
One story that @notonfacebook recently retweeted isn't as light-hearted about the whole anti-Facebook sentiment, though."How I Deleted My Facebook Account and Walked Away from 555 Friends by blogger Cindy La Ferle is honest, important and worth a read if you give a crap about real-world friendships.
"Either way, I've always believed that real friendship is reciprocal, not promotional," writes La Ferle. "And certainly more than virtual. Real friends do more than punch the 'like' key on your status updates. Real friends call you directly on the phone, send cards, help you move furniture, meet you for breakfast, babysit your cats, or otherwise make three-dimensional efforts to be there for you."
But the real reason she quit Facebook isn't because she didn't at some level enjoy the "promotional" nature of Facebook friendships. The problems ran deeper than that.
"Of course, you need lots of extra time for real friendship like that," she writes. "My 'networking' on Facebook was devouring some of that time, and I was starting to feel guilty about it...in short, Facebook was becoming a tool to promote myself, with a few family photos thrown in for good measure...I've always tried to avoid one-sided relationships, but good lord, there I was, conducting one of my own."
Not long ago, I made a new friend on Facebook. A few weeks later, we ended up at dinner with a group of other people. I was looking forward to chatting with him in real life - he was so interesting on Facebook, so I figured we'd have lots to talk about offline. But that's not really what happened. We talked tech stuff and got our geek on. Then my Facebook friend mentioned something about the self-referential nature of Facebook. The conversation stopped. Then he grabbed his iPhone and stepped outside for a cigarette.
I turned to a woman sitting next to me, who I am not Facebook friends with, and proceeded to chat with her for at least an hour. After dinner she gave me a ride to my bike, which I had left down the street. I didn't think we'd have so much in common. And I did not go home and friend her on Facebook later. In fact, I am happy not reading her status updates.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.