Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t care that you just “played an amazing game of TextTwist” or that you “took the ‘IQ test’ quiz and the result is: Very Good!” I am not the least bit interested to know what hippy name you have, or that you “took the ‘What is your ministry calling?’ quiz and the result is: Missions and Outreach.” I could have been quite happy not knowing that you just joined the ‘Global Water Balloon Fight’ and that you “really want a KFC” and I didn’t need to know that you’re “on the bus feeling tired.” In short, I no longer want to be your facebook friend.

Facebook is more than five years old now and I’ve had an account since about 2006. At first it was slow moving, using it was like walking into a nightclub so early that nobody is at the bar let alone on the dance floor. Eventually though, I began to accumulate friends, quickly amassing an impressive list of people I knew, kind of knew, had met a few times, knew by association, or had met at a party – once. Some were friends, but most were just virtual connections whom I added in my enthusiasm then didn’t have the heart to delete later.

I don’t really understand where facebook is supposed to fit into my life. Once I had exchanged a few messages with distant friends, checked out pictures of old ex-girlfriends to see how fat they had become, and taken a few of the dumb quizzes sent to me by people on my friends list, I was left wondering ‘Now what?”

So called ‘friend requests’ were coming in thick and fast. Names I had to strain to recall were wanting to add me to their ‘friends’ without so much as a “How are you?” or a “What have you been up to lately?” I would closely examine their profile pictures, squinting at their eyes as if this might sharpen my recollection.

Eventually my account (and my email) was filling up with alerts telling me that this person had just done this thing, or that thing, taken this quiz or joined that group, installed this application or become friends with some other random person. Status updates would tell me that someone who never speaks to me in real life was having a great afternoon, or that another person was “cleaning their house”, or that someone else was “at the hairdressers.” Pretty quickly I found myself wondering why the heck I needed to know this crap?

I decided that I didn’t need to be up to speed with the daily drudge of some old squeeze from back when Bon Jovi were singing about Beds of Roses. I didn’t need to get up-to-the-moment updates of rush hour traffic in Chelmsford, or the benign rants of a clearly depressed ‘friend’ who was having issues with her “fuckhead of a boyfriend” (whom I had never met). It seemed pretty clear to me that the time had come for a facebook ‘friend cull’, and with that I began systematically ‘de-friending’ people.

At first I felt bad, like I was being disrespectful or something. De-friending someone on facebook seems like the social equivalent of telling someone their baby is ugly. But after the initial opportunity to catch up with someone from way back and spend a few minutes curiously peering into their lives like some government CCTV operator, how else was I to gracefully exit the exchange?

Fortunately most of the promiscuous ‘friend whores’ (people with more than two or three hundred people on their friends list) didn’t notice I had ditched them. A couple did, and one or two people even got upset about it, saying more to me in a message expressing their annoyance than they had said to me in the entire time we had been enjoying our new found digital friendship. I did my best to explain it was nothing personal, and for the most part I think people were okay with it.

And that’s just it, Facebook is nothing personal. It’s an endless precession of worthless crap spewing onto the world wide web like effluents from a burst pipe. Yes I know, some people like it because they can keep up with their friends, but if the site were to be switched off tomorrow, how many of those people would make a real world effort to continue sharing crap with one another?

Of course, coming from me this might all seem like a contradiction. As a blogger I am a person who spends a significant amount of my time sharing what some might regard as “worthless crap.” Indeed, one of my friends remarked that blogging was “stupid” and “simply pointless.” She decried that bloggers were “stupid people who wanted to make themselves feel better by writing stuff on the internet.” Oddly enough, my blog hating friend has since become an active facebook user with a long list of friends. She probably gives no thought to the fact that when she makes a facebook status update she does so with much the same motivation as the average blogger.

I’m not the first person to tire of the witless rubbish that swamps my facebook account, but as a web professional myself it’s hard to see where the site is going. Several (real) friends of mine have commented that they like facebook because of the pictures, but if it hopes to cash in on the value of its astounding number of users then it needs to do so sooner rather than later; people can only add so many friends, or do so many pointless quizzes. If facebook doesn’t find a place of real value soon the fickle people of the digital world will leave the site for something new as quickly as they deserted the likes of Xanga and myspace.

I might not have been an altogether early adopter of the site, but I’m going to be an early deserter. My friends know who they are, we email, we talk on the phone, we visit one another. They know that just because I don’t care about their facebook status, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about them.

It was fun for a while, but I’ll be closing my facebook account this week.

Facebook is bad for the brain
Judge rules that facebook friends aren’t friends
Facebook’s growing problem
Adbusters : Quit facebook
Quitting facebook gets easier
What to do when old photos of you appear on Facebook
Why I don’t get facebook
Get your face on my comments!
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