I'm currently trying out a new behavior trait: "going back to the way it was before." Sounds exciting, huh. Color me Facebook-less since 1.5 months and frankly, this is the first time since I feel the need to actually share something.
My idea was this: what if I would write down and re-visit the steps that lead up to that decision to leave the largest social network in the world? Why? Well, for one thing, I think the idea to go back to earlier practices (such as writing a full blown more than 140 character journal) is going to move slowly back into the center of our collective conscious over the next 5 years. People will start to realize it's the sane thing to do, or so at least that is my guess. But let's look into the dynamics of how I got there.
Many of us remember the so called "browser wars", the epic "os flame-wars", or even further down the burning question wether gnu or unix would be preferable, wether java would be worth it compared to c++, etc.. 30 or 40 years ago, these discussions were of a technical level and nerdism that few can aspire to imagine today. These discussions, much like today, were full of noise, trolls and the occasional insightful remark. These wars were fought in obscure IRC channels and BBS forums, but there was one thing pretty special about them. The technological limits were the only roadblock that stopped our brains from dumping their content in 7 or 8 bit streams that could be shared and read by our fellow peers and friends (and foes). After the browser war came the Napster incident, the BearShare and KaZaa incidents and many systems that predate our current torrent / tor p2p sharing infrastructure. Curiously, I never read about social network wars, which of course also happened. A quick look at the Wikipedia page shows a whopping 208 unique social network websites that attempt to capture our attention, every day life, pictures, personal data, emotions, furniture, love for smiling shit and everything else in between. Not every single one of them survived of course. Who remembers Myspace? Bolt? MS LiveSpaces? or Hyves? So yeah there were wars, but the concept of war was never prominently played, things just "evolved".
So there I was in December 2016, pondering if I still needed facebook. I struck me that I had refrained from posting personal things. In fact in multiple runs, I had slowly started to remove personal data, simply because it increasingly looked ridiculous. Would you start yelling your city of birth and birthday just about anyone in the street? Your marital status? Would you show all the pictures of all your travels and everything else to complete strangers? Of course not. Sure you can spend endless hours 'managing' all that information. Such fun. So much to re-post, so much 'news' to share.
Until you've had it with the latest policy change. Until you realize you are again indicating people they are sharing fake 'news' or hoaxes. Until you realize all your friends posts start with 'OMG'. Or that you can't include 2 images in one post that blatantly refute each-other, because, hey it's facebook. Until you realize that all posts shared say: "look, this is *really* interesting, but I'm just going to dump it here because I'm tired of pretending my shit is more interesting than yours. eat it or die."
Ego needs a cookie. I did truly post some interesting stuff. Stuff about stock markets that are indicative of how defunct our world is. Stuff from NOAA that says how fucked up our climate has become already. Stuff in research papers that tell something about the very structure of our universe. Stuff about brain functions, important findings on cellular level to fight disease, etc, etc.. Not that very many people ever reacted to 'my' shared crap. At best, people reacted because I reacted to their posts first.
On Januari 1st 2017, I stopped playing that pathetic me-me game, and went back to my previous behavior: I traded facebook with sleep. I read books. I started to play FinalFantasy again. I still check my news channels, but you know what.. somehow I'm getting better at finding new resources, new pointers. And I'm looking at much more meaningful content. See back of this post.
The date is not coincidental. On December 31st 2016, we were out for new-years-eve at my parents-in-law. It was a fairly modest get together with nice food, cozy dinner, and a bit of fireworks on TV. In Belgium and The Netherlands, there is a tradition to watch comedians that recount how they saw the past year, such as Wim Helsen or Michael Van Peel. Comparing them to John Stewart / Daily Show would do neither party any favors, but in my book they're equally good. In fact they're all best in their class.
While the evening shot past mid-night, we all wished each-other happy new year and stayed up for a while until the inevitable sleep and early morning came around. Nothing very shocking, but little did we know that at that very same time, somebody had cracked open the front door of our house and was going through all our possessions, stealing laptops, cameras, my bike I use daily with mounted child-seat, golden jewelry, and possibly other stuff, making a huge mess in the process. We were literally 100km south.
We arrived home at 7PM, found some people in front of our house gesturing at the break-in. After the initial shock, my cool kicks in. The first thing to do was to verify the house, call the police and go through the whole procedure. Yes, it's nerve wrecking and sleep-inducing at the same time. Our hope that the police finds the culprit is virtually nil, while at the same time you're supposed to be angry and mad, hopeful and rational. I can't do that emotion very convincingly. I just kept going until everyone was asleep.
When I finally sat down for a few minutes (or hours - the door was badly damaged, so I kept guard the whole night in freezing temperatures) I had time go over all the events. Time gives me oxygen. I'm slow like that, I step on the brakes when I'm going too fast. Given that laptops had been stolen, I decided it was time to change passwords. We still had our phones after all, android, so pretty vulnerable if they could hack into our stuff first. And then it suddenly occurred to me that selling this 'event' in my life on facebook was really the last thing I ever would want to do. Much like all the other important events in my life which I did not share. And so I dropped facebook and Google+ overnight. I'm searching with duckduckgo now. I haven't had a single moment of regret. I sometimes am curious of what is going on there of course, but I imagine it's just the same shit again and again, in different colors.
So what makes me share all this here then, you wonder? Well, all of this is old news, it's also much more digested, no images, no screaming. It's a wall of text full of close to logical long sentences. Those looking for quick fixes will be off running to their click pools after half a paragraph. Those reading this will probably not care and never comment. So who is left? It's me. And that's just fine.
Much in concordance with my earlier post, I pledge for us all to go back to earlier times, pick up things that were loved but lost in the fabric of spacetime. Let's go back and be ace at it. Hello world!
ps: Forget Trump, check this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEwuGHFF7qE&t=10s&index=1&list=LL4dYPyntjgFh1JxPMFxCOsw