About a week ago, I realized that I had not posted anything on my Facebook in 2012.  Actually, not true, I did post a Happy New Year message on the 1st, but nothing since.  It got me to thinking: What really is the value that I get from Facebook?

And that turned me on to a subsequent thought: What value is Facebook getting from me that I don’t get in return?  I’m not a fan of Facebook’s privacy policies, and I’m essentially donating content and market data to Facebook for free.  Given that Facebook can index and analyze my information without even being able to provide a copy of everything they store about me, I thought it might be time to get a little bit of privacy back in my life.

For posts, the primary value is really just to “feel good” because other people are “liking” my posts and thoughts.  It really gets down to the central need that we humans have that makes us so conscious of getting approval from our fellow humans.  But when I thought about it, I realized that most of my posts don’t really have much content or value.  They’re generally just Tweets that have been pushed to Facebook automatically, so 130 characters or less of my mindless thoughts from that day.

I’ve always wanted my Facebook to be private, like my inner circle of friends when we hang out at a bar.  For this reason it took me almost 2 years to come to terms with accepting my mom’s friend request — you really don’t want your mom around every time you’re hanging out with your friends.  I don’t understand “liking” companies on Facebook, nor do I want applications like “What song was popular when you were conceived” to now have access to all of my personal information.  I had to accept the truth of the matter — Facebook is not a private forum to interact with my friends.  I could either accept that all my personal information and content would now be owned by Facebook, or choose to divest myself of Facebook instead.

I haven’t totally given up on Facebook, and likely won’t go the extra step of deleting my account.  I still participate in 2 ways:

  1. Private messages.  If you don’t have someone’s email address, sending a Facebook private message is the easiest way to contact people you don’t talk to on a regular basis.  Let’s say I’m traveling to Sydney and want to meet up with people I know in Sydney, then I send them a Facebook message.
  2. Commenting on other people’s posts.  Just because I’m not posting doesn’t mean I can’t be lurker!  Although I am doing this less and less it seems.

And look at the brightside — now maybe I’ll have a few extra hours per day of productivity, world exploration, or just plan fun that I would have spent on Facebook.  Not a bad tradeoff.

If you want to keep following Joe, he still actively posts on Twitter, checks in FourSquare, and uses this blog and Tumblr.

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