Facebook is dead to me: long live Facebook!

Itzam de Gortari

So what’s with “People in my neighborhood” anyway?  At first, it was to tell some short stories about interesting people I meet on a regular basis.  And it gave me the opportunity to show off a wonderful new Olympus 45mm 1.8 micro four-thirds portrait lens (for that beautifully shallow depth-of-field as you can see with this photo of Itzam de Gortari, who serves as a tech liaison between Seattle and Mexico; Itzam brought a Mexican delegation of entrepreneurs to an event that I moderated last week with Zillow CTO David Beitel).

I’ve also realized there’s a strong “Storyteller Uprising” connection to these posts.  For a long time now, I’ve considered how social media platforms have greatly facilitated content sharing.  But often, I get the feeling that these channels inspire more sharing than content production — quickly satiating our creative urges without truly compelling us to be creative, let alone verbose.  And I’m not so crazy with how companies such as Facebook lay claim to the content that we do share, with overly-complicated terms of service and a propensity to encourage us to give it all away.  With its IPO imminent, we now see how valuable that sharing has been for Facebook.

I don’t hate Facebook.  I just don’t trust it.  I refuse to use it as a “social utility” to track my actions throughout the web.  I won’t tell it my real birthday, my true “likes” or my favorite music.  When the “Timeline” feature went live, I realized that Facebook was increasingly tricking me into making my posts public.  So I’m out.  I’m canceling my five year-old account this week.  I want to wipe out all that data that overly expose my family (two children born during that period) and friends.

[Update: here are the seven steps I took to start again]

If Facebook wants to make money off of me, I believe it’s only fair that I should reciprocate.  So similar to how I use Twitter and Google +, I’m going to create a new account primarily for professional relationships. Should I want to post images, I’ll do so through this blog, and other platforms where my ownership rights are clear.  I’ll allow anyone to subscribe to me, and I’ll be very liberal in who I friend (which I’ve been careful about up to now).  Because frankly, I’ll have less to worry about.  So then, it won’t matter whether I trust Facebook or not.

At the same time, I’ll put more time and thought into creating what I do want to share.  I will not limit myself to 140 characters.  I will not concern myself with how I present myself in the relative blandness of online suburbia (as social media sourpuss Nicholas Carr once described Facebook).  I hope to tell more stories, and to capture more beauty.  Over lunch today, playwright and Hollywood writer Robert Schenkkan expressed this to be his near-term objective as well.  Though as a prolific creator with Pulitzer and Emmy trophies on his mantle, I don’t think it’s going to be as challenging for him as it will be for me!

Robert Schenkkan


  1. I really like this idea and have thought about doing something similar but get stuck on how to share photos/little daily events with extended family/friends. How are you planning on doing this? Or are you just planning on not sharing as much electronically?

  2. It’s a good question Rebekah. I’ve heard of folks setting up private accounts (blogs, photo sites, etc.) and then alerting their close relations when there’s new content. It’s not as automatic as Facebook, but it keeps things closer to the chest. There’s also new platforms like Path. But who knows whether their business model is ultimately the same as Facebook’s?

  3. This is admirable, Hanson. Well played, and good luck. I imagine a lot of your readers will want to do the same thing, though I bet they’ll be hesitant to actually pull that trigger. You’ve done a masterful job of positioning yourself as someone worth following, and having that level of influence will make this transition much easier for you because readers will go wherever they need to in order to get your perspective. What would this look like for folks who aren’t as influential?

    Is blogging really worth the time and effort if simple Facebook posts can leverage your existing network and reach the most people? It’s an interesting question and one I’m sure we’ll see some people wrestle with in the next few months. As Facebook continues to grow and further embed itself in our daily communications, will people brush off the privacy/ownership issues and use Facebook just because it’s easy? Or do they stand their ground and make a move to share their stories elsewhere? If it’s the latter, I’m guessing they’ll be in for a surprise when (at least initially) there’s no one around to hear the tree fall in the woods.

  4. You raise the fundamental dilemma to all of this Derek. Facebook provides convenience and easy reach. It takes no time at all to create a status update, share an image, or provide feedback to a “friend.” It takes much more effort to cultivate that reach through a blog (though you can certainly promote your posts via Facebook, as I do). Remember the pyramid in Charlene Li’s books? How at the top, you have the smallest percentage of folks who are actually creating content? That’s because it’s hard, it takes time and effort, and most of us don’t really want to do it. Facebook posts/shares etc. help us scratch the top-of-the-pyramid creative itch. But let’s not fool ourselves. Much of that is conversation, not creation. It certainly has value, but at least in my situation, I want to take advantage of that value on my own terms, and not on the shifting sands that are Facebook’s terms of engagement.

  5. I like your idea. I got off of facebook once and then came back because of the need to have a larger audience for what I believe and stand for. I use facebook for the news feeds I am linked to, for the information that friends are spreading via the site, and to spread some of my own news, as well as to promote my blog. I am certainly not impressed or happy about the attempts to invade my privacy, but I take that with a grain of salt — anyone in control and in power will ultimately try to invade my privacy. I suppose we can always head for the hills if worse comes to worse…

    I found you, by the way, from a friend of mine via facebook.


  6. Hi Hanson, I really like what you’re doing! I’m curious, and for clarification: Will you no longer keep personal photos on FB? No more photos of family, weekend lunches, etc. Or will you try to manage photos on an as-needed basis? Just curious how to handle that – and when someone else tags you in a photo, or uploads a photo of your kids. I recently noticed (with frustration) that I can no longer “untag” myself in other people’s photos of me (or, I just can’t figure out how to do it anymore!). 🙂 Thanks for all of your great posts!

  7. David, I love the irony! Christy, I am going to avoid posting personal photos to FB. If they’re so good that they’re worth sharing, then I will probably post them here first, then cross-post to FB. I want to have 100% control over my content.

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