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