On Starting Facebook Anew

On Starting Facebook Anew

An Open Letter to my friends and followers

Previously published on Facebook and Medium on January 25, 2017

If you’re reading this on my Facebook page, welcome. If you’ve come across this post on Medium via means other than a Facebook link, thank you in advance for reading. Though much of this post will be devoted to those I know personally and interact with on Facebook, I’m hopeful there’s something you can take from this article.

Those of you who know me will undoubtedly ask why I’ve gone through the extraordinary step of starting a new Facebook account. The query is most certainly a valid one, and as you read through this I’m hoping you’ll come to understand why this was, in my view, the only reasonable option for me to entertain.

I came to Facebook in March, 2007 — a late convert. Truth be told, I wasn’t really aware of this trend until someone I worked with at eBay brought it to my attention. Back then, Facebook was not at all what it is today. That said, it was then and remains the flagship of my social media presence.

Today’s capabilities allow it to be a hub to link other web-based accounts; keep updated with events in the lives of friends and loved ones and access news and information from a world that is changing faster than I can keep up.

For months, I’d debated the necessity of Facebook to my own life. Many of you will have noticed my activity level was not nearly what it used to be. I’d logon out of curiosity — check out what people were up to, and I’d log off thinking to myself that the time spent scrolling through an endless series of statuses and check-ins was time not well-spent. In fact, in many of those instances, I became more bemused at human behaviour.

The vague status update — the one in which people post something cryptic and incomplete, in an attempt to garner sympathy from others — was the worst offence, and I’m sorry to say, one of the most common I’d see on my feed.

I’d known for months that it was time for me to do a serious cleaning of my account. Clutter isn’t really my style, and whether it be people on my friends list that I no longer interacted with or simply managing years worth of photos and posts, the task at hand seemed to be insurmountable. I will say, for all the mechanisms Facebook employs to enable communication, commerce and collaboration on a global level between its users, it isn’t very user-friendly when you have to go back into your own history.

I’m also one of those people that isn’t a real fan of other people. I’ve always been this way — surround myself with a few close friends and the rest are in a basket of acquaintances. As I grow older, the circle of those closest to me seems to narrow, while the basket of acquaintances seems to grow ever larger. This, in my view, is a consequence of the world we now live in. People have become more shallow; relationships with people are more difficult to build, develop and maintain. For many, what used to be a ritual Friday night poker game is now replaced with a Tinder hookup and streaming a movie on Netflix. It sounds bleak, but this is how I’ve come to see things today.

In the last few months, I’ve come to terms with that in my own life. One of the things that make me who I am are my strongly-held views on a number of things, and the principles that guide my day-to-day life. Many of those principles were thrown by the wayside out of expediency — they got in my way at a particularly difficult time in my life. I’m ashamed of that, but am proud to say that not only have I owned that, but have redefined the way in which I prioritize those golden rules that govern my conduct.

I know I’ve been distant these last couple of years. Sorry about that! Perhaps we can have coffee or a drink soon…

In the last few years, I’ve not connected with a large group of people who were, at one time, valued friends and indispensable confidantes. I won’t name any specifically, but if you’re on my Facebook list and you haven’t heard or seen me in a while, then you’re right to think this paragraph is about you. For that, I am tremendously sorry and I’ll make efforts to catch up soon. Should you not wish to, and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, all the best!

The flip side is the story of those who didn’t make the cut. Over the last several months I’ve had the unpleasant task of disconnecting with a number of people. These are people you will not find on my Facebook list anymore, nor in my life generally. These people, whom at one time were thought to be as valued as all of you, were essentially let go once it was discovered that I valued the relationship more than they did. I had a month off in November, 2016 — and a lot of it was spent filtering out those relationships which proved to be more one-sided than mutual.

My previous Facebook account is 10 years old. I was 23 back then. Not that I was a bad person then, but I certainly was not the person I am today, nor the person I wish I could be. At that age, I was angrier and much more impulsive. Today, I’m happier, more situated, have a better sense of who I am and the personal weaknesses I need to remedy. I believe that this, in and of itself, makes me a man of character — more than I could have said about myself when I was 23 years old.

Over the next few days I intend to populate my new Facebook account with photos, information and updates. Moving forward, I will be more diligent in keeping up with the clutter that social media inevitably creates, because I believe that less of it online will mean less of it in general. In addition to that, the other thing people who follow me can expect is that I what you see of me on Facebook will be a reflection of the real me.

As I’ve mentioned, I am no stranger to strongly-held opinions. Not everyone will agree with what I think or the method I choose to express it. I’m aware of the permanence of social media posts, and the consequences of expressing unpopular views. This will not be a consideration at all for anything I wish to express. At the end of the day, this is my account. This is a space for me to express myself, debate, offer opinions and perspectives and yes, even vent sometimes. You’re welcome to engage me, share your views and attempt to convince me of how wrong I am at times. I encourage this. Much of the posts where I offer a take on politics or any observations of society which interest me will be open to the public at any rate.

For everything else, the more personal, private elements of my life, it was just time to reset things. Some of you will no doubt disagree or not understand the significance of this action and the goal I strive to accomplish, and that’s fair. The point is that this reset was, for me, the right thing to do. It was a better option than status-quo and it was better than not having a Facebook presence at all.

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