It was a moment of drunken clarity.
“I’m leaving FACEBOOK” I announced to the duckrabbit team over a few beers the night before a workshop.
The reasons are multiple.
I’ve started to resent the fact that everything I do on the internet is tracked so that advertisers can sell me crap that I do not need. The photography/videography world is full of very nice people who are obsessed with kit and for a while I’ve been in danger of becoming one. Honestly speaking my experience is the more the talent we buy in are posessed with kit the less they are able to connect with the story in front of them.
The second reason is that as duckrabbit grew I got more and more friend requests from people I’ve never met, or barely know. Instead of declining the request I kept saying yes. I also asked people to become my friend without having any real interest in them as human beings. My page became a bit of a marketing platform. It also meant that my feed was overwhelmed with information about people with whom I have no real connection, providing a stained glass window onto lives that barely exist. Being connected with people on Facebook became a reason not to make the effort in real life. One of my friends’ perfectly summed this up when he wrote, “I’ve known Benjamin since before puberty but Facebook is the only place he talks to me.” Piss poor and true.
None of this is having a go at Facebook. I like Facebook and I have no deep problem with their business model, I just came to the drunken conclusion that my life would be better without it.
Later that night I wrote the following update and then started deleting everyone:
I have to admit I felt sad deleting off people who I really like but haven’t seen for many years. I knew that I would probably never see or hear about them again. But then if I really cared I should have made more of an effort to stay in contact in a meaningful way. The sadness was real but momentary.
I’m writing this at Prince George airport in Northern British Columbia where we’ve spent a fantastic week making a film with Daniel Gallant, an ex Nazi skinhead. About an hour after we met with Daniel he took me to one side and said that he wanted to apologise to me for something that he tagged me in on Facebook. I was perplexed. It turned out that he came to the conclusion that he must have pissed me off and that’s why I unfriended him. Then I realised that there must be a lot of people who think I unfriended them for reasons other than the real one.
I should have written to all my ‘friends’ and explained I was leaving.
That’s my regret.
But I’m happy I left.