I killed my Facebook account yesterday. Or at least disabled it.
I’d like to delete my account completely, but I can’t figure out how. Maybe that means I only redacted it. Sort of.
Yesterday Jessica and Collin wrote about “redaction” as a metaphor for security. I think Facebook could be another security metaphor.
As PDFs symbolize paper, Facebook suggests relationships. Homeland security folks are supposed to create relationships instead of building stovepipes. Agencies are supposed to be be socially transparent and share with partners, stakeholders and a greatful public. Social networks are poised to replace hierarchy. Facebook — done correctly — could be the answer the homeland security enterprise is looking for.
It’s just not too clear what the question is.
PDFS are not paper, although with a printer they can pretend to be. In a similar fashion, Facebook “friends” can not be “the masterpiece of nature” Emerson sought in a friend. Perhaps as metaphor they come closer to being the “friends” Camus described who just “want … to be maintained in the good opinion they have of themselves.”
A social network does not help prevent terrorism by displaying pictures of a new decontamination truck.
(Social networks — at least the internet version — may even play a smaller role in creating terrorists than the current Nidal Hasan fueled analysis suggests. But more about that in a few weeks.)
I’d been on Facebook for a few years. I’ve been moderately serious about it for a year. I joined because I believed (and still do) that social networks represent the next evolution of collaborative consciousness. And I think that kind of lived awareness can benefit homeland security. It’s a hypothesis that makes sense to me.
I wanted to learn what a virtual network space could mean in practice. I tried MySpace and Facebook, and without a lot of thought, Facebook became my default application. I still believe in social networks, but Facebook doesn’t cut it for me any more. I think relying on a “service” like Facebook just because it is available may ultimately do more to harm the growth of effective social networks in homeland security than it does to help.
I have no web-based alternative. Maybe Microsoft’s Vine. Maybe Google’s Wave. Maybe something that is slowly emerging from the semi-transparent mind of a 13 year old. Or, God forbid, maybe the alternative is talking to people face-to-face.
And apparently Facebook owns everything that anyone puts on their account and has eternal rights to make T-Shirts out of any message you send. Or something like that.
In Sunday’s New York Times, Brad Stone (or at least someone who calls himself that) described how Facebook accounts are being hacked to send messages “telling [your] co-workers and loved ones how to raise their I.Q.’s or make money instantly, or urging them to watch an awesome new video in which they star.”
So enough for me. For awhile anyway. I am content to wait for the Millennials to work out the bugs in Facebook or whatever it evolves into. [For one recent study describing how this is going, see "Use of Social Networking by Undergraduate Psychology Majors."]
“Why are you leaving?”
“It’s just not working out,” I lied.
“No,” I answered.
“Am I too difficult to use?”
“Then why are you leaving? I need to know.”
“It’s other” I said, checking off the Other box.
“Other’s not good enough,” Facebook persisted. ”I need to know the specific reason.”
I’d been in relationships like this before. I knew what to do.
“It’s not you. It’s me,” I explained
“Ok,” Facebook said. ”But are you sure you want to leave? Your 348 friends will miss you.”
“Yes,” I said, “I’m sure.”
“I’ll deactivate you,” Facebook said with a watery-eyed reluctance in its by now quivering bytes. “But I’ll leave your account here. And you can comeback whenever you want. It will be like you never left.”
I signed out of my Facebook account for the last time. Free of it.
A few hours later I got an email from an old Air Force buddy who found me last spring after 40 years:
“Hey Chris,” he wrote, “I’m really hurt, man. You de-friended me on Facebook.”
“OMG!” I thought. ”Do I now have to write emails to the other 347 people on my friends list telling them it’s not about them; it’s me?”
I’ll ask my Twitter followers. They’ll know what I should do.