Bill Ralston commits Facebook suicide

by Bill Ralston / 16 November, 2011
Experience the joys of social-network oblivion.
Having successfully infuriated a small herd of socially concerned folk with my recent criticism of the “Occupy” movement as a pack of spaced-out ­whiners who sound just as greedy as those they despise, I’m moving on to alienate many more.

This week I committed Facebook suicide. I clicked around the settings on my page, discovered the cyber equivalent of a cyanide pill and took it. Facebook really doesn’t like letting you go. Numerous warnings and pleadings appeared, and even after I flicked the switch for social-network oblivion an email popped up in my Gmail account letting me know I had 14 days to recant and come back.

What do people see in Facebook? Most of the comments consist of unconscionable babble, trite bumper-sticker platitudes and shameless self-promotion. Admittedly, it’s my fault for being a digital slut and stupidly accepting the “friendship” of anyone who asked. I had about 2700 by the time I pulled the plug. I had foolishly thought it would be interesting to glimpse the lives and thoughts of the widest possible selection of people. It’s not.

Almost everyone I wanted to hear from I could phone or email; the remaining 99% (if I can use that now-pejorative term) were largely best ignored. My decision to quit Facebook came when some lithe young woman posted on my “Wall” a picture of herself half-naked on the toilet, and someone else put up a picture of a fully clothed Peter Dunne. I think the Dunne photo was the more offensive of the two, but enough was enough. It was time to go.

I had already deleted the Facebook application on my iPhone because of its annoying habit of messaging me every time someone dumped on my page or replied to something I’d said. Worse, it would send me messages on “friends’” movements, saying such things as “Ida Dunmovin is at Sale St Bar”. Why would I need to know that? It just made me thirsty and somewhat annoyed that they were out having fun when I was not.

Someone recently sent me an email on the iPhone tracker application. You install it and link up with the iPhones of friends and family so you always know where they are. “Uncle Harry is in the public urinals on Ponsonby Rd.” Not again.

My wife already has an uncanny ability to locate me anywhere, and my children are old enough now that I have a horror of finding out where they might be and what they are up to. The other salient point is, why would you need an iPhone tracker system when the device is, in fact, a phone and you could simply call people to find out where they are?

It would be handy if your phone was stolen and you wanted to find where it was, but having located it through the tracker system – and bearing in mind the police have better things to do – do you seriously think you’d storm the criminal’s house and demand your phone back? Claim it on insurance and buy a new one.

Another social-media site I’m putting on a warning is LinkedIn, a kind of business version of Facebook where you have “contacts” rather than “friends”, and people can use their network of “contacts” to further their commercial interests. The “Occupy” movement would hate it, and I’m trending in that direction, too.

I have accumulated several hundred “contacts”, but in 12 months I’ve received only one genuine business enquiry. I have received a message from Bono about some famine in Somalia and a note from a chap asking if I wanted to book former US vice-president Al Gore for a speech when he came through Asia last month, but neither of these notifications really improved my business.

Too many computer applications are now pointlessly intrusive. For years I’ve been driven mad by the “Chat” component on my Gmail account. I’d be staring at the page when suddenly up would pop a little box in the corner and someone, somewhere, would be asking me questions. Bugger off! I’m busy reading my emails. If you want to chat, send me an email, for god’s sake! Finally, I found something to click to turn off “Chat”. It only took me four years to work that one out.

Twitter is currently surviving my purge because there are always a few witty one-liners and an occasionally interesting “link”. However, thanks to the fervour of the election campaign, I note the tenor of the conversations has become more boringly doctrinaire and acerbic.

No one solicits junk mail in their letter box, so why lay yourself open to it online? My best advice is “De-Occupy Cyberspace”.

Latest

Rising sea levels are putting our coasts in crisis – should we adapt or retreat?
99383 2018-11-22 00:00:00Z Planet

Rising sea levels are putting our coasts in crisis…

by Sally Blundell

Either option carries considerable economic, social and environmental costs and it’s a debate communities cannot tackle in isolation.

Read more
Overlord is a Nazi zombie B-movie with a slight difference
99374 2018-11-21 14:42:54Z Movies

Overlord is a Nazi zombie B-movie with a slight di…

by James Robins

Have you heard? Nazis are bad. It seems that some people need reminding, and thus we have Overlord.

Read more
The new eatery bringing old-school arcade games to Kingsland
99364 2018-11-21 14:24:21Z Auckland Eats

The new eatery bringing old-school arcade games to…

by Alex Blackwood

Chicka transforms into Arcade with a Neo Tokyo-style fit-out, arcade games and a new menu.

Read more
New bar Morningcidery is opening up the world of cider
99332 2018-11-21 10:47:11Z Auckland Eats

New bar Morningcidery is opening up the world of c…

by Alex Blackwood

Sip on all kinds of cider, like pineapple and jalapeno, at this dedicated new cider bar.

Read more
Who killed Waiwera? The troubled history of a popular resort town
99313 2018-11-21 09:38:21Z Auckland Issues

Who killed Waiwera? The troubled history of a popu…

by Donna Chisholm

From the archives: A small seaside town is dead. Was it the victim of greedy developers, warring tycoons, or a road that no longer runs through it?

Read more
The wake-up call this meth addicted mum needed
99308 2018-11-21 07:26:35Z Social issues

The wake-up call this meth addicted mum needed

by Anonymous

A mum shares her struggle of overcoming a meth addiction to help give a better life to her two children.

Read more
In the face of US sanctions and corrupt ideologues, Iranians get by on defiance
99284 2018-11-21 00:00:00Z World

In the face of US sanctions and corrupt ideologues…

by Peter Calder

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Peter Calder finds almost everything is forbidden, yet accessible.

Read more
The Kiwi rug repairer who helped capture the Qashqai's threatened way of life
99289 2018-11-21 00:00:00Z Movies

The Kiwi rug repairer who helped capture the Qashq…

by Peter Calder

A new doco gives a portrait of the Iranian nomads through the eyes of Wellingtonian Anna Williams.

Read more