Before I get into how I unplugged from Facebook in late 2010, let me detail how I became Hyper-Connected, which will provide context for why unplugging has become so important to me now.
I was late to the Facebook party. I was an early adopter at Friendster, LinkedIn, Formspring, and Twitter. Never did Tumblr or FourSquare. Late to MySpace, late to Facebook. I’ve been blogging since before it was called blogging (I had an online journal at my Earthlink website in 1998, and my friends would email “comments” to me and I’d respond to them in subsequent posts at the journal) and I loves me some Internets. Loves. I’ve always been an admin or moderator at message boards or email-based groups. Remember “eGroups” and “eCircles” and Telnet listservs? I did all of that. I see great value in online connectivity. Met my husband through an eGroup attached to a ‘zine for which I was a writer, almost ten years ago.
My choice to unplug from the Facebook has nothing to do with not finding value in what the Facebook is and does. I get it. I’ve loved it for its usefulness. I’ve built up new relationships, rekindled others. So, I’m not interested in debate on the merits of this free site I enjoyed using for just over two years. I’m simply writing up my extraction plan, in case it inspires anyone else who may feel as I had started to feel: Forced to stay Hyper-Connected.
I’m accessible. I always have been. I’ve written a weekly column somewhere since 1999. I make my living as a writer, and supplement my living as a casting director, producer, content distributor, speaker, and teacher. I answer questions at message boards, I answer questions in each week’s column, I answer questions via Formspring, Twitter, email, and—until now—Facebook.
When I first joined Facebook, I was unaware of the 5000 friend cap. I had been on MySpace, where my friend count had no limit and where I had been successful in using the site to promote my column, growing its readership from 12,000 hits per week to over 36,000. When we crossed the 50,000-hit mark, I stopped my weekly promotion, realizing I’d reached a significant enough audience that they’d help spread the word and I could go back to focusing on writing rather than promoting. That was nice.
At Facebook, I categorized my friends. This was extremely helpful, as from the moment I joined in September of 2008 (and started a fan page, simultaneously), I was bombarded with friend requests. I researched each person to be sure we should be connected (this entailed a trip to IMDb or a quick Google) and then put ’em into categories. The one called “wannabes” was especially useful as I began my “Friend Shui,” because I could just unplug from all of those folks at once, feeling no pang of guilt whatsoever. I had “actors I’ve cast,” “actors I want to cast someday,” “people who’ve hired me,” “people I hope hire me someday,” and categories for the 211 alumni of the Cricket Feet Showcase and the 145 alumni of my ongoing Self-Management for Actors Seminars. Also “back in the day” folks from the foggy past, “duty adds” (Do you need to ask?), and “agents and managers,” “casting directors,” “writers,” “directors,” “producer types.” As we started doing the Southern Food Challenge, that was a category. And we still do Thirsty Third Thursday, so that category remains.
Categorizing friends was extremely helpful as I could post things that were available only to selected “audiences.” This was power-using of the Facebook. And it’s also been helpful as I now look at each person from whom I’m disconnecting, and wonder, “Who are you? And how did you get on my friends list?”
When I reached the max of 5000 friends (after four months of being on Facebook), I turned off searchability and friend requestability. This was awesome. This feature was removed in 2009, which sucks, because when I was having to turn down 20 to 30 friend requests per day, I was getting blue. Seriously. I have an “all or nothing” personality and I really did spend time looking people up and deciding who could come in and who would have to leave, in order to make room for that new person, once my friends list got full. It was like Sophie’s Choice every day. I hated it! So, the fact that Facebook allowed me to turn off being findable and addable was awesome. I could wait for someone to post something nice on my fan page wall, then go add them if I so desired. Perfect!
And then Zuckerberg—in his infinite wisdom—made everyone searchable and everyone addable (everyone who wasn’t blocked, that is). Fabulous. Now I’m back to getting 20 to 30 friend requests per day and because I look everyone up and have to kill off an existing friend to make room for the folks I do want to add, it’s a huge time suck. Yes, I could try to become a totally different kind of person—one who doesn’t look everyone up or take the connection seriously—but that’s not me, it never happened, and there it is. There is a certain level of OCD that makes Facebook hell at this point. Oh, and since I mentioned blocked people, I’ll say here that I only ever blocked one person: a creepy guy who went through my friends list and added everyone he could—even friends from grammar school, high school, and college (people with no attachment to Los Angeles or the entertainment industry, which is how he and I were connected a decade ago in real life)—when it got so uncomfortable as my friends emailed me asking, “Who is this guy and why does he want to be my friend?” *shudder* (Oh, and as I started defriending folks, anyone who was also a friend of his was a good first disconnect. Since he’d raided over a thousand of my friends, it was a great little list of folks who’d make me a wee bit less accessible to him. Good.)
Back to the hell that was the daily friend request thing: I started defriending ten people a day. Every day. All through 2010, that was the deal. And because I was also getting 20 to 30 friend requests per day, you can see how that would result in exactly no real change in my numbers. I stayed right in the 4900 friend zone pretty much from December 2008 through November 2010, when I pledged to lose 100 friends per day, ’til year-end.
Now, this “reverse friending” isn’t as easy as “friending,” because you’ve gotta remember, your friends are helping you add them, when you join. They’re helping you build connections (just as Zuckerberg wants). No one is helping me sever connections now, so it’s taking a lot of time. And the friend requests keep coming. Luckily, I don’t have to look up anyone to consider saying “yes” now. Everyone is a “not now,” thanks to the latest friend request redesign.
Before I get too deep into the “reverse friending,” let me say that in February of 2010—when Zuckerberg rolled out the most insipid of all privacy violations, and buried in the TOS that everything would be “opt out” from here on out (oh, and that the only way to become aware of developments before they rolled out would be to become a “fan” of the Facebook Site Governance Page and watch their updates like a hawk)—I started to put my plan in place. That plan?
Be off Facebook by year-end.
So, in February of 2010, I began privatizing my friend page. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with all of my content (hundreds of videos, thousands of photos, dozens of notes, kazillions of posts with comments and feedback and interaction), but I knew that one way I could make decisions unfettered was to STOP THE FLOW OF INTERACTION. By changing my settings on all vids, photo albums, and notes to “me only” (in terms of visibility), I stopped getting comments. And comments—elements of community interaction—are Facebook’s key to success. It is next to impossible to disconnect because of the Hyper-Connectivity Zuckerberg has so shrewdly put in place. He has raised the improvisational “yes, and…” to a cyber art form. And those of us who happen to be good southern girls (who will never leave someone hanging when they’ve paid a compliment) with OCD (must be fair—everyone deserves to know they’ve been heard—yes, I commented back on EVERY SINGLE ONE of my birthday wall posts. All 2317 of them) are huge victims of Zuckerberg’s labyrinth. This is when I wish I were less attached to fairness. Luckily, I found a way out, and that’s why I’m sharing this big-ass, rambling post with you all.
Okay, so at this point (February 2010), all of my vids, photo albums, and notes are private. I can—from there—decide what to keep and what to toss. Because I’m an electronic packrat, I decide it’s taking too long to decide what’s “a keeper,” so, why not put off deciding indefinitely and just keep it all?
Now, I’m not fortunate enough to be among the 3% of Facebook users for whom “download profile” became an option in 2010. My ex-beau is one of the lucky ones, and he did a full download/backup of his Facebook and put it on a thumb drive. That’s badass. I don’t have that option and I’m not going to wait. I had to do it by hand. Now, there was no need to keep any of the vids or photos, because I already had everything I had ever uploaded on a backup drive. But for the stuff that didn’t originate with me, the good news is, EVERY time someone tagged me in a photo (and remember, there were thousands), I would go to the album, create an album of the same name (or similar) on my backup drive, drag every photo I wanted into that folder on my backup drive, and call it a day. So, over the course of the 2.2 years I spent on Facebook, I was already actively storing anything I wanted, photo-wise.
But what about the comments? Ah, those lovely comments that make us so much more in love with our funny friends and sooo happy we dodged bullets by not marrying any of the boyfriends we had in elementary school. (WTF, was I raised in the place that grammar forgot?)
Well, I’ve long been using a very handy Firefox extension called [toread.cc] to store things I want to read, locally. See, I used to be a bookmark whore. I’d come across an article I wanted to read, a blog post I knew would be awesome, a message board discussion I feared would be trashed like Swiss cheese by one of the cranky posters who decided to come back and delete his words, and I’d bookmark the page to come back and read later. But later rarely came, and sometimes when later did come, the page would’ve been changed, deleted, trashed anyway. [toread.cc] helped me with that by creating a cached version of any page I wanted “to read” later and emailing it to me at the spam-catching Gmail address of my choice. Set up a filter on the emails so they go straight into a handy folder, and then—when I do have the time to look at something I marked “to read”—I can even use the powerful Gmail search function to go right to the cached page in my inbox.
Including hundreds of thousands of comments from 2.2 years of wall posts, vids, photos, notes, links, and status updates at the Facebook.
So, now that all of these things were free of new comments (due to privatization) and archived for me “to read” whenever (due to [toread.cc]), I could start deleting them at the Facebook.
I call this Scorched Earth Facebook. And nothing feels as good as going from hundreds of vids, thousands of photos, dozens of notes, kazillions of wall posts and status updates to—knowing they’re all stored and put away—completely blank pages. It’s spring cleaning. It’s clearing the clutter. It’s popping a zit.
Now, back to the removal of the friends, which is something I got very aggressive about when I returned from a mini-break in Palm Desert, November 3rd. Actually, first, some context and hopefully a good look into my mindset (and how a paradigm shift made this whole process a shitton easier on me) before this mini-break.
The midterm elections brought out this insipid little app called “Commit To Vote” at the Facebook. And no fewer than 40 of my friends installed the damn thing and told it that it was allowed to post on my wall that I should commit to vote. Any friend who had seen my wall in the weeks before enabling that crappy app would’ve seen that I voted by mail, due to the aforementioned mini-break that would have us out of town on election day. Any friend who couldn’t be bothered to visit my page perhaps knows me well enough to know that I always vote. Always. Always, always, always. And if you don’t know me that well and you can’t be bothered to visit my page, fuck you and your stupid app.
Clearly, I was turned into Miss Crabbypants by this app. It wasn’t a good thing. And as I bitched about the app, and well-meaning folks I don’t know in person made jokes about my mindset like they knew me, I found myself getting really riled up at them. WTF?
Here’s what I sent to my dear friend Colleen Wainwright, about what happened next:
So, I had a particularly unfun few moments with the Facebook this afternoon, after an incredibly productive and exciting morning with the MFAs of UCI and then Team Cricket Feet for some really cool development ideas and the moving-along of existing projects.
I decided I needed to put Miss Crabbypants down for a nap, rather than continuing to engage the machine, as it was just filled with too much I didn’t want to see.
Before I drifted off to sleep, I remembered your email newsletter from a few months back, in which you talked about someone having gone off email. I never clicked the link at the time, because the concept seemed terrifying. But I’ve been talking about leaving Facebook (except for maybe a core few dozen people I constantly feel inspired by or am greatly enriched by, and of course the fan pages) since February when they did their rape-and-pillage TOS changes. I knew it wouldn’t happen fast, so my plan was “by year-end.”
But as we get closer and closer to year-end, I feel myself unsure of how to disengage entirely, how to explain the disengaging should I be successful with that, and whether I’ll feel completely left out or somehow regret-filled for the choice. (Of course, logic brain knows I can always rebuild, should that be the case, and I’ve already spent months doing untagging, vid removal, note removal, post removal, disconnecting every time something displeases me enough to make me do so, etc., but there’s something about the “Scorched Earth Facebook” part of disconnecting that I know is coming that just has me worried, somewhere in my belly.)
So, instead of napping, I pulled out the gadget and went to your page, where I found your newsletter thanks to your amazing archives and my memory of what newsletter it was in (couldn’t believe I got it on the first shot) and clicked the link. I wanted to know how Havi did this “no email” thing. Not that I ever would attempt such a thing, but that it could lead me to a comfort zone with doing the nontraditional and *gasp* unplugging from Facebook.
I had no idea how much inspiration I would find, just clicking around her site. (No nap would happen. I sprung up, so fucking inspired!) I realized—among a BUNCH of other stuff that we can chat about (hopefully before year-end) in person (please, please, please) — that I too have a shitton of amazing free advice “out there” and happen to charge for stuff sometimes (not a lot, not by a longshot), and get hit with the types of questions she’s got all in her FAQ.
I realized that being reachable by Facebook is about as annoying now as being on message boards had become a few years back. I left all but TWO after a particularly nasty exchange with a troll at the Showfax board. NEVER missed the hours a day I spent answering questions there. In fact, was able to grow my brand and my worth by NOT being there, but answering the questions in public, via the column each week. Holy crap, that was easy. Why was I doing mini-consults for free at a message board populated by SOME people who sometimes had agendas way outside of “learning anything” from me or anyone else?
So, that’s how Facebook has gotten for me. And I have a CHOICE. So, I’m going to exercise it and this here email is probably going to be a part of the blog post that explains that choice at my brand spankin’ new blog, when the time comes for that to be something I actively point people to. 🙂
Meanwhile, Havi’s refrain of working with the “Right People” really hit home. I have been so busy chasing my tail over things that I thought were lessons learned, years ago, that I’ve reactivated an over-developed Popeye-sized muscle that was a part of me I was GLAD to minimize over two years ago, when I learned how much it was holding me back. As if on cue, I’ve invited folks into my life this year—folks I met through the Facebook—that have given me AMPLE opportunity to prove that muscle still exists and still WINS if I let it. And I have let it win a LOT with some of my business partners, lately. NOT attractive. NOT a part of who I want to be, actively.
What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity to learn that I have to make it a daily, concerted effort to put that muscle out of business (or to flex it only when it’s absolutely crucial, because it does have its value) and that sites like Facebook have HELPED me overdevelop that muscle again!
NEW CHOICE, as they say in improv games and TheatreSports. 🙂
Thank you for getting Havi on my radar, months ago, so that I could today have this punctuation mark put squarely on a sentence that I finally learned how to END, just this month.
So… the untagging I mentioned. I had never—not once, not ever, ever, EVER—untagged a photo of me at Facebook, ever. I’m not a vain person, where my photo is concerned. I figure, “Yup. That’s how that camera caught me at that moment, at that place. Not flattering, but that’s how that moment got captured. There ya go.” So, I had a bunch of photos to untag, starting February 2010, when I decided Zuckerberg would no longer datamine the hell out of me. Why did I untag? Well, even after my profile is gone, anywhere I exist on someone else’s page is fair game for Zuckerberg to sell off.
In February 2010, I deleted all of my work history, educational background, interests, and activities, because Zuckerberg turned all of those things into links to other people via community pages. Oh, and by “other people,” I mean “advertisers.” I already sign up at sites like Facebook with a junk email address I never use, my PO Box if an address is required, and Keith’s cell number, which is already out there. But now it was time to unplug from the places I may have forgotten I was connected. And with every untag, I would visualize an old-fashioned telephone operator pulling plugs from a wall of phone cables, letting ’em all retract back into the “off” position. Ah… disengage, disconnect, Scorched Earth Facebook.
Now, I already had a policy of defriending anyone who tagged me in a note, vid, or photo I wasn’t actually in. Yes, one of my least favorite uses of the Facebook by actors in particular was this ridiculous means of getting me to GO LOOK AT a headshot, a demo reel, an invitation to a show by TAGGING. And, of course, if I untagged, the actor knew I had been to the page, and would—if I didn’t leave a comment—come ask me what I thought of that headshot, that demo reel, that invitation to a show. The balls! And with nearly 5000 friends, you can imagine how often this little trick got used. Gross. Instant defriend.
So, because I already had that little policy in place, when I started getting wall posts from this stupid Commit To Vote app, defriending became easy. Well… not at first.
See, as I mentioned in the email to Colleen, I hadn’t decided how I was going to handle leaving Facebook once it came down to the very end. I mean, I still needed to maintain a fan page for me, for Somebody’s Basement, for Casting Qs, for Self-Management for Actors, and for Your Actor MBA. I also use the Facebook account as the primary means of communication between alumni and currently-enrolled actors and hyphenates in the Self-Management for Actors Seminar (AKA Class Rules!) as well as setting up monthly event invitations for Thirsty Third Thursday.
This is where that whole email to Colleen comes into play. Havi has this great thing she does where folks pay to have all access to her. And otherwise, they may or may not get access. Now, I don’t ever see me going that route (I mean, unless I’m hitting Oprah-levels of success, here), but I do see limiting certain avenues of connectivity to those I most want to have all access. (And that’s what Facebook is, by design. Don’t get me wrong—for all my grousing about the Facebook, it’s brilliant. I’ve grown so many relationships, learned so much, reached so many. And whenever I get upset, I just have to remember that we are not Zuckerberg’s customers; we are his PRODUCT. As long as I keep that in mind, I understand every decision he’s made—yes, even enabling PLACES by default or creating the clusterfuck that was “grouping” to replace “friend categories.” Heh heh. NAMBLA.)
So, as it now stands, the plan for Bonnie Gillespie’s 2011 Facebook is: Everyone who has ever taken the Self-Management for Actors Seminar and maybe selected non-Class Rules! folks who’ve attended Thirsty Third Thursday. These are already the most positive, funny, talented, amazing, fantastic, ridiculously good-looking people in my life. So, why not be surrounded by them, when I visit this place that sucks my time?
And whenever I have what I think would be a brilliant status update, why not expand it into a brilliant blog post or even a column topic? Or, it may still be just a tweet. But to stop thinking in terms of what’s “Facebookable,” imagine where my mind may go? Limitless!
I told the story (via several posts on Twitter) recently about giving up complaining for Lent. For those who’ve not read it, here it is, tweet by tweet.
Fun fact, @RENITACASTING, I’m not Catholic, but I started giving up complaining for Lent back in 1998. (Multi-tweet story coming up; cont’d) Thu Oct 21 10:26:08 2010 via Echofon
In 1997, I was on a field trip with other middle school teachers as chaperones (another part of my life, another story for another time) and Thu Oct 21 10:26:48 2010 via Echofon
…it was MISERABLE. Raining, sights scheduled to see with 60 whining 6th graders all closed due to bad weather, HORRIBLE vibe on the bus… Thu Oct 21 10:27:17 2010 via Echofon
and this one teacher NEVER complained. Not once. I asked, “How can you not agree with us about how CRAPPY this is?” She said, “I gave up… Thu Oct 21 10:27:44 2010 via Echofon
…complaining for Lent.” That stopped me in my tracks and I decided I would learn what this “Lent” thing was and do it myself the next yr. Thu Oct 21 10:28:06 2010 via Echofon
Sure enough, every year for over a decade now, I give up complaining for Lent. It’s the most peaceful, productive, happiest time of my life. Thu Oct 21 10:28:47 2010 via Echofon
Soon, I got a reply that made me get very clear on the whole Social Networking and Negativity thing. This is my reply/RT of it.
TRUE! Social networking brings grousing out. RT @jefbot: no complaining!? guess that means i’ll give up Twitter and Facebook for Lent, too. Thu Oct 21 10:59:39 2010 via Echofon
But that’s a good point. One of the criteria I used to defriend some folks, over the 2.2 years, was “spiritual noise.” If someone was just a non-stop Eeyore, I saw no need to keep signing up to read his stream. This is why I’m such a huge Twitter fan: No expectation of reciprocity. If you like what I have to say, you follow me. Done. I don’t have to follow you unless I like what YOU have to say. But at Facebook, because you want to see what’s going on in my world, I’m forced to see what’s going on in yours. And man have I learned that some of my nearest and dearest from years ago have changed into people I do not want to keep up with! Or, to be more accurate, I’ve learned that I have changed into someone who can no longer tolerate the noise of their grousing.
Life’s too short and I have too much cool stuff to do to sign up to eat negativity by the spoonful.
Yes, of course, I can hide people whose updates turn me off. I’ve done that. But psychically, they’re still there, right? Those people are still in my 1’s and 0’s and… why? That’s clutter. And I’m clutter-busting. Again.
Here are some tips from Jennifer Larson, who went on Facebook hiatus not too long ago. For those of us who are truly addicted, these are good tips for making it harder to supply yourself with the drug.
I went on a purposeful 30 day hiatus so that I could refocus my energy. It’s A-MAZING how much I got done when I wasn’t on FB. When I came back to it I deleted everything and friend-trimmed. Almost just closed it, but I do enjoy keeping up with my family members that I don’t get to see much. And I regulate my time SO much better now anyway.
I think the first thing that’s most important when unplugging: Get rid of ALL shortcuts, plug-ins, and saved logins/passwords for FB sharing on your browser. Get rid of all apps in your library on your computer and on your smartphone. Erase cookies, browser history, etc. Then I logged out completely.
I blogged while I was off (a habit I want to restart). My blog details some of the withdrawals symptoms and activities I took up. 🙂
I got a lot of writing done, personal relationships were built on, and my mind quieted down a bit.
Now that we’re in the heavy lifting part of Reverse Friending, what’s my criteria? Well, when I started defriending all those folks with the Commit To Vote app splashed all over my wall, as soon as I got back from the mini-break in Palm Desert, I came across a hard decision. One of the first people to go was a showrunner I respect. Deeply. He’s hilarious and brilliant and has been very supportive of actors I’ve put on his radar through the Cricket Feet Showcase, years back. And he’s funny and I like reading his stuff. So, as I hovered over the “remove from friends” link on his page, I paused.
But then I said, “Wait! By year-end, they’re all gone anyway, unless they’ve been in class. So… ¡adiós!” And I grabbed the info I wanted to keep from his INFO page (birthdate, email address, phone number—most of which I already have on many of these people; I do have over 14,000 contacts, after all—but for some folks, this is a good way to get newer email addresses than the ones I first received years ago when they first entered my contacts file) then pulled the plug. Gone. Done. NEXT.
Once I got rid of everyone who put that damn app on my page, I went through my inbox and got rid of almost everyone who sent me that stupid “I like it on the counter” purse meme for Breast Cancer Month. I say “almost everyone,” because I did keep a few people who entertain me. In fact, that’s been the fun—non-OCD, non-fairness-based—part of this process. As I defriend 100 or so people a day, from now ’til the end of the year, whenever I get that twinge of, “Oh, I like you,” before letting someone go, I say two things: “You’re all gonna go eventually,” and, “But is your day today?”
And if I’m entertained, amused, inspired by, or at all motivated to keep someone around who will be gone by year-end, that person gets to stay, as I go through and pull plugs from 4850 or so people. But it’s only temporary. Rest assured, by year-end, only the Class Rules!-ers and Thirsty Third Thursday-ers remain.
That feels like an exhale. It’s people I love, love, love spending time with every week (class) or every month (TTT) and that means I should love spending time with them online at the Facebook.
Folks who get to linger during the extraction just amuse me more. 😉 As a brilliant new friend (one I met through Facebook; yes, I get it), Barrett Garese suggested I say, “Just tell people—when they ask why you stopped following them (and they do ask), ‘You weren’t as entertaining as I’d hoped you’d be.'” Love it.
Oh, and for those who aren’t with me at Facebook after this, let us not forget that there’s Twitter, LinkedIn, er… MySpace and Friendster (kidding, although the profiles are still there), my column, Hollywood Happy Hour, Formspring, and now at my new and improved blog at BonnieGillespie.com. Oh, and there’s still the various “fan” pages I run (or whatever they’re calling them now) at the Facebook.
So, some folks have speculated that I’m defriending alphabetically. Nope. First, there’s the people who that stalker creep friended. That’s the list I’m still working through. Also, those who’ve spam tagged me in anything, posted an app, or asked me to participate in a meme along with a few hundred of their other closest friends. All negative nellies. All overly political, religious, or cause-oriented types. (I don’t need to see any preaching, ever.) Relatives I was never too excited to ever see again anyway, but Facebook made it too easy (and I wasn’t going to be the dick who said no, when asked to reconnect). Anyone who ever sent a message to a group of people and then managed to engage in one-on-one conversations with ONE of the 20 recipients of the mass message, in front of the rest of us. (Seriously, fascinating stuff. So nice seeing you two catch up with one another after all these years. *thud*) Anyone who posted his or her demo reel on MY wall. Anyone who ever put me on an event invitation and then immediately hit “message all guests” so that he or she could get into my inbox for an extra PUSH on that event invitation. Anyone whose page is filled exclusively with updates about whatever farming, gun-running, or pirate-shipping game they’re addicted to.
When I get bored with any of that, I hit HOME and see whose updates are showing up in my stream and not filling me with love. Out they go. Again, each person’s page gets opened up, I check their critical info and add it to my address book, updating their existing file 90% of the time. If they’re not in my address book and I can see no reason for them to get into it, it’s a quick disconnect. Of course, it’d be way quicker if I really, really didn’t care. I could just go to the master friends list and start hitting the little X next to each person, without even visiting his or her page (like I did for the “wannabes”). But that’s not my style. And it’s how I got into this mess in the first place. 😉 Newer friends get to stick around a bit, because I want to be sure they don’t think I friended them and then bailed. Want to be sure they see the status updates that pretty much count down to DONE over these next few weeks.
Another way I boot people is by hitting HOME and seeing the bank of changed photos. (Y’know: 15 people changed their profile photos? That thing.) And if I can’t figure out why I know you or need to know you, out you go. You and ten other people posted the same link? Well, that’s just redundant. I’ll pick my favorite of you and he/she can stay. For now. Remember, eventually, you all go. 🙂 Anyone whose page leads off with a status update that’s grammatically incorrect, you go FAST. Ooh, this feels so good. It’s like hunting for typos in a manuscript. I’m on a mission, now! Facebook Darwinism! And anyone who’s actively posting on my fan page, it’s cool to lose now, because you’re already working with me on a place I’m leaving “open.” Yay!
When that gets boring, I hit PROFILE and look at my own “top six” or whatever random six Facebook puts there. Anyone I’m ready to lose, out they go. If it’s an agent or manager or fellow casting director, actor I’ve cast, director or producer for whom I’ve cast something, etc., it takes more time, as I do want to be sure I’ve grabbed all key info from their profiles before breaking the connection. But whenever I feel that OCD kicking in—the part of me that wants to stay Hyper-Connected, and fairly, with everyone, always—I remind myself that I am very findable. I am very accessible. And it is not my JOB to make sure I can always find everyone, every minute.
Wanna help me? Do what the amazingly brilliant and supportive Dyana Valentine did after reading this missive: Send me a message with all your vital contact info (and your b’day, because I like to keep up with such things) and then defriend me. That’s badass. Great idea! Thank you, Dyana. And if you want to be sure you stay in, start coming to Thirsty Third Thursdays! There are two left in 2010. Come play!
I’m reminded, here, that I don’t use the phone. Like—outside of pitch calls and offer calls made only when I’m knee-deep in casting—I never use the phone. It’s a big deal when you see my number pop up on your caller ID, because I just don’t do the phone. Where that’s really fantastic—and where I’ve become most aware of how fantastic it is—is at restaurants, when out with other people. Take a look around, sometime. Watch how many people are on their gadgets while sitting across from real human beings that allegedly they enjoy spending time with, hence the in-person meet-up, rather than engaging, right there. Since mine’s not set up as a phone, when I’m with you, I am with you. And this unplugging will only help with that.
Those who want to be a part of what I’m putting “out there” online will come see me here at my blog. They’ll read my column. They’ll follow me at Twitter. Something. And if I need them, I need to trust I can find them. Facebook is just a tool. We were connected somehow before and we will be without it, now. Yes, it made things easy. But too easy, for me. I overdeveloped a muscle of being first to post something cool, wanting credit for things I shared first when others passed them along, attempting to introduce logic into discussions and debates folks were having (and I know better. Logic and the Internet rarely intersect well). I was less excited about the me I was becoming, thanks to social networking. And more protective of the me I was in the room, each week at class. THIS was the person who could find love in what she does and why she does it. THIS is the person I want to nurture. Not the “TOLDJA” mini-Nikki-Finke-me who lives online.
And the way to get back to that me, more often, is to leave the lovely Facebook behind—or at least limit it to interactions with the people who get to see me being the me I want most to be, in person, already. I guess I’m doing this to bring back the love to Facebook. To grow and nurture the creative communities I most adore. And the ripple beyond that is the one that exists at Hollywood Happy Hour and Twitter and my column and now, my blog, here. And the ripple beyond that… I’ll visit less often. Because any site I visit EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! needs to be one at which I have no chance of exploiting my own negativity. Miss Crabbypants needn’t come out anymore. (Unless I just need a nap, of course.) To become crabby because of anything going on, online? That’s silly. And too many of us live our lives influenced by the “tone” of an email, what we think someone means in a message board post, how annoyed we get because we believe someone’s status update is unimportant. Um… then don’t look at it.
Because I’m a “fixer,” I found it impossible to NOT look. I’d say, “Oh, hon, if that’s happening, try this… try that… here’s a solution.” And it’s not my job to go around doing that. Or rather, it is my job among those who pay me for solutions. 🙂 I think I’ll like myself a lot better when I save my unsolicited solutions for blog posts. I can be inspired by what I see—anywhere—and write something. I can collaborate and co-conspire with those in class who want to work out the kinks in something and help build a better Hollywood together. Think of the TIME I’ll have to engage real, live people, after this. I don’t need to engage online a person I may not even know in person, to try and “help.” It’s exhausting. And it’s taken the fun out of too much of the Internet. And as I mentioned up top, I do loves me some Internets.
This Facebook unplug is so I can continue to have that love. And then some.