The Friendster Apocalypse

My wife and I met on Friendster back in the winter of 2003-2004. Then we moved onto MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter. And there we finally settled, like homesteaders headed further and further west until they said, “There it is.”

Imagine where you met the girl of your dreams. It was likely a place in the real world, one that you might occasionally visit.

Now imagine that place disappearing, and the memory of it fading into the ether of history. That’s what happened to ours four years ago today.

Friendster has long been a shell of its former self, but in 2003 it was announced anything related to its current form was about to go bye-bye. Time for everyone to log into their accounts and preserve their memories, we were told. So I did.

I logged into my account for the first time since November 2006 (I’m sure this coincides with Facebook opening its doors to the non @*.edu blessed). Not much was there anymore.

Sure there were some grainy photos, but nothing I didn’t already have a copy of elsewhere.

There were connections with other profiles. A good majority of them were to people I don’t speak with anyone or even connect with on other services. They’re friends who are now strangers. It’s amazing how your social circles change in just a decade.

Finally, there were tons of messages, 118 in fact, sent by all sorts of random people — or “people” — desperate to connect online.

However, I stuck with the messages, digging for the most-important one of my life. And there it was, dated 1/14/2004. It was the first thing I ever said to my future wife:

Subject: Nice Backpack
Contents: I sense that it should be holding fish instead of markers. Either that, or fantastically-powerful fuel that powers what is actually your top-secret jet pack. Either way…howdy!

And thankfully she responded this this stranger and decided to marry him & have two beautiful kids.

R.I.P. Friendster. Thanks for helping make me the happiest man on earth.

Social Media Lent 2015

iPhone 5 Desktop
Before (Fat Tuesday) and After (Ash Wednesday)

It’s that time of year again, where I feel compelled to fuckitall and run away from the world.  Lent is an ideal time to turn inward, to focus on health both spiritual and physical.  And this time around, I’m in desperate need to take care of myself.

I’ve neglected Matthew for many months, as the demands of both work and family have sapped my energy reserves.  I want to reduce distraction and make the daytime hours productive and meaningful.

Therefore, I’m repeating my abstinence from four years ago and disavowing my favorite social media platforms.  I’m temporarily retiring from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and using that time to focus on improvement: to read real books instead of link-bait, to work out my body instead of letting it go fallow on my comfy couch, to look at the people around me instead of those in my feed.

The one exception I’m making relates to this blog.  Recently, I joined a weekly post challenge group on Facebook, with the intent to gain some inspiration from fellow bloggers and rekindle my love for writing.  I’ll still work on weekly blog posts, and I’ll still cross-post to that Facebook group.  But otherwise, I’ll be silent.

I’m no Luddite.  I know I’ll return to social media full-time — it’s where my closest friends reside these days, all of whom I’ll miss these next several weeks.  Besides, I’m not giving up text messaging and email, so y’all know where to find me.

Peace be with you, as I hope it is always with me.

Political Sabbatical

Everyone Poops by ThreadlessFor the next three months, I’m done with politics.

Specifically, I’m done with everyone else’s politics. I imagine that most of you feel the same.

I’ll still have my opinions, philosophies, favorite publications, and admired politicans. I’ll continue to educate myself before the upcoming general election. I already know who I’ll vote for, but I’ll be interested in learning all the reasons I shouldn’t.

But when it comes to political “debate”, with friends and family, in the real world or online, I desperately need a break. That’s because “debate” seems dead, especially all of the name-calling that littered my Facebook Wall today. The roles I play in life — father, worker, athlete, husband, artist, consultant — consume all of my available oxygen, so something has to fall off my plate.

It’s an easy decision to make. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become calcified in my beliefs. I’m much the same person politically as I was 20 years ago when I first voted (for Ross Perot, BTW). I would like to think I expose myself to a variety of opinions. An example of proof is in who I follow on Twitter, the land where you can pick your friends but you cannot pick their noses. And I’m willing to put myself in other’s shoes, as it challenges my beliefs to the point of abandonment or ratification. But I find it hard to believe I’ll ever change who I am in the core, and that guides my politics.

But those around me are just as set in their ways as myself. Discussions are less debates (with possibility of persuasion and enlightenment) than arguments (e.g. big balls of stress). I’ve hidden more people this year on my Facebook timeline than I have in the previous four. It’s easier to keep following people on Twitter, because the character limitation makes it hard for messages to be too obnoxious. But I don’t want to keep ignoring people, especially my closer friends and family — but I will if it means I can “take back the night” and control my online experience.

Instead of piecemeal hiding or un-following, I considered a social media sabbatical like I’ve done before, and others are contemplating. But remember the whole stress thing? Facebook-stalking people and snarking with my peeps on Twitter have been my prime avenues of release for several years, so I’m not about to give them up anytime soon.

As a result of my natural sharing tendencies (those Facebook Like buttons are so shiny!), you might occasionally see me post something on Facebook or Twitter with a political bent. To ensure it’s clear, I do this not to prosthelytize but to share things I truly find interesting; in fact, I’d argue that I’m good about sharing multiple sides of many stories, despite the well-known fact I’m liberal in my beliefs. And if people comment on those posts, they’re welcome to go to town with one another. Just not me.

Anyway, talk amongst yourselves. Just don’t include me until life affords me the opportunity to re-engage and electively stress myself out.

Photo credit: Chris Lee Jones/Threadless

Social Media Lent 2011

So…what did I miss?

Forty days ago, just one minute into Ash Wednesday, I sent my last Tweet and visited my Facebook Wall for the final time. My blog, already idle up to then, became further caked in dust thanks to my neglect. Lenten season was upon us, and I was beginning my abstinence from all forms of social media.

No more Twitter. Goodbye Facebook! Au revoir, Foursquare. See ya later, Instagram.

So, how’d it turn out?


Continue reading “Social Media Lent 2011”