Dear friends, fans, and possible bots:
Ever since I got on the web in 1996, I have thought of online spaces as something special. They are a democratic source of information, a space open to everyone with a browser and online access. For good or ill, anyone can post anything on the internet.
This was the space where I really became a writer. It was the first time I could experience having someone who wasn’t a teacher or a girlfriend read the stuff that came out of my brain. I had a tiny, tiny audience who liked my musings on life in my tiny corner of Southern California. That time on the web cemented the notion that my calling was not to be a computer programmer, but to be a writer, by God.
I had doubts about Facebook when it appeared. After all, if anyone wanted to publish stuff about their lives, they could just use blogs, right? MySpace had appeared and imploded, as had countless other spaces. Facebook would likely implode, and we’d be back to making personal websites.
This has not happened. Facebook has expanded to the point where it has become the web, and that democratization that I loved so much in 1996 has been supplanted by The Algorithm. To be on Facebook is submit to what Facebook thinks you want to see. The experience is not your own. The things you post may never appear in the timelines of your friends and families. My wife can post a picture of our daughter, and it won’t appear on my timeline because Facebook doesn’t think it’s relevant to my interests. I can see some random person I met once at a party dozens of times in a day, but not my own family.
This is my rambling way of saying that I am going to end my presence on Facebook by the end of this year. I can’t use it to communicate with you the way I would to communicate with you. I have to pay to boost posts. I have to pray that The Algorithm will let my ramblings show up in your timeline. And, man, let’s not get started with all this bullshit about Russia buying political ads to put yet another thumb on the scale in favor of the Fascist-In-Chief. Jesus, if we can get through the next couple of years without getting into a shooting war with China, Russia, or, at this point, Canada, we’re going to have to have a serious look at ourselves and how we conduct our online lives.
Every week for the next nine weeks, I’ll post a reminder that I’m ending my professional page and others dedicated to my books. How I extricate myself from my personal postings, I’ll have to sort out. If you’ve liked what I wrote, you can sign up for my mailing list. With any luck, I’ll have writing news to write about soon.
Thank you for your time and attention.