Facebook, Get Outta My Pants

[tweetmeme source=”sarahockler” only_single=false]For the past few months, I’ve been seriously re-thinking this whole social network thing. Through the Web, I’ve met a lot of great people I otherwise wouldn’t know, and I’m grateful. And I’m still planning to use the Internet to keep in touch, to post blogs, to e-mail, to learn about books, to chat with readers, to find stuff. But today, after reading about Facebook’s Crusade of Colonization and being forced to opt out of yet another shady invasion of privacy thinly disguised as a service, I’ve finally decided to dump the world’s biggest social imperialist.

Because you know what Facebook is?

Facebook is that really cute guy at the party who’s sooo charming… because he wants to get into your pants. If you don’t give him some outright, he acts all sweet, like he’s super into you, promising you the world. If you still don’t let him in, he steps up his game — first feeding you beer, then kissing you and telling you how beautiful you are, how soft you are, how he can’t live without you (tonight). Then, as a last desperate resort, he reminds you that all of your other friends and the most popular people already let him into their pants, so if you want to be popular (or even liked), you’d better do the same.

Well, I’m done with that.

Facebook, you need to get your grubby corporate paws up outta my virtual pants, okay? And if a straight “NO” isn’t good enough for you, here’s a really long bunch of reasons to which you may refer later if you find yourself thinking wistfully about our former relationship, wondering why I’m long gone.

Why I’m Dumping Facebook

I deactivated my Facebook account! Indefinitely! I really did it. So if you’re looking for me there or wondering if I’m shunning you or something, I’m not. I’m shunning the software. I’m shunning Personal Relationships.com Inc. a Limited Liability Company.

–Sara Zarr, in her recent post on deleting her Facebook, Calvin Report + Facebook saga reaches a final (?) end.

It’s going to take me about 1500 words to say what Sara captures so perfectly in one paragraph, both because I’m an over-explainer by nature and because I’m hoping maybe some of this might encourage those of you who are considering your own FB breakup.

Here goes…

  1. Facebook Kills Relationships: By automating interaction, Facebook takes the “relate” out of “relationship.” More than any other online service I use, it has become the great homogenizer. FB is so eager to categorize and box everyone in, track everyone’s relationships and personal tastes, follow your actions, tell you who to invite or reconnect with… it’s downright unnatural! All of my FB interactions feel exactly the same now — a gray blur of likes, dislikes, newsfeeds, and a never-ending campaign of blocking invites to spam sites that call themselves games.

    “But Sarah, Facebook makes it easier to connect and communicate!” Um, no it doesn’t. Facebook simply makes it so you don’t have to connect and communicate. Why make the effort to call someone to invite her to your birthday party when you can just make a Facebook invite? Why share a photo album of the kids with their grandparents when you can just post it for everyone to see on Facebook? Why spend the afternoon with a friend talking about what’s going on in your lives when you can just read about it in your Facebook status updates? When relationships can be managed online, when everyone becomes a blue and white screen dotted with icons and brief little witty bits, why even leave the house at all? “Connecting” seems effortless on Facebook because it is effortless, and that’s not a good thing when it comes to relationships — even virtual ones.

  2. Public Life & Private Life Don’t Always Mix: I initially used FB primarily to share news and info about my books and to connect with teen readers, librarians, and other authors online. In that way it was kind of a marketing tool, but because I write and I love what I do, “marketing” really just means “talking honestly about the stuff I love.” So online, am I marketing, or am I relating? Am I selling, or am I connecting? I don’t know anymore. And then, I also used FB with my family, my friends in real life, and people from high school. I don’t want friends and family to be bombarded and overwhelmed with all my book stuff (especially if they already heard all about it in person), and I also don’t want teen readers or librarians watching my family members argue or overshare on my FB wall. See? It’s all getting so multiple personality disorder-ish! It’s like trying to seat people at a wedding where the bride and groom’s parents are all divorced and remarried. I’m like, why didn’t we just elope?!
  3. Drama & Negativity Are Rampant on FB: And boy, are they toxic. I’m so tired of learning about divorces, fights, bad news, and even positive big events that used to be shared in person (new relationships, new babies, moves) in the lives of family and friends via Facebook (and getting in trouble when I don’t hear about these things because the little blip just didn’t turn up in my newsfeed among the thousands of other blips posted that day). I’m tried of reading about everyone joining “I hate this and that” groups or “I bet we can beat that group” groups or “Raise your hand if you thinks so-and-so looks like a cow” groups. I’m tired of cyberbullying. I’m tired of having to police my wall to make sure no one posts anything inappropriate or personal. These days, logging into Facebook just makes me feel… bad.
  4. Data Aggregation is Creepy: Facebook is a corporation. That means their primary business is not to entertain or serve us, but to make money. They don’t charge users for the site, and there aren’t many ads. So how do you think they turn a profit? By selling our information — information that we freely give, often without even realizing it (like those little “get to know your friends” questionnaires or “tell everyone how we met” status updates — yes, it’s all mined for info).

    Think about how much personal information you share on FB. Photos, birthdays (even if you don’t post it, your friends might still wish you a happy day on your wall!), pets names, anniversary dates, school names and grad years, job info, travel plans, interests, hobbies, where you are, where you’re going, who you like, what you like, who you’re friends with, your relatives, what sites you visit… all the stuff passwords are made of. All the stuff your life is made of. All worth mega-money to advertisers and marketers who seek to define and label you so that they can sell you stuff you don’t need, convincing you that if you don’t buy it, you’ll be missing out (or worse — that you’re somehow less of a person). Sound like that aggressive boy at the party?

    Despite the marketing-speak all over their blog, Facebook is not there to help people “share what’s important to them,” to “put people at the center of the web,” to provide “more social and personalized experiences on other websites” as we “build the social web” together. No. We are a commodity — nothing more. Our information is a commodity. We are dollar signs. It’s that simple. And I went into our relationship knowing as much; I was willing to be that dollar sign as a trade-off for using the free service. But now, especially with their latest “social plugins” move that will enable them to essentially track our every move on the Web, it’s just too creepy for me.

  5. And This Stuff Just Makes Me Mad: You’re telling me that a company like Facebook comes along and in a matter of just a few years, integrates 500 million users from all over the globe, linking them up based on likes and dislikes and fan pages and status updates and mutual friends, partnering with other services like Twitter, WordPress, FourSquare, ShareThis, Goodreads, major news and entertainment sites, and consumer sites, generating targeted ads and “like” suggestions based on each individual profile, helping to build this so-called wonderful social web where I can instantaneously notify thousands of “friends” that I “like” Lady Gaga or Pringles Sour Cream Chips, but the health care system in this country can’t come together on standards for personal electronic health records that would reduce medical errors and deaths and save billions of dollars? You’re telling me that with all this miraculous technology, airlines are still overbooking flights and assigning two people the same seat? Do you think this is accidental? Give me a break.
  6. Time: This last reason isn’t Facebook. It’s me. I need more time to go outside. To exercise. To write. To have real actual conversations and relationships. Hey, I just want those hours (and the privacy) of my life back, okay?

So that’s it, Facebook. We are over.

For all of my friends on Facebook, over the next week or so, you’ll see me transitioning off my personal page. I’ll still post book updates on the book fan page if I can figure out a way to do it without using the personal page (otherwise, that one is going, too!).

[tweetmeme source=”sarahockler”]Like Sara Zarr said, don’t take it personal. I’m not shunning you. I’m not even going offline — you’ll still find me here, on Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, other random places — I’m just keeping myself (and my pants) away from Facebook.

New Moon Review by Dad Ockler

Last night we visited my parents, and for some reason, perhaps alcohol and a lasagna-induced food coma were key factors, Dad agreed to stay up past his bed time to watch NEW MOON with us. He hadn’t seen the first TWILIGHT, and while I’m sure the books are somewhere on his TBR list under all that Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, he hasn’t gotten to them yet. So I gave him like the thirty second summary and then we got to watching NEW MOON, appropriately subtitled TAYLOR LAUTNER’S ABS: A BRIEF BUT COMPELLING HISTORY.

Together with Pet Monster and Snickers the family beagle, we watched one point eight minutes of Edward and two hours of Jacob’s abs. Here’s the unedited, unscripted conversation that followed.

  • Me: So Dad, are you team Edward or team Jacob?
  • Dad: Team who or team what?
  • Me: Edward or Jacob. Edward is the vampire, Jacob the werewolf. Which team are you?
  • Dad: *blinks*
  • Me: Dad, I need to know so I can order you the right shirt. Are you team Edward or team Jake?
  • Dad: *blinks*
  • Me: Well?
  • Dad: I’m team Going to Bed.

So there you have it. Dad’s official NEW MOON review. Sure, he acted all “I’m team going to bed, rawr!” but I just know he ran upstairs and added TWILIGHT to his Netflix queue. I mean, you can only watch ROAD HOUSE so many times, Dad.

Thank You For An Incredible 2009!

Happy New Year, friends and fellow book lovers!

I’m back from my little unplanned blog/social network/online communication hiatus (unplanned hiatus sounds better than procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness, and too-busy-eating-holiday-chocolate-ness which is closer to the truth of it) and ready to make a whole bunch of promises (which may or may not hold up) about being a better blogger this year.

But instead of documenting all my lofty and unlikely resolutions, I’d rather use my slightly overdue 2010 inaugural post to thank all of you for giving me such an amazing, unforgettable year. You’ve welcomed me and Twenty Boy Summer into the world with love, encouragement, and unending enthusiasm, and I couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular debut.

Though I sold Twenty Boy Summer in late 2007, seeing it on the shelves in the summer of 2009 is what made it real. What made me understand that yes, I really did get to achieve this dream. Deep down, I know that what brought it to fruition wasn’t magic—it was hard work and perseverance and dedication (and a bit of neurotic desperation, if you really want to know). But walking into my local book stores and seeing something I created sitting on the shelves alongside the works of authors I’d admired for years—well, it sure felt like magic to me.

I will never forget that day or any of the days and weeks that followed. I will never forget decorating cupcakes to match my book cover and eating them with friends and family until my tongue turned blue at my launch party. I will never forget meeting some of my favorite “veteran” YA authors at ALA, NCTE, and ALAN. I will never forget the camaraderie I found among fellow authors in the 2009 Debutantes community. I will never forget the support I received from my home town media, schools, bookstores, and librarians. I will never forget the dedication and hard work of my agent and the entire team at Little, Brown. I will never forget all of the reader emails and blog comments and waking up on my launch day to find this surprise video making the rounds (and yeah, I still get all choked up when I watch it):

Okay. On second thought, I guess it really was magic. All of these moments, all of these events, all of you made 2009 truly magical for me. And for that, I thank you.

I’ve no better way to show my gratitude than to keep writing, to keep pushing myself creatively, to keep telling stories and sharing them with you. So that’s what I intend to do. In 2010, I’m looking forward to the paperback release of Twenty Boy Summer in May, followed by the hardcover release of my second YA novel, Fixing Delilah Hannaford, in the fall (for now, check out an excerpt online). I’m also working on a few new projects, which promise to be… well… nerve-wracking, as usual! I can’t make any reliable promises about this blog, but I can promise that as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Books. Blogs. Napkin poetry. However I can get the words out to tell those stories.

Happy new year, friends and loved ones, librarians and booksellers, bloggers and teachers, readers of all genres. Here’s to an incredible, exciting, peaceful, happy, successful, magical, dreamy, fabulous, prosperous, healthy, and just plain ol’ good 2010.

Christmas Pajama Breakfast: The Birth of Embarrassing Traditions

In my family, you’re never too old for matching pajamas on Christmas morning (and you’re never safe from Mom’s carefully planned pajama theme, no matter how new you are to the Ockler family scene).

It started quite accidentally, way back in the eighties…

Read the whole tale at Reading is Bliss, complete with photographic evidence and a contest to win a hardcover copy of Twenty Boy Summer!

Today’s Post Brought To You By: Love!

I’m crawling out of the cave of revisions again to share a little love with the world because hey, it’s fall in upstate New York, the heat is on, I’ve got a hot cup of tea, I’m wearing my fuzzy slippers, and life is good! Especially for some of our friends that got married this month — two couples in as many weeks. One wedding, we photographed professionally. The other, we just ran around taking pictures for fun while appearing to be professional, which is tough to do. And though I have to duck back into the cave in a moment, I want to share a shot from each wedding with you in honor of all that love I’m talking about!

For my friend, Amybeth:

I’ve known Amybeth for about twenty years. She was hands down the coolest girl at summer camp, and she’s still pretty much the coolest lady I know. It was an honor and a joy to photograph her wedding. So here’s one of my favorite shots from the day — totally accidental. I’d lowered my camera to adjust a setting when I noticed the groom dropping the bride for a dip, so I quick hit the shutter button and hoped for the best. I just love the expressions on their faces!

First Dance

For my friend, Steve:

Steve is literally “the boy next door” — my old childhood pal. My family lived in the house on the left side of his house for a few years, then we moved to the house on the right. I was excited to celebrate his wedding with our families — we’ve all known each other more than 30 years! Anyway, during the cake cutting, apparently someone (*cough* the GROOM *cough*) didn’t get the memo about the no-smashing-cake-in-the-face thing. His bride was not happy. In fact, some of us began to wonder whether Steve might end sleeping on the couch at the honeymoon suite! But when repeated apologies proved ineffective, he just grabbed her and shut her up with a big fat smooch. Again, one of my favorites from the day!

Cake Memo

Congratulations to all, and best wishes for a lifetime of happiness and love!

Speaking of families and love… I’m wrapping up the final revisions on Fixing Delilah, my second book, due out next fall from Little, Brown. I’ll be sharing more about it soon, but for now… it’s a story about families, about mothers and daughters, the secrets we carry, the things that tear us apart as well as unite us, and of course, love. Stay tuned for more details next week!

For now, happy fall and lots of hot tea, wedding cake, fuzzy slippers, and love to you all!