Category Archives: Lifehacking

We Don’t Need Facebook

Facebook has given privacy a kick in the groin. If this is news to you, you should probably check out:

Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative [Wired]


Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook [Gizmodo]


Facebook Further Reduces Your Control Over Personal Information [EFF].

Longer than the Constitution
FB Privacy Policy: Longer Than the Constitution

Those who’ve been watching the plucky start-up were already aware that Facebook is mired in accusations that it was founded by a crook and funded by a nut and some gooks. Into this fray comes Facebook’s controversy over their privacy settings. It used to be that Facebook provided a space that was just for friends and family. “Just” as in “only.” As in, not public.

The new privacy settings even led to a movement last month to have a “Quit Facebook Day.” Even if you manage to tackle FB’s labyrinth of privacy settings, don’t use any apps, or never use FacebookConnect you still can’t control what happens when your friends fail to make their stuff private. You can’t stop Facebook from censoring your messages. Even if we all flock back to Myspace or Friendster or Tribe [or Whatever] we have no guarantee that that data won’t be given away. It would probably be wise to consider anything hosted on a faraway computer you can’t control as potentially public, even email. At the very least we should commit to using sites that have consistent and reasonable privacy policies (thus the total opposite of Facebook [1][2]).

But entrusting Facebook is clearly no longer the way to go. Here’s why. In my myriad conversations about this issue, I get one of three responses:

"I don't care who sees my data"“I don’t care about who sees my data or my friends’ data. I posted it so anyone could see it.”

This person shouldn’t be on Facebook. There are much better public sites that do everything Facebook does but better and more beautifully (more on that later).

“Privacy isn’t a big deal to me but there are some things I’d like to put online that I don’t want the whole world to see.” "I'm not super-concerned about privacy."

This person shouldn’t be on Facebook. These are the people Facebook seeks to confound with their myriad privacy on-off switches, e.g. most of us. Because these folks aren’t too concerned about most of what we put out there, we won’t be meticulous about making sure everything is set to private. We won’t think of our Facebook stream as a blog  for all the world to see and eventually we will accidentally post something that will get us embarrassed, fired, divorced or deported.

“privacy is very important to me. I only want to share stuff with my friends.”

This person shouldn’t be on Facebook. Because this person cares about privacy. If anything, they should be boycotting Facebook. Wake up: Facebook wants our info to be public so they can make more money on their ads. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted he’s ok with the whole thing being confusing because he doesn’t believe in privacy.

"I want my stuff to stay private."

Oh the outrage!

But alas,  Quit Facebook Day has come and gone and your account still remains. Don’t feel too bad…so does mine.

Now that Facebook has decided to make it standard to share people’s stuff, why are we still using Facebook? Simple: because no matter how much better the other sites are, Facebook is where the people are. But having all the people didn’t stop Myspace fom sinking or Friendster before it. We just need a critical mass of people to join these other sites and Facebook will be history.

The thing is: we don’t need Facebook! Even if Facebook were offering a reasonable privacy policy there are much better sites. And here’s the good news! They all allow automatic posting to Facebook. For those of us not boldly motivated enough to quit Facebook, we can follow our friends on these sites while automatically sending updates to those still lost in the land of blue and white status updates. Eventually these sites (which are all still relatively new) will grow full of enough users that we can all jump ship.

“But,” I hear you asking, “what are these wondrous websites?” Patience, dear reader, for you have discovered the subject of page two…

Continue reading We Don’t Need Facebook

Stomping on the Embers of 2009


While many will bravely take their birthday spankings, no secular ritual seems to incite more whining than that of the New Year’s Resolution. Those who do not participate do so with scorn and derision, you can almost see the spit fly from their lips with their ready quip about why they are better than such a ritual. Others list their resolutions with the temerity of a spurned lover waiting by the phone. For a ritual that more of my friends participate in than Christmas Mass, I can’t name anyone who actually likes New Year’s Resolutions.

Well I like them.

Yes, I understand that the first of the year is a totally arbitrary date. So what? So is Christmas. If you want to set goals in June, no one is going to complain. The problem is that most of us don’t. We hem and haw about how we don’t have any time and then another years slips by and our dreams sit in a tin box with our VHS tapes and our old photos and the rest of the things we never touch. They become memories, archival.

Whether it is arbitrary or not, the turning of a calendar year is end and beginning of a cycle, as much as the turn of the day into night or Spring into Fall. For us humans, the winter is our time of greatest hardship. It is cold. Food is scarce. The landscape is barren. It is why in this season we gather and feast. It is why we worship and *decorate mighty trees that leap inexplicably higher year after year, without death touching their leaves. It is also the time when the sticker shock of that big increase hits you: wait, 2010 is the end of the decade? Didn’t we just have the Millennium? Wasn’t that, like, yesterday?

Thus it is natural for us to think about the struggles we’ve faced and, in turn, where our life is headed. If looking at all the shit we didn’t get done last year doesn’t make us want to strategize about what to get done next year then I don’t know what will. We have made it through the dark heart of winter and spring promises new beginnings. You can have a say in what those beginnings will look like, or you can be one of those people who lets life happen to you.


I know, I know: now you are going to tell me that no one ever sticks with their New Year’s Resolutions for more than a few weeks. But if indeed we are so undisciplined that we only choose novel-writing, house cleaning and smoothie drinking over chain smoking, hooker shopping and pimple popping for several weeks a year than perhaps we should welcome even that brief period of accomplishment. And every time we fall off the wagon we have to put our panties back on, take two Excedrin, and hop back on it. Or rather, climb awkwardly up its wretched timbre, ignoring the hangovers of our chosen vice, cursing the splinters that imperil our ascent to righteousness. There’s no need to go all Amy Winehouse on our lives just because we suck at setting goals.

If anything, the problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that we need to spend more time on them, not less. We would all have shinier skin and resumes if April showers brought May resolution evaluations. The longest day of summer should be celebrated as a massive deadline crossing, wherein we get as much done in that day as we can, before dividing what’s left of our goals in half and throwing ourselves into renewed commitment. This occasion is marked by running through red tape, like winning a race, but we all get a turn. We may eat little white cakes with red check marks, and we are only allowed as many as there are achievements completed. When the fall trees lose their leaves, we should have a holiday for the slashing of our goals, a year-end-overstock-going-out-of-business sale for our annual To Do list. It would be celebrated by dressing like Used Car Salesmen and wishing people, “Act Now!”

Then when Santa’s checking his list, we already know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. And as the year’s end encroaches, we can see that the birth of the New Year is a cause for celebration. Because, arbitrary or not, history is about to put a great big lock on the filing cabinet of 2009 and that knowledge puts a gravitas on those of us who haven’t quite gotten our homework done. And isn’t it appropriate that the lightness of the foundling 2010 should be counter-balanced with commitments to all we hope this year should grow up to become? Who we are in 2009 has just become Who We Once Were. And 2010 is completely open, can only be defined as Who We Will Be. For those of us who look back in regret, it is an official chance for renewal. Either way, the looking back and forward is healthy, and to be encouraged. For those who accomplished much, we celebrate but, the old year being deceased, we are not allowed the humbrage of resting on our laurels. Instead, we collect our laurels along with our unfinished lists in a mighty heap, for everyone has at least one to contribute. Then we eulogize ourselves, burying the old with a baptism of alcohol poisoning, feasting, excess, and yes, fire: our laurels and our To Do lists will make such a beautiful bonfire, and the ashes, ink and rose petals must be trampled under our dizzy dancing feet.

2 Songs for the New Year:

*Thus cutting down a Christmas Tree is a sacrilege, like killing a Jew to celebrate Easter.