I guess I’m stupid.
That’s right. Me. Your humble copywriter. Busy making really really poor decisions. At least, that’s what some people will tell me when they hear that I’ve decided not to market my business on Facebook or Google+.
Oh, and that’s not all. I’ve actually deleted my profiles completely – personal profiles included. They don’t exist anymore. Seriously, try and find ‘em.
To many, the very idea that someone in the Internet/Web content/digital marketing space would voluntarily remove himself not only from the world’s most popular social network, but also from what’s arguably the Web’s most important social network for SEO will seem utterly preposterous. Preposterous and stupid.
But that’s what I’ve decided to do, and here’s why.
Giving Facebook and Google the boot
Know what? Privacy is a good thing. And I’m not just talking about closing the door when you go to the bathroom or not telling your boss who you vote for in elections.
I’m talking about not sharing intimate details about your personal life with powerful people who care very little about you, but who care a lot about finding ways to use your tastes and interests to make money.
I’m talking about not voluntarily publishing your whereabouts at any given moment, allowing satellites to track your every move, or handing over your human autonomy to an organization whose sole mission is to violate it.
Because that’s exactly what you do with a Facebook or Google account. Every. single. day.
We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like. ~Eric Schmidt, former Google Chief Executive, September 2010
If you don’t think that sounds scary, go enjoy a brave new world.
Look, I’m not going to make this a thesis about social networks and privacy concerns. Others have already done it ad nauseum, and most of us are aware that it’s an issue. I’ve simply decided that I, on principle, will minimize my acquiescence to the world of privacy invasion.
How am I doing this? By dissolving my connections (as much as possible) to the two companies to which I have, for many years, unthinkingly handed over countless bytes of personal, identifying data: Facebook and Google.
Deleting Facebook was easy. Leaving Google, however, has been a little trickier. I’ve been a Google Apps customer since Green Ink Creative had the rather unimaginative name “Adam Green Media,” and I was a Gmail user long before that. Over the last month or so, I’ve been gradually severing the ties that bind me to Google and its profusion of applications – Mail, Calendar, Reader, Drive, etc.
I’ve even found a good alternative to Google Search that doesn’t record any identifying information about users. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in the services I’m using to replace Google’s watchful eyes. Believe it or not, there are responsible business app providers out there who don’t make a habit of spying on you.
The only two social networks on which I’ll remain active are LinkedIn and Twitter. That’s not because I think they care more about my privacy than Google or Facebook. Trust me, I’m not that naive.
It’s just that I’ve used those services almost exclusively for professional communications and rarely use them to share anything other than helpful links about marketing, digital media, and copywriting – similar to the stuff I write about here, and none of it personal.
So… what are the consequences?
Well, they’ll be good and bad. By abstaining from Google and Facebook – and using browser extensions to block those companies’ tracking bots used on others’ sites – I’ll be able to be somewhat more secure in my Internet use.
For better or worse, I will have to maintain a Gmail email address “on the side” so I can work with my clients who use Google Drive. Thankfully, I’ll only have to use that app for business communications and only very rarely. I can access it on a separate browser, too.
I’ll also have to keep on top of things in the search engine/SEO space as my work still has what I’d call a slightly more than tangential connection to that “world.”
All that being said, the biggest negative consequences of my decision will be:
- Not being able to market my business with Facebook and Google+, and
- Looking like a hater within an industry that’s freakishly enamored with those two companies.
That’s ok, though. I never wanted to be a social media celebrity or anything. I don’t even need everyone in my field to like me or think I’m smart. I just want to make a respectable living doing work that helps people. Nothing more.
So far, I’ve been able to make that happen using this blog, connecting with people on Twitter and LinkedIn, and producing all-around excellent work for clients. And that last point is the most important one, I think. No matter how many “likes” I get on Facebook, doing great work will generate repeat business and referrals. Every time.
I’m also well aware of the SEO “consequences” of not using Google+. I’m aware of them, and I don’t care.
After all, as anyone in the digital marketing space will tell you, the content that gets shared the most is the best, most useful, most compelling content. So if my content is the snazziest around, it will make its way to Google+ and Facebook, right?
Right. Sure it will. Sometimes. As long as the Web marketing gurus believe what they preach (and if they’re right), I’m destined for my fair “share” of Google+ attention somewhere down the line.
But one thing I won’t do is sell my personhood for money, fame, convenience, or narcissism. If that sounds harsh or accusatory, I wish I could find a way to put it more mildly. Unfortunately, I can’t. This is something I believe in quite strongly, so I’ve decided not to mince my words.
By the way, not logging into Facebook every day is pretty damn liberating. I suggest you give it a shot. I’ll leave you with this:
There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution. ~Aldous Huxley, 1962