Closing of the Cultivariable group on Facebook

The Cultivariable group on Facebook will close and I thought it was appropriate to take at least some of the discussion over here. For context, here’s what @bill wrote:

I will be leaving Facebook at the end of the month and, as a result, I will close down this group.

This has nothing to do with the group itself, which is something that I have enjoyed a great deal. In fact, it has kept me on Facebook longer than I otherwise would have remained.

Over the past few years, I have been cutting the ties between Cultivariable and big tech, because big tech is expanding at a rate that seems destined to consume all alternatives, eroding the free speech ethos of the Internet.

Facebook is an opportunity cost. Because it exists, is easy, and has great reach, I use it instead of developing alternatives, as we all do to some degree. I like the Facebook platform, but I don’t much like Facebook the company. While there is a cost to leaving, it is a cost that I can afford and perhaps can afford more easily now than in the future.

Facebook has an option to put a group on hold, so that it remains readable and can be taken out of mothballs in the future. That is the option that I will use, so you will still be able to come here and find old posts. That also means that I can change my mind and reopen the group if I later decide I have made a mistake.

The Cultivariable website has a forum and, if you want to keep having the kinds of discussions that we have here, I encourage you to join. I know that most of you won’t and I don’t fault you for that. That is the cost of leaving Facebook. Nothing else is as easy and comprehensive.

See you around the Internet, but not on Facebook.

Edit: None of this is intended to constitute any sort of judgement about anyone else’s choice or to persuade you to see the situation as I do. In fact, I assume that most people here like Facebook and have no intention of quitting it. I debated whether or not to give any reason at all for my choice, since I try to keep from inflicting my political views on my customers, but it would be weird to just shut down the group with no explanation.

For what it’s worth: I’ve considered this too and like many of the comments to that announcement have expressed, only stay on fb for the gardening groups. @bill 's announcement makes me consider again whether it’s worth it. Honestly, the quality on this site is going downwards with this company’s increasing attempts to create maximum interaction (because, is there anything as interactive as constant misunderstanding, redundancy and noise?). It’s also the worst kind of archive, I can never find the information I’m looking for. But then again, all that looking makes me spend more time on the site. We’re in a bit of a catch-22 with how the internet became dominated by “platforms” in the last fifteen years or so. They now have such a strong network effect that most attempts at an alternative becomes dissatisfying the moment it launches. Unless a critical mass jumps ship, you so often end up sitting in a half-empty room talking with a few other open-internet fanatics. Which perhaps is okay and as you say, might be worth it. But it creates this vicious circle, that I wonder how to escape from: as soon as people see those empty rooms, they’re less willing to jump ship. Maybe there are some gardeners who wish to not discuss any political issues, that’s okay, but there’s no way around the fact that we have a coordination problem. It’s clear that there’s a lot of gardeners who are just here for the gardening content. Which is a start, because then we don’t need an alternative to Facebook (in the all-encompassing way where holiday pictures, silly tiktoks and articles about war all awkwardly sit in the same feed). Many gardeners would rather let go of that part, if there was some way to connect enough of us by other means. This is why I do appreciate you making the effort to explain your decision, because it creates an opportunity to have some of that conversation.

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I knew that I would lose contact with almost every member of the FB group, which is certainly a high price to pay. Very few will join here and few of those will remain to contribute. But, if I continue to add content here for as long as I did on the FB group, people will join and contribute and the forum will grow. It will probably never have one tenth the active membership the the FB group did, but that’s OK. I will also retain control of my content and search engines will bring people to Cultivariable instead of to Facebook. I will be talking to myself a lot, but probably not forever. It takes time and consistency and the lack of any easier alternatives as well. Or, I could be wrong and will be mostly talking to myself forever. It is possible that I will someday decide that the experiment didn’t work and that it is time to rejoin social media, but I am awfully happy to be off of it, which is really the biggest gain for me.

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Makes a lot of sense and inspires me too.

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Hey I did a similar jump a few years ago. It’s a hard decision and while I’m happy I did it, it causes no end of trouble with group interactions, since every group organizer thinks everybody has facebook… I’ve found I can get a decent amount of people to talk to me through stuff like element or signal though, but I always feel like the weird tech vegan haha.

Good on you for supporting the decentralisation and demonetization of our interactions.

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