I'm starting to hate social networking websites in general. I enjoy using my computer a lot more when I'm the one deciding what to do with it without the constant unsolicited advice about what I should be reading or investigating from all of my "friends". Unsolicited messages are called spam when they come via email, but signing up on a social networking site is essentially "opting in" to updates from everyone you "friend".
A quick aside: I also don't like using a word which is obviously a noun in this idiomatic way (as a verb). At the least couldn't they have used the archaic "befriend" which would at least be correct?Probably the worst aspect of these sites is that there is rarely any items of interest left to talk about when I meet up with my friends in real life. I already know nearly everything that has happened to them for the entire past week - what's left to discuss?
The big social networking websites (facebook, et al) are a lot like the old AOL where you guaranteed to enjoy some real down home lowest-common-denominator conversation. I don't mind smaller social networking sites where the topics are less general and the quality of the content and conversation is usually a bit better. Perhaps, as has been suggested, I'm just too self-centred. I remember a time when I was a little kid when it really was all about me. But now that I'm a husband, a dad and gainfully employed I have responsibilities beyond doing whatever-the-hell-I-want-whenever-I-want-to-do-so, which is why it seems ridiculous to me that I should suddenly be expected to have even more time to keep up with the everyday minutia of other people's lives! I didn't have time for that when I was supposed to have time for it!
For all my opening bluster about hating social networking, I find I'm probably still more socially networked on the interwebs than most people I know.
...Even though years ago I left Myspace in disgust, and more recently quit using Facebook after a year and a day, and today finally disabled Buzz in Google Mail, I've only stopped posting to Flickr - I haven't deleted the account, and I still enjoy having a Youtube account, I still actively post to a bunch of Yahoo Groups email lists for various interests (theres no way to list them anonymously but I just counted 13 of them), not counting the web-based forums I have accounts on for work-related as well as game-related interests. Being able to sign on to a site with OpenID is something I always look for, and although I run my own OpenID server for that purpose - the OpenID plugin for Wordpress for my own site doesn't work anymore for some reason so I don't offer that right now. I was hoping to use Tribe more than I do (thats set up for my alter ego), and I still have memberships on lots of individual sites for special interests like Ubuntu's Launchpad. I still contribute the odd story to Planet Lilug (which is really just aggregated from this site when a story is Linux related), I have a pretty low id number on Slashdot which I read religiously (and only occasionally banter on), I still check on my Boardgamegeek account once in a while, and I log into my IRC account on Freenode when I need some real-time interaction. I try to log into Panda-net with a GO client as often as possible and observe games since I rarely play others. I miss Non-Prophet's old active typepad site where I posted frequently, but still post on lots of blogs as the occasion demands as well as juggling comments on the sites I run. Did you know that there are still people running BBS software? I've been meaning to post about it here, but when I found Synchronet last year I had a ball joining and participating in a bunch of underground BBS systems which really brought back the excitement of social networking when it was still in its infancy in 1991.
For more on leaving social networking for the real world.