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The Day When Man Died on Facebook

By Katarina Hybenova

By Katarina Hybenova



Every step along the way, Facebook has acted like a brat, and treated its users as nothing more than pulp for revenue.

Last night Facebook was a just a little bit more exciting than usual. Man Bartlett, a social media artist based in Bushwick, decided to delete his Facebook profile. He approached the protest against Facebook as a performance, and all of his 1,500+ friends enjoyed some crazy poking, all caps statuses and wall posting insanity.

About a week ago that Man Bartlett realized that the cup of Facebook crap is full, and he decided to leave. He created a Facebook event, which resembled a good bye letter, and invited all his friends encouraging them to stay in touch using other means. The departure to the 'other' world was scheduled at midnight after his birthday on July 5. Man could have hardly pick a better date, because as is every Facebook user aware, birthdays are the craziest time of all when hundreds of people post wishes on your wall. Man Bartlett encouraged everyone to post on his wall excessively, and as the hour of his departure approached he was posting more and more statuses. Additionally, Man decided to poke all of his friends before the midnight, which became a source of overall commotion and turmoil. Some of my favorite statuses by Man in his last hour included: "ANY QUESTIONS?," which really generated many questions; or "NOTIFICATIONS ARE PILING UP FASTER THAT I CAN POKE;" "IT'S REALLY WEIRD TO POKE GALLERY DEALERS."

It's hard to tell how many people were sitting behind their computers refreshing Man Bartlett's profile around midnight waiting for it to disappear but  I am guessing quite a lot.

Here is a video from the last minutes of Man Bartlett on Facebook:


Right after Man Bartlett stopped exisiting as a Facebook user, I asked him a couple of questions relating to his last days.

How long have you been on Facebook? 

According to Facebook, since 2006. Though I thought it was a bit earlier than that. I remember being salty for a while because I needed a .edu address and I was already out of school. But I went through the process of getting my old Emerson College address back and signed up with that. But then a couple months later it was open to everyone.

How many Facebook friends did you have?

~1,500. Some people left during the fury, but a bunch friended me at the last minute. Which was funny.

How many people did you poke?

A couple hundred at least. No idea how many exactly. It was much more challenging to poke that many people than I was expecting! I was just opening like 40 tabs at a time and racing through (see screengrab).

Facebook is like having a lot of really awesome people together (the art community) but in a super shitty hotel with shitty service. No matter how good the company is, you're going to have a bad time.

What was the moment that made you decide for real to delete your Facebook?

Late Sunday night (I think) I was looking up a friend's email address and it was listed as their facebook.com address. And then I just created the Facebook event for it for Friday, giving myself enough time to give everyone the heads up. And for myself to kind of figure out what the week was going to be like.

That change to facebook.com email address was super lame. It's been written about in a bunch of places,  e.g. here or here.

To be clear, on its own, I'm not saying it was *that* bad, but it was just the last straw in a long list of grievances with the company. Also recently having images censored for lame reasons, not wanting to have an account when it hits a billion users, and seeing the fallout from the IPO. Every step along the way, Facebook has acted like a brat, and treated its users as nothing more than pulp for revenue. I mean, at least *package* your contempt for me as an individual, like other sites manage to do. But yeah, in the simplest sense, I was disgruntled. And that feeling ultimately outweighed any perceived concern I had about "leaving my network."

One analogy I gave in one of the threads was that it was like having a lot of really awesome people together (the art community) but in a super shitty hotel with shitty service. No matter how good the company is, you're going to have a bad time. I'm certainly not the first one to leave the party (James Wagner and Ryder Ripps come to mind as prominent art-world examples I know of), but I enjoyed making a large, obnoxious meta-production out of my experience and exit. And apparently so did some other people. :)

What was the most interesting posting you go on your wall?

So many! Things really got crazy towards the end. I actually don't remember most of it! But before the end-end, I was really happy that so many people contributed images to the "Free for Y'all" group show. Which I just told everyone to post whatever they wanted on my wall, especially images of their own work, spam, dick pics, etc. The idea was to just go over the top with the self-promotion. Chris Moss' paintings and fireworks images. David Kehs seemingly endless stream of landscape-y paintings. Those dogs dressed as Lady Gaga. Great music posted from a bunch of people. Someone posted a video of an atomic explosion near the end. It was seriously the most fun I'd ever had on Facebook. And people came out of the woodwork to participate. I actually really did reconnect with people I hadn't interacted with in a long time.  I also really enjoyed Alli Miller's images as well as Andreas Templin's. The latter is also already not on Facebook at all, and emailed me images to post from Berlin.

You know that FB gives you an option to restore your profile after it was deleted. Don't you think it will be tempting?

Nah, I'm too committed at this point. :) And this decision was a *long* time coming.

Is there anything you'd like to say to Mark Zuckerberg?

Don't touch #NewInternet.

PS: Man Bartlett is on Twitter and Tumblr.

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