Like many people, Randy Hallet is fed up with the Facebooking of the planet. Unlike most, he's decided to do something about it. The 30-something Webpreneur has created what he calls "the anti-social network."
Hallet declined to speak by phone, though he did agree to an interview via Twitter. He tweeted:
"I'm fed up with Web 2.0. I moved 3000 miles to get away from some of these people. Now I have to see what they had for lunch every day."
Many people feel pressure to participate in social networks, even when they don't really want to, Hallet explained. The next thing they know, photos of them wearing nothing but body paint and Spock ears have been broadcast to complete strangers. It damages both their reputations and their psyches, he laments.
So Hallet created "Garbo." Named for the 1930s film star turned recluse, Garbo allows users to quietly de-friend everyone in their Linked-In, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Digg, and other social networks without anyone noticing. New friend requests sent on any of these existing services will be greeted with a one-line response: "I want to be left alone."
"At the current rate of growth there will be more social networks than people by 2011," Hallet tweeted. "Enough is enough."
Hallet says he briefly considered naming the service Salinger or Pynchon, but settled on Garbo because he realized while many Netizens have never actually read a book, they'd probably seen at least one movie.
Still in closed beta, Hallet hopes to unveil Garbo later this spring "before the world goes completely to hell," he tweets. Those interested in signing up for the service when it launches can find him on Twitter @garbotweets. Don't expect a response, Hallet warns.
Hallet's ambitious plans also include a national Do Not Tweet registry, which prevents people from saying anything about you on the microblogging service, and EnemyFeed, which does a similar service for a wide range of social media, including blogs.
Hallet graciously allowed me to be an early beta tester for the services. So if you never read another blog entry from me again, you'll know that it's working.