So this is something I've been meaning to write for awhile now.
It's time we had a talk about Facebook.
I was an early adopter of Facebook. Not as early as some, but before it was open to everyone. Back when it was a social network for college students and you needed a .edu address to join. Back when you still had to choose a "network" (I think I'm still technically in the Auburn network somewhere buried down in my settings somewhere). I've been on Facebook probably more than 10 years at this point.
But now, I've finally decided to call it (mostly) quits on Facebook.
Many of you have probably noticed I haven't posted much in the last month. The truth is I decided that Facebook and I needed some time apart. I set a rule for myself that I would only look at Facebook once a day. I removed it from my phone. I removed the link from my Top Sites on my browser. And for about a month now, I've really tried to limit my exposure to Facebook. In the process I discovered a few interesting things.
Everything about Facebook is designed to elicit emotional responses from you. Everything from what stories their algorithm brings to the top to the not-so- subtle “Trending Topics” on the side, everything about it is designed to get you to do something. Comment on something, like something, get angry about something. It's manipulative and we are allowing it to control how we think, feel and act.
It is toxic. I’ve tried to filter and control what I see, but it never fails that the one time a day I scroll down my page, I see something that pisses me off or makes me sad. I’m fairly certain that, after all these years, Facebook’s algorithm has a detailed understanding of what will encourage me to click and is bringing things that will encourage me to interact with it to the top. Then I realized why my mood has been a lot better over the last few weeks: I haven’t been subjecting myself to that kind of abuse multiple times a day.
Facebook is the new Weather. What I mean by that is, Facebook is now what people talk about when they don’t have anything else to talk about. It’s always “so and so did this on Facebook” or “I saw X on Facebook,” or “X unfriended me OMG!” It has literally become so integrated into our mainstream society that it’s very difficult to get away from. The Facebook monster’s tentacles run so deep.
I really discovered that I don’t need to know every intimate detail of everyone’s lives, and in a lot of cases I’m better off not knowing what they think. Call it willful ignorance, but if I can pretend that that person I otherwise like didn’t just post a racist / sexist / homophobic / transphobic / whatever rant, then I don’t have to wonder why I’m still friends.
So what does all this mean? I guess it means that, after (mostly) giving it up for a month, I really didn’t miss Facebook and I really don’t need the level of negativity that it brings into my life. So I'm going to continue doing my "once a day for five minutes" approach.
Now, I’m not deleting my account, unfriending everyone or anything like that. All my family is still on Facebook. My neighborhood is still on Facebook, so I need to keep the account open to continue to communicate and not become an un- person. But I’m also not going to be actively involving myself in the Facebook community at least for a little while longer until I can gain a better perspective on life without it. I’ll still check here once a day, but that’s pretty much it.
So, that said, if you want more up-to-date thoughts or need to contact me, you can use the links to the side (or here) to follow me on other social networks. I'm particularly active on Twitter.
And finally, I would encourage each of you to consider your own Facebook vacations. You may come to some of your own thoughts on whether Facebook is really a force for good in your life.