March 17, 2019

Leaving Facebook... For A Bit.

I'm confident that just about everyone who has a Facebook® account finds themselves asking, "Why?!". For all of the enjoyment that one can find in checking your feed for the latest MEME, adorable pet pictures, and the obligatory food pics. Newspapers post articles, publishing companies host pages about your favorite television shows, and groups are formed around topics, events, or general silliness. It's a convenient place to invite people to parties or events, and to let people know what's going on in your life.

On the other hand, I've spent countless hours on social media with very little to show for it other than stress or anger. It's a simple matter to ignore or discount a political or religious view from some semi-anonymous user, but on Facebook® those people are generally a lot closer to you, your friends and your family, rather than just casual acquaintances.

No More Facebook Screen Capture

One can limit who sees the content you post, most typically "Public", "Friends", or "Friends except Acquaintances", but it's possible to create custom lists of people you know would be interested in a specific topic. The interface for managing those lists is not really that simple, and there's no on-line culture promoting its use. Very few people ask themselves "Who would actually like or respond constructively what I'm sharing?"

Instead, the shotgun approach is used. "I like this [thing], therefore I'm going to share it and hope I get lots of reactions because of it." In general, I don't have a problem with this, except in the case that it's my friends and family. It's like being at a Thanksgiving dinner when one outspoken relative starts spouting nonsense conspiracy theories, or another preaches about how the country is finally being lead by a Righteous Leader™ finally bringing Religion™ back to the heathens. You manage to redirect the first to talk about some sportsball topic, and the second is distracted by gossip about the latest Housewives® episode. You're sipping your beer, thinking how nice the reprieve is when a third person mentions something about gun control and the whole room blows up with amendment declarations verses the human right not to be shot. Even a well-placed Game of Thrones® reference isn't enough to deter this conversation.

That's Facebook® every day. But none of these "conversations" are constructive in any way. Instead, it's a bunch of people yelling from one side or the other about how wrong their opponent is. This type of noise on Twitter doesn't seem to bother me, because it's relatively impersonal, and I can ignore and block with impunity. When it's Facebook®, where people I actually care for are participating, I don't want to "unfollow" or "block" them, and I tire from "hiding" specific posts. Sometimes, I simply don't want to know someone's opinion. Just share with me cute puppy pictures or a funny joke. Tell me what's happening with the superhero series, or when we're getting together for beer. Let me know if you're sick, or well, or if you saw something unique at work or school.

Of course, there are many more practical and security focused reasons to leave Facebook®. A internet quick search will reveal a plethora of privacy and security concerns, not to mention the old adage from Television Delivers People, a 1973 film about television advertising, which equally applies to Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram®, and so forth.

"You are the product of t.v." it declares, "you are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer. He consumes you".

I'm sure I'll be back, some day. Maybe once I've created my own Facebook client to filter the content in a meaningful manner for me. Perhaps an image analyzer or machine learning routine to mark and ignore disagreeable content. Or maybe I won't go back at all.

Tags: misc