My Latest Social Media Distancing

Okay, here’s what’s up. I’m pausing my social media usage. Why? Lately, Twitter and Facebook have been negative or harmful. I’ve felt the adverse effects on myself, and I’ve seen it happen to others. Again, I’m re-thinking that social media’s affect on society is detrimental. It’s also unnecessary.


Social Media Moratorium

I posted recently that I won’t, at this time, delete my Facebook account. That’s not changed. So far, I’ve done a few things and am considering others:

  • Logged out of my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Deleted the Facebook and Twitter bookmarks from my laptop.
  • Deleted the Twitter webapp from my iPhone. (I already deleted the Facebook and Messenger apps and I don’t use Instagram.)
  • Maybe remove the Twitter widget from my blog.
  • Maybe stop my blog cross-posts from WordPress to Twitter.

Rather than Delete or Deactivate any of my social accounts now, I’m going dormant by removing my quick easy access to them and ceasing most activity with them, at least for a season.


What’s buggin’ me now about Facebook and Twitter? Why do I feel like it’s time to cease and desist, “deplatforming” myself? Well, as you may have noticed, it’s all the political stuff and bad news.

Also, I’m reminded of the extant problems with social media in general, laid out concisely in Glenn Reynolds’ short book, The Social Media Upheaval. I think it’s worth reading again.

I’ll feel some acute FOMO, but it’ll be short lived. When news is so negative online, I choose to distance from it and live more positively with hope offline.

That said, I’m still gonna surf the web! There are many great websites with their own comment sections and sub-communities. And I like sites that are niche-topic-social-sites. On those, people only post about the subject that the site is all about; basically, you can geek-out there! Three examples:

  • Flickr – a social-like site about photos.
  • Goodreads – a social-like site about books and reading.
  • Grouvee – a social-like site about video gaming.

Of course, I’ll also continue my blog. I can geek out on whatever, with a focus on cool tech and fun gaming. And I’ll engage more in the WordPress Reader with other active bloggers.

Before Social Media, there was the Blogosphere!

I still use email and texting and instant messaging with my closest friends and family. So why do we need social media…? Actually, we don’t!

So there it is. Two weeks into 2021, and I already need to step away from the social feeds.

I guess that’s progress.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

It’s Easy To Quit Facebook

Hi there, web peoples. Recently, there’s been more negative chatter online about Facebook and WhatsApp and social media in general, even Big Tech. As usual, my use of Facebook in particular waxes and wanes. Lately, I’ve been re-evaluating my account. Will I keep it, or delete it for the Nth time?


One thought is, well, I could delete my Facebook account – again. It’s easy! I’ve done it like 4 or 5 times in the past 12 years! Seriously. I have.

It’s like the infamous joke about quitting smoking – it’s easy and you can quit anytime. It’s true!

Using Facebook is like smoking. Let that sink in.

But it sure isn’t easy to stay quit for good. I always end up being drawn back to Facebook, to those connections, to family, to relationships, and even the Marketplace. After a few months being totally free from the Book of Faces, I forget the bad parts and miss the good parts. Then I rejoin.

I know that if I delete my Facebook account, then I will likely end up returning. So I will not nuke it from orbit at this time.

But this doesn’t mean I must remain a Facebook User. For a while, I’ve mostly been ignoring or avoiding it. So I’m more of a Facebook Account Holder. A non-active user. I also won’t Deactivate it. It’s there when I want to check in.

The thing that has helped me is that I deleted the Facebook app and the Messenger app from my phone last Fall. And I have no desire to reinstall. I recommend keeping the app off your phone.


All that said, there’s still a chance I will delete my Facebook account in the future. I have no qualms about pulling the plug. Things about Facebook would have to get worse. And frankly, I think things will do just that. Facebook will likely deteriorate…

If more people leave Facebook for other alternatives, then the network effect will weaken to the point where being on Facebook will be pointless. Then I could shake the dust off my feet as I too exit Zuckerburg’s social network.

For now, I’ll just keep social distancing from Facebook.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

The Zero Feeds Experiment

Brain Atrophy

I think I know why our brains hurt. Instead of reading, we’re scanning thousands of text snippets. Headline after headline, tweet after tweet. You and I over-process; the brain-filter is clogged. It’s time to stop feeding on all the feeds, not just social media.


Aggregators

I use three services that collect or curate articles on my favorite interests: WordPress Reader, Feedly, and Google Discover.

WordPress Reader

I’ve considered abandoning the WordPress Reader to force myself into the habit of actually visiting people’s blogs.

The Reader is simple, convenient, and great for consistency. But it makes everyone’s blogs look the same. The Reader lacks a blogger’s personal touch of expression via their theme.

I want to see someone’s blog not stripped of its unique design. Aggregators supply lots of content, but they reduce blog posts to nondescript data-points. 

Feedly

Besides the WP Reader, I use Feedly daily. The name itself is about feeding on feeds!

What’s nice about Feedly is it’s algorithm-free. You can see every single article from every single blog site you follow – in chronological order!

While this means you’ll never miss a thing, the downside is you must track and absorb everything yourself. So I often reevaluate the sites I follow. Some sites are so prolific, it’s like they’re spamming the feed. I sometimes pare them down.

Google Feed

This is content curation at its best. Originally called the Google Feed, the Verge describes the initial purpose:

“Google is hoping you’ll begin opening its app the way you do Facebook or Twitter, checking it reflexively throughout the day for quick hits of news and information.”

Sounds like addiction to me.

Now called Google Discover (yet still labeled “Google feed” in Android settings), this will be a tough one to drop!

On my Android phone, it’s a quick thumb-swipe to the left of the home-screen. It presents an always updated list of news and articles that you’re interested in.

About the signal-to-noise ratio, it’s easily the best feed by far, surfacing a ton of relevant stuff. Better still, I can easily optimize the algorithm settings without leaving the feed. I help curate the content!

I truly discover a lot of articles I’m passionate about in this feed and enjoy it more than Feedly. Leaving this one behind will test me.


The Need To Feed

We are so accustomed to social feeds – and the mindless constant scrolling – that our brains find it hard to think outside that feed box.

Whether social media streams or RSS readers, the convenience of aggregated content brings efficiency. You consume content at speed and at scale – like your brain is a multi-core computer!

But this has problems.

I know from experience that my eyes fluttering over hundreds of headlines and titles also brings fatigue. It’s mind-numbing.

There’s often a feeling of low-grade background anxiety induced by web feeds. I’m sure you’ve felt it too. I sometimes experience a nervous angst, needing to read everything. It makes my brain feel scrambled sometimes. Overwhelmed. All that to hopefully find rare diamonds of information.

design desk display eyewear
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Fasting From Feeds

So as part of an experiment, I’ve decided to try living without any feeds!

This shouldn’t be too hard since I’ve been practicing #socialmediadistancing for a few weeks now – and I’m enjoying the calmer and simpler life. I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp from my phone, plus their bookmarked icons from my browser’s toolbar. My accounts are intact but inactive. It’s a 30-day trial.

Starting July 1st, I will delete the Feedly app from my phone. I will avoid the Reader tab in the WordPress mobile app. And I’ll turn off the Google feed on my Android phone.

Instead, I will manually click to websites or blogs like a net-surfing neanderthal from the 1990’s!

One challenge I foresee here, beyond overcoming the reflex to check feeds, is being forced to slow down. Clicking through several websites will take more time and be tedious. It’s less efficient. But as I’ve written recently, slowing down like this is usually beneficial.

Another drawback to this will be ads. My feeds don’t show ads. But the websites or blogs I like to visit are ad-supported, not subscription based. So I must face obtrusive and distracting ads. I’ll look for ways to mitigate deleterious pop-ups.

The point of this experiment is to see how my brain is affected by starvation of aggregated content. Can my thinking improve if it’s not inundated with hundreds of lines of disparate texts to process? My guess is that the slower pace will cause my mind to relax into deeper, stronger thinking.

After this 30-day experiment runs the month of July, I may post my thoughts about any results.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Three Awesome Anti Social Media Things

I just wanna share a few things about blogging and social media. Because it’s a thing I like to do. Like drinking Dunkin’ Donuts I guess. It gets me buzzin’!


My last post was a 3-part series about transforming social media, so this topic has been at the forefront of my mind. Is that the frontal lobe place? Wherever. It’s in there, and the caffeine has access to it, ‘nuff said.

So with that, I want to share three other perspectives about social media. These three basically underscore my original impetus for writing that 3-part series: social media should just end.

One

The first article that you should read (after you finish mine, of course) is called Bring Back Web 1.0.

It is awesome.

The writing is very…inviting. I wanted to cozy up and listen to more. I almost skipped it; sure glad I didn’t. Read: don’t skip it. It may appeal to older folks like me due to nostalgia. But read it nonetheless and educate yourself a bit. (Then go watch “You’ve Got Mail” starring Tom Hanks.)

Two

The second article is by author and blogger, Cheri Baker, who resides in Seattle (far different climate than my West Texas flavor). I somehow discovered her post last year, Can we make the internet fun again? The answer is…I’ll let you go read her post to find out!

Cheri’s article did that thing to me where your mind tingles like a struck tuning fork. (Sorry, my simile powers are feeling weak at the moment, like most moments.)

Three

And now the third article, which I found via Cheri’s blog post (see, there’s that wonderful link-a-doodle thing again). It’s written in the New York Post by none other than Cal Newport, one of my internet idols. He’s a computer tech nerd-geek, like me, who never had a social media account, unlike me.

You see, I’m trying out micro.blog and have looked into the IndieWeb a lot. I like to think I’m tech savvy, but even some of that stuff intimidates me. But anyways, Cal in his article, Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?, superbly lays out his thoughts on the matter.

The answer, this time I’ll say, is a qualified “Yes.” The IndyWeb can save social media, but not at the large scale of current social media. It’s smaller, more niche, and that is a strength if you ask me.

Newport says,

“Despite its advantages, however, I suspect that the IndieWeb will not succeed in replacing existing social-media platforms at their current scale.”

On top of that, more importantly, Cal says that most people by this point, wary of social media in general, just won’t be interested in any other new form of it. They will move on. Some already have!

Cal argues,

“It may be, too, that people who are uneasy about social media aren’t looking for a better version of it but are instead ready to permanently reduce the role that smartphone screens play in their lives.”

That’s good! This is what I hope for and what I think is happening. People feel disenchanted by the big social networks. And rather than trying a new or different one, they likely won’t care to try at all. Who would blame them?

In my 3 part article, although I had set out to say social media should be eradicated, I ended up thinking it was unlikely that people would abandon social media. We’re all too addicted. It’s too sticky.

So I reasoned that since we’re likely stuck with social media, then it must be transformed into a far better version than what’s current. The IndyWeb-principled micro.blog and the like are potential alternatives.

But as Cal Newport wrote in the New Yorker, maybe people really are so disillusioned with social media that they’re willing to wean off their dopamine addiction. That means everyone can still surf the underlying open web outside the social media silos.


Just Say No To Drugs

Let’s take this back to blogs, because I’m still enchanted with them. Blogging, web 1.0, is still around. And like the linked article states, blogs only die off as much as bloggers allow themselves to get sucked into the pithy drivel of social media. I’m guilty of that!

I started to refocus on my blogging. I’ve socialmediadistanced. And now I’m about to do a hard thing. You see, I deleted the Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp apps from my phone. And I’ve even deleted those services entirely before. 

But the one I’ve always held onto is Twitter. So to go with my 30 day trial break-time from social media, I am now deleting the Twitter app from my phone! My daily dose of dopamine and snark is about to come to a screeching halt! I’m skeered. 😐

Wish me luck.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Transform Social Media – Part 3

Stuck With Social Media

In part 1 of this article, I talked about the bad and ugly side of Social Media that overshadows the good side. The question there was to either remove or improve the social networks.

Part 2 talked about removing Social Media altogether because of its negative effects on society.

Now it’s time for part 3: improving Social Media. But that’s a soft word. Let’s say: transforming.

Social media needs a paradigm shift!

New Social Media

At this point, it’s unlikely Twitter or Facebook will disappear. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook can be killed, but only by a superior social network (No Filter by Sarah Frier, pg 64).

These networks are entrenched in society; they span the globe. Indeed, we’re entangled in a world wide web. Facebook and Twitter are not just websites, they’re cultural centers of communication. They’re planetary town halls. They are woven into the fabric of culture, for better and for worse.

If Social Media persists, there must be radical new ways to do it:

  • Only paid subscriptions; no advertising-supported models.
  • Only real names; no pseudonyms.
  • Only individual people; no brands, companies or business pages.
  • Only individual profiles; no universal aggregated feed.
  • Only group feeds; small administered groups of people would have their own feed.

These ideas are necessary to try because the ways we’ve been doing Social Media continue to fail.

The New Face Of Facebook

Facebook can take radical change for the better. You and I can keep using it; we won’t need to change, Facebook will.

First, no more Newsfeed; just kill it. Go back to the original Facebook that had only profiles of everyone.

The new Social Media rejects the Newsfeed or Timeline. If I want to see what my friend said or did over the weekend, I click on his/her profile! It would be like simple blogs or tumblogs without the overhead.

For convenience, small groups could have a feed. Individual users who manage the group would moderate the feed. The feed is optional, turned off by default.

Second, no more ads. Charge $1 per month per person. I’m sure most of the 2 billion people using Facebook right now can afford that. So that would be $2 billion dollars a month in revenue from Facebook Subscribers! That is serious business.

A Facebook Subscription model would work like Netflix. You pay monthly – just $1! – for the network, and at any time you may cancel.

And your profile is saved. So if you want to return after a 2 month hiatus, no problem! Just log in and flip the payment switch. Buy some Facebook one month at a time. Take a break when you need to.

Other Options

But what if Mark Zuckerberg is unwilling to change Facebook? Then you and I should move to a better platform. What other social networks are there besides Facebook and Twitter?

New social networks with real growth potential have launched before, threatening Facebook. Either Facebook copies them (SnapChat) or buys them (Instagram). Or they implode (Google+, Path)

But there are two new networks that aim to do things better: AllSocial and Bokeh.

The Facebook/Twitter Alternative

AllSocial abolishes the algorithm; it’s in opposition to Facebook. You get a user profile, and there’s a universal feed. But in that feed, you see every single post from every single friend in chronological order! There is no algorithm filtering or sorting anything. While there is content moderation, there is no censorship.

This network is young. So if you join now, you might get the username you want, like I did! Here’s my new profile.

The Instagram Alternative

Bokeh eradicates the entire advertising model of Social Media! It requires a paid subscription; there are no ads! It’s more private, there’s no algorithm for the feed, and it’s also in chronological order. Go check out my separate article here. Suffice to say that the promise and potential are so great, I backed it on Kickstarter.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

For Better Or Best

Maybe I’ve been too focused on the negative effects of Social Media. To be fair, I could talk more about the utility, convenience, and fun of scrolling the Newsfeed.

But if it’s fun entertainment I’m after, then you and I both know there are far better ways to enjoy it outside of Facebook. YouTube much? Or better yet, take up a new hobby.

And though we like the utility of Facebook Groups or Marketplace, those services are elsewhere too. But they’re often overlooked. And if they don’t exist, it’s because there’s no chance for them to compete against the leviathans of Social Media.

There are real benefits to a universal platform where anyone can say or publish anything. Much good comes from such freedom of expression. Social Media is sometimes a helpful change agent.

But it’s not the only change agent, and it’s not the best. Worse is the unprecedented power of Facebook. Its vast global reach is under the ultimate control of one person. This is precarious; it could be perilous. Who can change this mighty change agent?

In any case, Social Media must change. We must transform it because it causes more harm than help in society.

So don’t hesitate to consider other social networks. Think about joining AllSocial or Bokeh. I know your friends and family might not be on those networks; maybe they’d never switch. I get it.

Change is hard, and when “everybody” is on Facebook, there’s too much inertia from the network effect to break free. It’s a real issue! But is that issue insurmountable? And is that issue greater than the negative effects of Social Media on everybody?

Talk to your friends and family. Open a good discussion (not on Facebook) about starting fresh on a new and improved social network. Invite them out for coffee and politely ask if they think current Social Media is a net negative or positive. Share this 3 part article with them.

You’ve got to give change a chance.

You are the change agent. For the better. And for the best.


What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!