Let Facebook Age Out

Facebook is ubiquitous. If you need to find someone, chances are they’re on Facebook. And most people are so hooked on it that they’d never delete their account. Would you? If not, can we keep the next generation off it? I think that’s a key part of ending Facebook’s ubiquity.

This Gen On

Current generations (Boomers, Gen X, Millennials) use social media a lot – for better or for worse. And it’s hard to stop the train or jump off while it’s moving! Maybe you have tried to reduce your Facebook usage or know someone who has.

I kind of hate to admit that I still have a Facebook account (I’ve been considering deletion or deactivation). I opt for what Cal Newport terms Controlled Use. The Facebook app has been off my phone since last December; I rarely check the site on my PC. I unfollowed almost everyone, so my Newsfeed is mostly blank. This keeps me from getting sucked in. You probably know what I’m talking about.

Next Gen Off

But what about the next generation (Gen Y, Gen Z, Post-Millennials)? Current Facebook rules require you to be age 13 to get an account. But does a kid really need an account? Aren’t they still learning how to socialize face to face? Why complicate their growth with an addictive social media profile and a distracting Newsfeed where even adults fail to exercise self-control over their time spent mindlessly scrolling?

I’ve often wondered what it would take for Facebook’s dominance to dwindle. In order for Facebook to die out, it must age out. And you and I can keep the next generation from gravitating towards its black hole. It is our responsibility to do just that.

Caution Children Playing

One of the founders of Facebook, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally or knowingly exploited human psychological vulnerabilities to cause people to use the site more and more. And he expressed deep concern over kids using social media,

“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” – Sean Parker

Our kids should be warned of Facebook’s problems (addiction, anti-privacy, lack of security, surveillance, misinformation, fake-news, etc) and be discouraged from getting onboard.

My oldest son turns 13 this year. I don’t want him to ever get on Facebook. So in my house, that’s the deal. No Facebook for you, kids! Like many restrictions, this one applies until they’re 18 years old or they move out.

This, of course, brings up a point. What about my own use of Facebook, and my wife’s account, for example? If I tell my kids they shouldn’t be on Facebook yet they see me on it, doesn’t that send a mixed message? Isn’t that hypocritical? Good point!

Yes and no. I see the mixed message. I get it. But it’s like a lot of things in life: some stuff is for mature adults only: cigarettes, alcohol, R-rated movies, etc. As parents, we shield or restrict our kids from these types of things. Facebook (social media and YouTube), falls in this category.

Facebook is also like sugar: sweet at fleeting moments yet detrimental if not used in moderation. It is not good for your health. Children lack the discretion and self-control to consume it responsibly. And as a parent of 5 young boys, I know the fall-out from letting kids have even a little sugar beyond the occasional snack.

Pressed Against A Facebook Wall

My opinion on these matters isn’t alone of course. Social media (Facebook) is very problematic for teenagers. Take this statement for example:

“Social-networking sites like Facebook promise to connect us to friends. But the portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation.” – Jean M. Twenge

The Atlantic article with the above statement talks about the deleterious effects of smartphones and social media on the next generation. They’re the ones, like my kids, we must protect.

There are also books written and studies done about this. One related article is found here: You Are The Product. Here’s one more: The End of Facebook’s Ubiquity. And a related book hot off the press: Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook catastrophe. The Zucked website front page has some simple guidelines for protecting kids from Facebook.

Let’s do our kids a favor and keep them off Facebook. Let Facebook age out.

What do you think, is Facebook something we should protect our kids from? Can social media be used for good? Is the negative press of Facebook overblown? Comment below or email me. Love to hear from ya!

Deleted My Instagram Account Today

Another day. Another deletion. This time it was Instagram. I had almost deleted my account back in December last year but just removed the app from my iPhone and left the rest alone. Until today.

I dropped a nuke from orbit.

There wasn’t much to nuke really. I had only just created my account in early August of last year. After about four months and 20 photos, I was already thinking of pulling the plug.

What made me delete, you ask? Fair question. Well, besides having little invested and little to lose, I just didn’t use it. And I like to keep my online stuff simple. So now I have one less account to manage.

Another big sticking point is that Instagram is a Facebook property. And I’ve increasingly distanced myself and detached from Facebook. So Instagram deletion fits in.

Why am I disengaged from or disenchanted with Facebook and its apps and services? I bet you can guess why. But this is for another blog post on another day.

So where will I post my random photos now? Maybe nowhere. Maybe I’ll have fewer random photos and more intentional ones. Imagine, photography with better focus! (See what I did there?)

I would like to share more of my pictures, like these Water Lilies, here on my blog since this is the space on the interwebs I prefer to invest in. I also still have Twitter at my disposal, but who knows if that’s really a good place for random pix. And I often just text pictures directly to family.

Where do you like to share your pictures online? Have you considered nuking your Instagram or other social media accounts? Share in the comments or drop me a line here. It’s nice to hear from you!

Being An Introvert On Twitter

This year has seen a lot of bad news concerning Facebook and online privacy. The drum beat of anti-social media has grown louder. You’d think scrolling a newsfeed is like smoking cigarettes. Perish the thoughtcrime!

On some level I think that’s an apt description. Like maybe Brave New World is coming true. Or 1984. Or both. Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death? To some degree. But I don’t want to over-amplify suspicions of dystopia.

Social media does have some benefits, right? It’s not all bad. Convenience and connection come to mind. I know that’s debatable. And I think whether the good outweighs the bad is ultimately an individual decision. Yet when the anti-social drum beats loudly, it sounds like many agree the bad overshadows the good, if there is any at all. Personally, I go back and forth.

When I deleted Facebook and Instagram earlier this year, I kept Twitter.

Being the biggest and most influential of all, Facebook gets most of the heat. It’s well deserved based on the ill news reports of privacy disregard and misinformation campaigns. But Twitter also gets a fair share of backlash.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The tweeting bird icon is cute, but Twitter’s been described less favorably: cesspool of toxic human waste, vitriolic garbage fire, hellscape. Sounds harsh! And I think I can see why; I’ve heard pretty bad things about the negativity there: trolls, unfiltered comments, blocking people, and the like.

Maybe I’m a bit naive, but fortunately so far, my experience as a ‘nobody’ on Twitter has been far better than that. Maybe it’s because my follower/following counts are so low: just double digits. But that’s fine with me. I wouldn’t say I’m a heavy user of Twitter. But I like it. Why?

In general, Twitter’s design and function on the web and iOS app is simple, clean, and elegant when compared to Facebook. The user interaction is minimal. Only 140 (now 280) characters of text! A few buttons here and there, a few features. That’s it. On the surface, it seems easy to grasp.

The whole Twitter etiquette thing may be less easy to grasp as I’m sure I’ve broken it before; I try to not spam or overuse #hashtags or @replies. But I think this is due to my slow grokking rather than poor design of the service.

Even though I’ve had little engagement on Twitter with other users, it’s actually been nice. Quality over quantity. People have been polite, sincere and helpful or encouraging. So my guess is it depends largely on who you follow and how many people or brands you keep up with.

A specific insight I think I’ve had on why I like Twitter is this: it may be a place where introverts can feel like extroverts at the party. That might sound dopey, so I’ll try to explain.

Introverts like myself generally don’t do well at parties or other social gatherings of humans. I’ll speak for myself; I’m not good at saying witty, funny, or intelligent things on the fly. In fact, it’s hard to say those kinds of things even in writing where I have time to think before I speak!

On Twitter, I think introverts can sort of feel like they’re “part of the conversation.” They can throw in their two-cents worth of deep thoughts in a succinct-pithy-partial-paragraph. Or even just silly banter. We can be ourselves without worry because the awkwardness of close physical proximity is absent!

Granted, the lack of physical proximity, and worse, the ability to remain anonymous if one so chooses, both allow or enable all kinds of the bad behavior Twitter is infamous for.

Introverts can follow/be followed relatively easily, “hang-out” with peers or keep company with prominent figures and have a semblance of connection. (Of course I’m presupposing authenticity and all that.)

Where else can I easily express my fondness of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with others? Well, I could blog about it here I guess, but I doubt Dunkin’ would notice. On Twitter, they’re likely to engage with me with a retweet supporting their brand. But I digress.

If it turns out that a majority of people agree social media is more trouble than its worth or is detrimental to our mental health enough to require a surgeon general’s warning, then I’ll probably quit not just Facebook but also Twitter. Like switching from Camel Wides to Marlboro Lights won’t cut it. You gotta quit smoking altogether.

As one can breath air without inhaling ciagarette smoke, one can communicate without social media.

Anyways, I couldn’t fit all that in a tweet. So I blogged it! And I’ll share the link on Twitter.

What are your thoughts? Thanks for reading.


The Web Itself Is The Social Network

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about social media versus the blogosphere. To help distinguish them, the term social network is synonymous with social media, whereas I refer to the blogosphere as ‘online networking’. But today I discovered something that clarifies and simplifies this latter term.

Online networking is simply…the internet! I kind of knew that already, but I didn’t know how to articulate it in a way that helped distinguish it from social media, you know, the walled-gardens and silos that seemed to evolve from blogging.

The discovery I made today is called micro.blog, which led me to the site inessential by Brent Simmons. There, I found a statement that shed more light on the subject:

Micro.blog is not an alternative silo: instead, it’s what you build when you believe that the web itself is the great social network.

Brent Simmons – inessential.com

The web itself is the great social network. This is music to my ears! Or poetry. You get what I’m saying.

In a discussion about the latest Facebook privacy scandal and the ills of social media in general, I heard someone mention micro.blog as an alternative to Twitter. I like Twitter, and I like new tech things. So I had to check it out. That’s when I found the distinction above: micro.blog is not an alternative silo.

Earlier today, I published a blog post about Walt Mossberg quitting Facebook. In it, I wondered what new social paradigm might replace social media as we know it.

On top of that, in a post I wrote last week, I suggested that the blogosphere, or at least the best parts of it, could be the best alternative to social media, perhaps in an updated form.

At first glance, micro.blog seems to be an incredible fit to all of this.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It sort of encapsulates a way to have independent blogs (a bit of the past from the blogosphere) and a common “stream” or “feed” where everyone’s blog posts can appear (a bit of the present from social media) for a modern combo of online networking.

Like the best of both worlds, maybe micro.blog takes the positive benefits of blogging and Facebooking, leaves out the bad parts, and refines them into a bit of the future alternative we may all need online.

This is all my first impressions and some speculation I guess. But it’s intriguing. And worth looking into. I mean, does this not sound pretty awesome?

Instead of yet another social network, Micro.blog is designed to work with the open web. It’s built on RSS and independent microblogs. It’s about pulling together short posts and making them more useful and easier to interact with. It prioritizes both a safe community of microblogs as well as the freedom to post to your own site.

Manton Reece

After 2018’s social media problems, maybe 2019 is the time to move on from things like Facebook once and for all.

Any thoughts? Comment below. Thanks for reading.

A Tech Hero Quits Facebook

Venerable tech veteran Walt Mossberg announced he’s quitting Facebook after 12 years of socializing there. But does this news really matter?

First, I applaud Mossberg’s decision. More power to him. He’s doing what he thinks is best. And frankly, my opinion is that we should all probably quit Facebook. More on that later.

That said, I think his quitting does and doesn’t matter. Let me explain.

It Matters

It matters because of who Mossberg is. Given his particular credentials and long history in the tech industry, his quitting says a lot about Facebook as a tech product or service.

Despite the many years of trouble for Facebook with its frequent privacy scandals, Mossberg weathered all those storms and kept his account open.

Until now.

So Mossberg, who I take as a very level-headed down-to-earth guy, has said enough is enough. And if he says that’s it for him, then we should seriously rethink our own Facebook accounts.

It Doesn’t Matter

I think Mossberg’s departure matters; at least it should. But in the end, I don’t think it will have much affect on either Facebook or those who use it. In that sense, his quitting doesn’t matter.

Also, because other high-profile people have quit Facebook without really causing change, I don’t see why Mossberg’s quitting will be any different despite his admirable influence.

Quitting Is Hard

Facebook is like a drug. It’s easy to quit… I’ve done it several times. Then I go on a social bender and re-friend everyone. Right.

I see just two basic reasons why people will quit using a drug like Facebook.

One, they finally realize it’s killing them; they must quit or die. And the harm of continued use outweighs the harm of the struggle to quit.

And the other reason: you find a better drug to replace the one you’re hooked on.

I think this latter reason is the most likely way Facebook will fade away. People will find new and better social fixes.

And I think, or hope, it won’t be a “better Facebook.” I think it may not even be social media as we know it.

In a similar way that online networking evolved from the blogosphere to social media, I think there will be, or needs to be, a fundamental shift away from social media to a new paradigm.

What that might look like, I’m not sure. But I bet someone is cooking it up in a lab to capitalize on the growing social media backlash. If you build it, they will come, right? (Nevermind Google+.)

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.