Thoughts On Social Media

Some of my thoughts lately have dwelled on Social Media like Facebook. I often re-think my personal use of it, and I also ponder general ideas about the pros and cons of social networks in our culture. These kinds of thoughts are also prevalent in the news and other publications, which fuel my thoughts more.

I deleted several of my social media accounts before for various reasons. And then I’ve rejoined for other reasons. But I’m not contemplating quitting again. I think I may just be reconsidering how much I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you know, just keeping it in check.

Besides social media, I recently deleted a couple apps from my devices: Apple News and Flickr. The apps and services are very good. But I simply found that I have not used them in a long time. I’m too busy enjoying other things like WordPress and Twitter.

Limited Attention Span

My puny 3 pound human brain can only handle so much input and output; it is not a multi-tasking computer like some mistakenly seem to believe. Much of my brain’s processing power is spent at work doing my job of Civil and Structural design. Then it’s managing a daily work/home/life schedule, keeping it all in balance.

Anyways, as I do periodically, I scale back the number of apps on my smartphone and tablet. I step back. I re-evaluate. Re-assess the situation. Slow down. Regroup. Stuff like that. I just get tired from it all, even the enjoyable bits.

So, of course, moderation is good here. Technology in general enables us with so many options for productivity and creativity. One must choose to use tech tools wisely.

And I think most of this is common sense. But it’s easy, and subtle, for common sense to get overlooked because we’re so easily distracted by all the whiz-bang coolness of apps and social media.

Yeah, I know this is nothing new. The thing that is new, however, is how it seems social media problems have become more pronounced and written about in our culture. I’ll point to one article in particular from Cal Newport about Social Media Reform here.

Let me also point out Cal’s new book due to arrive in February called, “Digital Minimalism.” I’ve already pre-ordered my Kindle version!

Minimalism is a good final point on my current thoughts on Social Media. I don’t want to delete altogether but minimize use or exposure, and thereby mitigate any negative effects. I hope the net results will be positive!

What are your thoughts on Social Media? Thanks.

-Jason

I’m A Friend With Facebook Again

I’m not sure how to say this. This is a post that I’ve felt I needed to share but I’ve been reluctant to. You see, back in March, I deleted my Facebook account. I called it the “nuke from orbit” option. And I think I had some pretty heavy reasons for doing so. But then on August 1st this year, I created a new Facebook account and re-friended many.

So what changed? Why did I decide to befriend my frenemy, Facebook?

Well, it’s pretty simple I think. Basically, all my friends and family are there.

So while Facebook still has a lot of pros and cons, and the cons are nothing to take lightly, its number one feature is connecting with people I care about. For better or for worse and despite there being other ways to stay in touch with people, Facebook is the easiest way of all.

facebook internet login screen
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I could kinda go through a list of ethical, philosophical, or sociological reasons why life would probably be better-off without Facebook. You know, heady stuff. But I’m not going to.

After 4 months of zero Facebooking, I simply wanted to stay in touch with people, easily share photos, and have access to Marketplace. And, guess what? I like getting likes. I admit it. I enjoy comments too. I can live without all that just fine, but I think I can live with it okay too.

I’ve had my ups and downs with Facebook, the addiction to it. So this aint my first rodeo. I know how to manage my Facebook habits well enough that I can use it for the good stuff it provides while avoiding the bad stuff. And that’s what I decided to do. So I rejoined. And I can quit anytime, I swear! 😉

Why I Quit Facebook

I quit Facebook. I chose the nuke from orbit option: deletion instead of deactivation. The recent Cambridge Analytica data exploit was the catalyst for my decision. But I had been wary of Facebook before and was already detaching from it.

Over my 9 years of friending, liking, and sharing, Facebook has been a mixed bag. I’ve enjoyed the positive things about it, but the negatives finally weighed enough for me to quit.

I still do social media–follow me on Twitter–but now I do less of it. Of course, I also deleted my Instagram account since it’s owned by Facebook. Now I plan to focus more on my blog…and my offline life.

So why did I quit Facebook? Of my many reasons, I’ll try to summarize only a few. Crack knuckles…begin!


Facebook neither protects your data nor respects your privacy

Facebook’s privacy mistakes and data sharing concerns have surfaced repeatedly throughout the years. It’s made me leary before. And now, the latest and greatest example is the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Altogether, it’s made me no longer trust Facebook.

Facebook is too addictive and manipulative

Facebook’s ability to keep our attention has been a growing concern over time; the pot seems to have boiled over. Tristan Harris and his site humanetech explain best, and my experience is like that of many. I’ve mindlessly scrolled the newsfeed and habitually checked for red circled notifications too much. I’ve written about it before: The End of Newsfeed Distraction and The Matrix of Social Media.

Facebook kills the open and indy web

Facebook’s ubiquity and utility make it a one-stop-shop; it tries to be everything to everyone. And under the pretense of privacy and security, it’s closed off–less so these days–from the rest of the internet. So most people stay on Facebook instead of visiting other websites and blogs. People once “surfed the web;” now they “scroll their feed.”

Facebook is too big and influential

Facebook has 2.2 billion members–more than the largest country in the world. This suggests great power requiring great responsibility. But I think for any one person, like founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, it is too much. The inherent risks are too great. And although being an influential and powerful agency, Facebook has been unregulated by any government and has proven unable or unwilling to regulate itself to any sufficient degree. Zuckerberg himself has shown reluctance to his assumed responsibilities.


Those are some of my reasons why I gained freedom from Facebook. Overall, I’m not totally against social media. It has pros and cons, and it affects people in different ways. But I think it would be good to re-evaluate the place of Facebook in your life and choose what’s best. Maybe you delete it or use it less. Or you could be good as is.

Have you thought about quitting Facebook before? What are some pros and cons of social media for you? Do you prefer Twitter over Facebook? Or Pinterest versus Instagram??

Let me know in the comments; I’d be glad to hear your input!

The Matrix Of Social Media

Billions of people are going about their lives every day, oblivious to the truth: just like The Matrix, Social Media has them. We live in an online world of mindless scrolling, hooked on ‘likes’. Impulsively, we go to Facebook or Instagram to check our notifications. The ‘feeds’ beckon our minds to…keep checking–but for what? It seems Social Media Addiction is a thing, and it seems designed to be.

My usage of social media started in 2009 with Facebook and grew from there. In the past nine years, as I consumed more of its content, it consumed me further. So I’ve had to pull back and exercise moderation, exerting self-control. The social media matrix is all about control; it wants our attention at all times.

Two times in the past, I have deleted, not just deactivated, my Facebook account. Call it ‘nuke from orbit’. And because of the recent news that, once again, Facebook user data and privacy was exploited, I might press the big red button for a third nuke. I can quit Facebook anytime, I’m not addicted! Said the social junkie. The #DeleteFacebook trend on Twitter (irony alert) is compelling.

For some reason, even before the news of the current data exploit, I’ve been drawn to withdraw from social media. Well, maybe not Twitter. The fact that I’m concerned about adverse social media withdrawal and not getting my fix of notifications is evidence, I believe, that I’m addicted to it. But I can quit anytime!

Psychostimulants

Social media is like coffee. You wake up and you’ve got to have it, and you get jittery if you go too long without it. Plus it can keep you up late at night! That’s the way it goes with me. I’ll enjoy one or two cups of coffee per day. The next thing you know, I’m up to 4 cups a day–too much! So I step back from the coffee; just put the mug down!

That’s what moderation looks like. You still drink coffee or use social media, but you do it more mindfully; no more mindless scrolling and checking. You put healthy limits on your time on Twitter or Facebook. But if you find yourself getting sucked back in too far past the boundaries, you may have to resort to abstinence. Instead of a little Instagram or Snapchat here and there, for example, you “just say no” to the drug altogether. You might resort to the ‘nuke from orbit’ option. Go ballistic. Delete.

You can quit cold turkey, sure. Just pull the plug! But that might not be successful. Like Neo in The Matrix, you might pop because your mind can’t take the sudden absence of red circles with numbers in them. So you might try soft exits in a series of steps. I’ve done this before and it totally helps. Instead of deleting or deactivating Facebook, for example, you can detach.

Find The Nearest Exit

Last year, I posted an idea for gaining control over your Facebook Newsfeed: The End of Newsfeed Distraction. It wakes you up from the mindless scrolling so you don’t find yourself tumbling down the never-ending rabbit hole of social matrices.

Some other easy and helpful tips: on your smartphone, move all social media app icons into folders on a 3rd or later screen so they’re a bit harder to get to. And the next logical step–simply delete the apps from your phone or tablet. This let’s you keep your account intact (it’s there if you need it), but it saves you from instinctively tapping away at your screen to check your feeds.

These steps are simple. And if the thought of doing them makes you uncomfortable, then consider that social media has you. It’s important to take control, again like The Matrix. At the risk of a false dichotomy, either Facebook controls you, or you control Facebook. You consume it and then unwittingly discover that it consumes you! Social Media is insidious that way.

It may sound like I’m bashing all social networking, and I get that some people love to hate on these modern fruits of technology just out of sensationalism. I don’t mean to sound alarmist unless there is some danger. Some people do get great usage out of the tools of social media and it serves them well. And I am starting to wonder if Facebook itself, as big as it is, has become somewhat essential to modern life, just as the internet itself has become a utility like water and electricity. I would contend otherwise–but that’s a blog post for another time.

For now I’ll say social media, like fruit, can be good. But even fruit goes bad over time. Biting into a rotten apple is not fun. Scrolling a sour newsfeed is not fun either. But people do it out of habit. You’ve just got to decide to keep your good habits and toss your bad ones. You decide because you are in control. Don’t let The Matrix Of Social Media control you.

The End of Newsfeed Distraction

Several weeks ago, I found myself once again mindlessly scrolling the Facebook Newsfeed with my thumb, glancing blankly at each passing post. I had opened the app for a specific reason but somehow got distracted, forgetting what I was there for. I’m sure you’ve heard of this habitual phenomenon before; it happens often.

I got frustrated by it, snapped out of my mindless scrolling, and decided to try and put an end to it once and for all – without deleting or deactivating my Facebook account.

So what did I do? I did what many people, myself included, have done before. I simply tailored my newsfeed by unfollowing (in other words, decluttering) people. But there was one big difference this time. I pushed it to the limits!

I decided to try and see what would happen if I unfollowed everybody – including my own wife! I wondered, would the algorithm show me anything? Would there still be ads?

I figured I’d give it a shot and then slowly re-follow some people one at a time. Basically, I would start my newsfeed over with a fresh clean slate and then build it back to a cleaner and leaner…source of distraction – I mean information, right?

Unfollowing everybody worked! It’s been over a month now and my newsfeed distraction problem is solved.

Much of the time, my newsfeed is literally blank! Sometimes, I will see only the last few of my own posts. And once in a while there is an ad. The only other posts I will see are the occasional ones Facebook promotes like Memories. There are usually 4 posts or less, so there’s nothing to scroll through on auto-pilot.

I figured I would re-follow some people, but because my newsfeed is so clutter free and since I have really enjoyed being released from the mindless scrolling distraction, I decided to not add anyone back to follow!

So if you’re tired of being distracted and want to escape some of the digital clutter of your social media, give it a try; unfollow everyone!

Here’s a few other points to consider: You will still be friends. You can still just look up your friends on their Timeline to see how they’re doing. You can still message them. You will still get notifications from friends if you want to. And no one will know that you unfollowed them; Facebook doesn’t notify others of unfollows.

After you unfollow everyone and see what it’s like, you can decide whether to add anyone back to follow and slowly rebuild your simplified newsfeed. Or you can just keep it as minimal as possible – keep everyone unfollowed.