October Unfriends Facebook

This month has been one bad report after another for Facebook, coming to a crescendo this week with an onslaught of unfriendly news for Facebook and its Newsfeed. The clarion call to #DeleteFacebook may be at its loudest ever. Yet shareholders seem content, billions of dollars keep piling up, and billions of people seem stuck on the social media service — myself included.

Mark Zuckerberg may never step down or be ousted, but new regulation from the US, England, and maybe more countries, seems inevitable at this point. If that ultimately is good or bad remains to be seen. Hopefully it’s enough to mitigate the deleterious effects of Facebook and also prevent any other company from reaching similar dubious status.

I’m sure you’ve heard something of the above in the news already. Maybe you’ve deleted your Facebook account. As for me, well yeah, I’ve deleted my Facebook account…many times; I always end up returning to the love/hate relationship. I’ve tried to document that on my blog. Also for the record, I remain active on Twitter, a social media site.

For a long time, amidst whatever Facebook PR crisis, I wasn’t moved. But this month, especially this week, I am seriously considering giving the social network a thumbs down and deleting it again. Unfortunately, I would likely end up creating a new account within a year because that’s been my pattern. The pull of close family and friends who remain on Facebook wears me down until, eventually, I’ve forgotten the ills and miss the “thrills” of cat pix, silly memes, and birthday wishes.

There are a few things I find useful on Facebook, like certain Groups for coordinating events . Marketplace also has utility, though it has degraded in recent years. Otherwise, my use of Facebook is infrequent at best. I do not have the app on my phone or tablet, and I only occasionally check the site for new messages, which are few. So for me, Facebook isn’t an addiction; I actively avoid the Newsfeed. That’s why, despite the site’s general woes, I have not been driven to nuke it from orbit like in times past.

That is, of course, until recently. I think there is a good case on principle to delete Facebook; I’ve stated similar thoughts on my blog before. That the company is, on some level, a threat to US democracy, foreign governments, and other societies, seems more than plausible. It appears to be fact at this point, given all the smoking hints since 2017 and now fiery hard evidence with the Facebook Papers. There’s a lot to be said against Facebook and global-scale social media in general, though I don’t wish to dredge it all up now.

Instead of reiterating Facebook’s problems, here’s a potential solution: one form of government regulation should enact a user count cap. Simply make a rule that says any social media site may not have more than 1 billion registered user accounts, and any social media company may not have more than 1 billion registered users. So in the case of Facebook with its three big apps: Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, all three apps combined cannot have more than 1 billion users. This simple rule would help contain global-scale reach, whether positive or negative. Given the amount of adverse effects worldwide as evidenced from Facebook, a user cap would mititage against such problems.

Surely there are other ideas to help; if you have some, please comment below. In any case, a question I ask is: are the net effects of Facebook more good or more bad? That is tough to answer. When the news media is in an uproar against Facebook’s latest misdeeds, it’s easy to think the company’s net effects are indeed negative; so delete it! When the calm follows the storm — and no elections, riots, coups, insurrections, or pandemics are taking place — the Newsfeed can seem like a happy bit of escapism from the daily grind, full of relevant ads for my favorite coffee and also funny animal videos. Yeah.

Bottom line: for now, I’m keeping my Facebook account, for better or worse, but am very close to deleting it again. Because of the years of repeated privacy problems fueling lack of trust in Facebook and seeing its ill affect on my own family and society in general, I really do think we would all be better off without Facebook. I wish the platform would crumble, not for glee over witnessing the mighty fall, but for the safety and sanity of billions of people, like myself, who can’t seem to escape its reach.

Facebook the company is too big and too powerful, and it still rests in the total control of one man. How does that not sound off more alarms? And where is the US government’s new regulations to rein in Zuckerberg’s reign? Isn’t it time to constrain and restrain social media?

Reset Your Digital Self

You know the flustered feeling that all your tech devices and social media services can bring? Turns out, the overwhelming mental clutter can be relieved. I’m not talking about a radical shift like Digital Minimalism, although that would help. It can be simple. In this case, I’m referring to an informative post with a few ideas for a Digital Reset.


Click over to the blog of Anil Dash and check out the list of steps he takes to regain control over his tech life. It’s straightforward and down-to-earth. I like the practical tidbits he shares.

Two of his key principles I especially want to echo here.

Fear Of Missing Out

First, if you decide to step away from social media, FOMO is not as bad as you think. The acute feeling of denial – that fear of not knowing what the latest cool meme is – subsides quickly, being replaced by tranquil relief from the onslaught of info overload.

Deliberate Data

The second principle is about all that info. It’s good to have only intentional info.

For me, the best way to have this is to not have any news feeds! So avoiding social media, I like to intentionally go to websites that I know and trust for certain info. I even use a DuckDuckGo search field to find new info – on purpose!

All it takes is a little clicking and typing and swiping – slightly more effort than mindlessly doom-scrolling Twitter or Facebook.

Addressing Algorithms

If or when I do interact with social media accounts, I like Anil’s idea of resetting the algorithms that fill the feed with stuff. Maybe if I un-pause my Twitter usage, I will likewise unfollow everyone, or at least do a massive purge and slowly rebuild the feed content.

This past week, I unfriended 76 people’s accounts on Facebook. I’m sure my newsfeed will look different now, but I rarely visit Facebook anymore. Shrug.

There are other ways to do a digital reset beyond social media. If it sounds like a good idea to you, go read Anil’s post. I think you’ll find it helpful.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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