Log Off and Start Living
In relation to my recent post on breaking up with your phone, I did remove Facebook from my phone. I also quit logging on to Facebook on my computer, both because it is a waste of time and increasingly has the appearance of diminishing our democracy. Facebook’s vice president for advertising Rob Goldman went on Twitter and made a string of posts that misrepresent to the extreme Facebook’s role in the Russian conspiracy to interfere in our 2016 election. Facebook did not correct these statements. Facebook continues to play its part in dividing the American people and muddying the waters of our democracy. I decided to stop giving Facebook my time because I don’t want to contribute to the problem. Although it has a few small benefits, mostly it seems to have negative effects on its users. I’ve been using it for a few years and I have to say I did not expect logging out of Facebook to affect me quite so dramatically, but it has.
Not checking Facebook has had a couple of unexpected effects. Firstly, I’m kind of lonely. Facebook provides the feeling of community and social interaction while you are in reality alone. As an introvert, that is almost ideal. It’s maybe a little too ideal, in fact. Without logging on to Facebook, I am more aware of my actual social interactions. Normally I don’t make a lot of plans for the weekends because it’s just too overwhelming, but I have been keeping an eye on my calendar and trying to make sure that I do have plans to look forward to so I can keep up with friends. Seeing friends in real life is a good thing! Has Facebook been impeding my social life this whole time?
Secondly, I don’t have an outlet for my anger at the world. Today in my typical news skimming I saw a headline that pushed my buttons. Normally I would log on to Facebook and either share the article with some commentary or go to a friend’s post and share my anger in a comment on their post. But today, I took a couple of minutes to digest my anger and I figured the best outlet for it was to call my representatives (as futile as that seems on many days, in my red state). I’ve been pretty active in calling my reps, but often that social media outlet defuses my anger enough that I end up not making the calls. Another win!
I also realize that much like my parents, I have a strong desire to share news articles with people! What in the what? That just makes me laugh. My parents used to clip articles and mail them to me, with red felt-tip pen (my dad always read the paper with one in hand!) underlining. I have absolutely inherited this tendency. Facebook is a good outlet for people like us, I suppose! But I should probably admit to myself that most people are not on tenterhooks waiting for me to share my opinions on important articles with them over the internet. I think a better idea is probably to keep articles in a commonplace book, as suggested by Ryan Holiday. In other words, share the article with myself, a willing audience. Or, heck, here’s a blog where I can talk about it. In fact, while we’re talking about this, here is an article that I’ve been thinking about ever since I read it. The Tyranny of Convenience by Tim Wu. Here is what he has to say about Facebook in the article:
“The paradoxical truth I’m driving at is that today’s technologies of individualization are technologies of mass individualization. Customization can be surprisingly homogenizing. Everyone, or nearly everyone, is on Facebook: It is the most convenient way to keep track of your friends and family, who in theory should represent what is unique about you and your life. Yet Facebook seems to make us all the same. Its format and conventions strip us of all but the most superficial expressions of individuality, such as which particular photo of a beach or mountain range we select as our background image.”
Also, How Facebook is Killing Comedy by Sarah Aswell, who interviews Matt Klinman from Funny or Die.
“[John] Herrman…also talks about how Facebook is essentially AOL 2.0. They’ve made little websites for everyone, from companies and individuals, and it’s all on their centrally planned internet. They control our memories, and it traps us there and makes us feel like we can’t leave. My family and friends are there, posting life updates I want to see. Then you start scrolling, and hours pass by, and you’re dazed. You might not even remember if you saw a cool thing, because it kind of all blends together.”
Klinman also cites this TED Talk by Zeynep Tufekci titled “We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads.” I feel like the title says all we need to know about social media.