You don’t want another post where I talk about Facebook. You don’t. I know you don’t.
And yet, here we are. Take a deep breath. Here we go.
The complicated relationship I have with using Facebook continues to trouble me. I’ve considered just leaving (again), but the truth is that it’s not all bad. It has just enough good to keep me hooked, and enough awful to make me want to scream.
Facebook is a walled garden/echo chamber.
Facebook’s algorithm that determines what you see is based on what you click on or Like. Over time, you’ll see less of what you don’t Like, and more of what you do. This sets up an echo chamber effect, most often called the Filter Bubble.
A filter bubble is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. – Wikipedia entry for Filter Bubble
This is the biggest issue I have with the service: I’m not seeing what I want to see, but what Facebook thinks I want to see. The longer I use the service, the less likely it is that I will discover new things. Instead, I get the same subjects and arguments over and over again.
We Gather At The Extremes
Our world and our issues are nuanced. We’re a bunch of monkeys when we gather in groups, and instead of having reasonable discussions about the nuances, we shriek and throw poo at one another from either side of the cage. All discussions resolve to two sides, and there’s no real discussion to be had.
This has been a problem on the Internet for a long time, and recently it feels like we’ve hit a tipping point, where emotional appeals without facts and shouting the loudest is trumping a more thoughtful, reasoned approach. This terrifies me. We’re no longer watching the circus: we ARE the circus.
Most Updates Are Unimportant
I love my friends. I truly do. I don’t want to live in their heads all day long. It’s more rewarding for me to meet with them when I can and talk or catch up via email. The Wall on Facebook has always felt to me like the worst way to communicate with people. One person shouts out something, and the peanut gallery responds with whatever they think is witty and clever, and sadly, the response is usually neither.
I don’t see many conversations on Facebook. I see people shouting at one another, trying to be funny. I’ve done it myself, and I dislike that side of me.
Checking Facebook Makes Me Feel Awful
It’s true. When i check Facebook multiple times a day, I feel more stressed and less happy with my own life. More, I get angry more often because of all the previous points. I feel like I’m stuck in a loop, a monkey pressing a button waiting for a reward. I hate that feeling.
There Are People Writing Great Things on Facebook
I follow a few people who write genuinely thought-provoking things, but only on Facebook. They’ve either given up on having a separate blog, or their website is for their professional work and they don’t make their personal observations available outside of their Friends grouping. If they put that out on a blog, I’d subscribe to it. They don’t, and I would miss their perspective if I had to do without it.
It’s Feels Good To Be Adding Value
I enjoy it when something I’ve written or photographed resonates with someone. It’s rewarding to hear that something I have created meant something. It makes me want to do more of that.
I Like My Friends
I like seeing what people add to the world. They make me feel good, and something what they have to say is exactly what I need to hear.
Where I’ve Landed
I’ve been binary in my thinking on this subject in the past, leaving and then coming back. It’s not an easy thing. There are benefits on Facebook that I want to enjoy, so I cannot disengage completely.
I’m going to be checking Facebook less often for my own sanity and well-being, but I’ll still use it as a syndication service. I’m happy that people like my words and pictures, and I want to get them out into the world. It’s unreasonable to expect that everyone who follows me on FB would come to this blog and subscribe to an RSS feed.
This way, I might find some balance for myself. Everyone uses these things differently, I know. I want to be mindful about my usage. I want to make sure that it makes my life better, not worse, over time.