It’s no secret that I despise social media, especially given that little graphic over there on the sidebar, but just in case it isn’t perfectly clear, I find it, all of it, to be pointless, puerile, and in most cases, manipulative and antisocial. I had a Facebook account for a couple of years I believe, begun solely to suss out some things for my employment at the time, and I made an effort to ‘use’ it socially while I had it. Long story short: it did nothing for either the employer or myself, and I dumped it the moment I left that place anyway – that was eleven years ago. Even during that time, I wasn’t at all pleased with the outright statement that if I posted photos, Facebook could use them as they saw fit, essentially denying copyright. So even the supposed benefit of ‘exposure’ (which is a standing joke among photographers and artists) was thwarted when I refused to post anything that I found really decent.
In the time since, all the stories about the tracking of personal info and habits, and the security breaches and outright manipulation of its users, came as no surprise, only convincing me that I never should have even contemplated making an account in the first place. Watching the amount of blatant misinformation and distinct mob behavior that has arisen since makes me wonder why anyone even bothers.
And then there’s this. Frances Haugen used to work at Facebook, and provided a ton of information to the federal government about their practices, and then allowed 60 Minutes to do an interview. The basic upshot of it all is, Facebook targeted and maximized its shitty content, regardless of any demonstrable inaccuracy and well aware of the negative affects on the users and to society at large, because it enhanced time on the site. In other words, fuck everybody, we’re making money.
The faintly amusing bit about this is how it’s being reported on the various news providers, which followed the exact same business plan for decades – perhaps not to this extent or with as precise data about the impact, but let’s face it: getting people pissed off has been a priority of news media for a very long time. There has not be an unbiased news source for at least my lifetime, probably since just after its inception (look up William Randolph Hearst for giggles,) but granted, some sources are a hell of a lot worse than others. For both social media and choice of news outlets, too many people consider ‘the lesser of two evils’ to therefore be okay, citing the reasons why some alternate source or outlet is to be despised, but quite frankly, if they all suck even a little bit, why patronize them at all?
Now, I never got into the entire begging for feedback and validation thing, and never felt that I needed to display the minutia of my life nor see anyone else’s, so I really cannot fathom the appeal of social media in the slightest. On occasion, I find that some participant or other says something amusing or pithy with some regularity, obtained peripherally through other websites, and have briefly contemplated whether directly ‘following’ them might be more entertaining, but immediately realize that all of the interesting content quickly gets disseminated to those peripheral outlets anyway, so why bother?
So, here’s my recommendation: dump it all. For a month, or even a week. Forget about the inane horseshit that people post, and suppress the urge to post your own. Just try it. See what happens. See if not hearing about where Rob-Bob and Antibella went for dinner really makes a difference in your life. Enjoy the moment, not the potential to brag about your trip to the southernmost point on the continental US (people have already seen it anyway.) Did some politician say something? Yeah, they blather a lot, but never really provide anything useful. Did something make you angry? Chances are very good that it was intended to do so, and you’re simply playing into the game.
Most especially, live your own life, not the life that anyone wants to dictate to you. Don’t feel obligated to fit into some preconception of ‘social’ expectations, and the amount of views/likes/attaboys/shiny little gold-colored paper stars doesn’t make the faintest difference to anyone. Don’t take my word for it – find out for yourself.