Escaping the Existential Dread of Facebook

A 2019 approach to Facebook.

Facebook had a tough 2018, to put it mildly.  Bad news from all angles. Data leaks, data misuse, users in the dark about their data, loss in the stock market, and apologies that can be put on copy and paste. At times is seems as if the press has overblown the severity of certain issues as it relates to user security. That being said, Facebook has earned every ounce of criticism they receive, be it the New York Times or a random person with a blog.

What opened my eyes to the severity of Facebook’s negative public image was when longtime tech journalist Walt Mossberg announced he was leaving Facebook. I read his announcement on Twitter and found his explanation was written in a respectful and dignified manner.  Mr. Mossberg explained “it was is own decision based on his values”. He noted this was not a way to “spark some dump-Facebook movement”.  In other words this is not a delete Facebook thing.  He is doing it for his own reasons, you do things for your own reasons.

It hit me.. This is a “tech guy”. An industry insider. And he’s leaving.

Facebook Fading

It is easy to kick Facebook while it is going through a rough patch, however it is turning people off.  It may not be massive amounts of people, all at once, however Facebook has an issue on their hands. Back in March, Garett Sloane of Ad Age wrote an excellent article this. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have asked myself, why bother anymore.

My personal Facebook use as devolved to opening the app once, maybe twice per day, mostly to clear the little red notification icon.  Yes, I’m OCD enough where it makes me feel good to clear the little red bubble. And yes, I know it’s part of Facebook’s strategy to release those red bubble notifications on a regular basis as they know people will click. I bite anyways.

Oh so often the notifications are nothing more than to let me know an someone I worked with 17 years ago added to their story. If I care about anyone’s story I’ll stick with Snap. Instagram did well with their story feature, however the Facebook did not.  It seems lazy and lacks any creativity whatsoever.

Anyways, during those one or two short sessions, I am conscious of the time I spend going through the timeline.  I try to limit it to 60 seconds, unless something crazy is going on. It’s usually not a problem logging off in a quarter of the time.  I have literally zero reason other than my work has a group on there and the post rare, but useful updates. Other than that.. Existential Dread.

I’ll try to limit the rant here.

There is plenty of that to go around the internet. That, and I simply don’t care about the platform enough anymore.  I used to be an active participant. I even ran ads on there for a bit. However there came a time where it simply wasn’t fun anymore.  I can point to the time frame of Spring or Summer 2016 when I lost interest. The Clinton – Trump election was well underway and I couldn’t stomach anymore of it.

Without getting into Russian ads, Politicians, etc. the whole damn platform has really become a cesspool for vile comments, thoughts, and scoldings. That was two plus years ago, and things have not changed. I’m not sure if Facebook has a bot problem, the way twitter does, or maybe people are actually that angry.  I seriously can’t come across a high engagement post where there is any level of a civil, respectful conversation. This goes across the news outlets, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, local news, it doesn’t matter.

Is there a bot problem?

I understand that politics, guns, religion, etc. becomes emotional. It can bring out real passion, along with the worst aspects of human behavior. The Facebook Timeline provides the perfect platform for those nasty human aspects to be put on full display. Looking at some of the user accounts, the ones really throwing gasoline on the fire, I noticed similarities.  Most of them had their “add friend” option inactive, limited posts shown to the public, a couple per year maybe. They all seem to like to take a “blame the victim” approach.

Are these bots? Am I overthinking things? Are the similarities just coincidence?  Sure it’s possible. I haven’t done enough due diligence on the issue. It’s a bit easier on Twitter. Their are sources dedicated to tracking bots. This might forever remain a mystery to me.

And then it turns into a Cesspool

Typical example: Tragedy happens, news reports. Well meaning people say something kind, offers condolences. Shit starter enters, makes inflammatory comment. Offers nothing productive. Question the legitimacy of the report, call it fake news, hurl insults, on and on.

Bots or human, the whole purpose is designed to piss people off. This type of conversation has been going on for a long time, and it’s not likely to go away. Yes, it is a Cesspool. Facebook equals Existential Dread. Solution: Remove or reduce your use of the platform.

Computer in Dark w Desk Light

As far as ads, I’m curious if I have ever made a purchase in my life based on a Facebook ad.  If something such as a Target ad has run across my screen, than yes I’ve made a purchase. I can say with certainty, I have never clicked into an ad, navigated through the site, select a product to buy, pulled payment out of my pocket, and clicked purchase. For all the praise Facebook gets on the strength of their ad platform, I wonder how much is pure hype, and how much leads to real sales. That’s another article for another time.

I see the argument on other networks that “I’d like to leave but my family is on there” or “That’s where I do business”.  Also, I understand that some people need to keep an eye on their kids or they are doing real business and leaving the platform would affect sales.

This is not a hard problem to solve.

To be clear, I don’t care who leaves Facebook and who stays. That is up to the individual. We have a lot more info on the goals the Facebook than we did a few years ago. Consider what those goals are and ask yourself if it’s time to go, or carry on the with using the platform as normal.

Personally, in the last year, I have deleted all photos, tags, header, location, employment and education.  All that is left of my profile is my name and image. I don’t hit the like button, nor do I comment on anything.  This has been the simplest approach for me without going through full deletion. If they are honest with their metrics, I guess I’m considered an “active user” though I drag down countless other statistics.  I don’t interact, watch videos, use their Watch feature.

If you are unsure, my suggestion is simple. Reduce time spent on the platform. Be conscious of the time, and give yourself a goal to log off.  Be truthful with yourself on what interaction really matters to you. Is it important to leave a comment, leave a like, reply to someone you disagree with?  If there are any sites that you enjoy that you are lead to by facebook, consider using a browser to go that site. There’s ways to navigate the internet the way we used too.  Heck, you might find a whole lot of content you might not have known existed.

Well thats, that.

Thank you for Reading

Before I go, here are some 2019 changes I would like to see online!