Thursday, February 11, 2016

Buh-bye Facebook

It's been six months since I parted with Facebook.  I still have a profile there, and I can still access messages through my Messenger app, but I don't read anything except messages, and I don't post anything.

  Except for when I'm thinking about the cute pictures of babies I'm missing and the invitation to someone's Turducken party I don't have yet, I don't miss it.

A forum poster from way back in the 80s, at graduate school (my school being on the Internet before most) , I still find it a little strange that I hate Facebook so much.  In graduate school, I met all my friends online through "forums", or what we called "conferences."  If you wanted to read what was new in the conference, you signed on and scrolled down a list of topics and there was some kind of symbol or alert that let you know which topics had been added to.  If you wanted to read that topic, you opened it and could read all the posts on that topic.  Then you had a choice with each post you read:  Answer (or something like that); Pass; and Forget.  I thought the Forget command was essential to the whole deal.  If you "Forgot" something you would never see it again unless you actively did something to "un" forget it.  (Kind of like the "hide" prompt oon Facebook).

Years later I began participating in the Amazon Reviewers forum and met some incredibly good friends there.

So why do I hate Facebook so much?  Let me count the ways.

  • Facebook presents things as they're written on your timeline.  Except by blocking people after you've seen something bogus, you have no way to prevent things from showing up on your timeline before you see them.  And although you can "hide" someone's future posts (I did that to my Obama-votin' brother), you can't un-see the first one.  ( In a forum or a listserve, I can usually tell which topics I want to avoid, and just don't click on whatever I would need to to see the posts and additional threads.)
  • Facebook is just as in your face as other things on the internet, yet Facebook has no moderators.  I might catch flack from that from my voluntaryist friends, but I think there is  a place for moderators on social media.  And moderators work better if they know the group.  Mark Zuckerberg my be subtracting gun sellers from his advertisers and enforcing (rather draconian, at times) rules that affect Facebook at large, but on the regular timeline, there is not anyone who interacts regularly with me and my friends and family who can call someone out when they're throwing especially bad ad hominems at people or posting NSFW stuff all the time (and not warning that it's NSFW before it shows up on your timeline).
  • No matter how much it thinks it is, Facebook is not my living room.  I have found out family members are getting divorced on Facebook.  I have myself been drawn into arguments or even heated discussions that, later on, I really wished had been private and which impacted people I love.  I have lost least I've had long-time non-virtual friends unfriend me on Facebook and not let me contact them afterwards...and I believe it was because something I said was misunderstood OR because I said something I regretted later, but which my friend could not unsee.

Yes, all the things in the last paragraph could happen on a forum.  But all my friends and family members are not on all the forums I frequent!  Plus, I think Facebook gives the illusion that we're all sitting there with our phones or at our computer screens at the same time, like we're sitting around a great big campfire or something.  But we're not.  We're using the same medium that trolls and bullies use to say and do things they never would in person.  We know that when we're sending email and reading a techy-looking forum.  We just don't on Facebook, I think.

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