I Came Here For You (an Essay about Facebook)

When I joined Facebook, I did so to participate in an online community. I marveled at its ability to connect people. And I still believe at its core, it is a good tool (current media, data security and market volatility not withstanding.)

But I feel we have become lazy with it. I feel it has been hijacked by marketers, fame-grabbers and noise.  I take personal responsibility for allowing too many empty or distant connections that, because of Facebook’s messy algorithm, really clouded my experience. I see entirely too much of what I do not care about, and not enough of what I came to be a part of. I cannot begin to understand why I am not shown the new posts of my dearest friends until days later, or why my newsfeed is filled with the chain-linked activity of people I nearly never interact with or worse, do not even know.

Because of this and other frustrating aspects (such as being forcibly stranded in the cacophonous shouting match of news media, politicians, entertainers and advertisers), Facebook is losing its place in my life. It has become ridiculous. I’m not completely sure how to restore it back to a useful tool, but I do not want to give up on it yet.

I’ve pondered this thoughtfully, reluctant to simply disappear from a platform that affords such incredible power. I am going to try a few ideas, to see if they help. For now, I am slowly unfollowing those who do not share their own words, or those whose primary Facebook activity is in sharing the content of other pages. I am also hiding/unfollowing those who participate with clickbait links, like quizzes, “you’ll never believe what he did next!,” sensationalized videos and celebrity opinions. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but for me, it’s just enough.

We’ll see if that helps, or if more drastic action is needed to discipline Facebook back into a valuable experience.

Maybe I’m weird, or in the minority, but I know why I came to Facebook originally. I came for you. I came to hear your voice. That is why I’m still on it, and why it’s worth trying to stay.

I say unfollowing because I’m not deleting. I still love these people and want to be connected and available. But I have not yet thought of good argument for why the clutter of their Facebook experience should have equal weight for my attention with people I am closely invested with. If I unfollow someone, but they come to heart or mind, I can go and look in on them. I can reach out, and I remain available.

I don’t have interest in downloading filtering tools or spending more hours simply overlooking the chaff. It’s not likely an exaggeration to say I have cumulatively spent hundreds of hours mentally filtering Facebook fluff, skimming hundreds of empty posts a day to stumble upon the handful of real ones. This is time I could be tuning into life, and into real flesh-and-blood relationships. It’s not that I don’t have time—I obviously did. But I feel it is being misspent, and irresponsibly so. It would be more accurate to say: I don’t connect with much of it—and am not interested in trying to any longer.

I’m serious when I say I came to Facebook to be part of people. The real ones, not posts sculpted to seduce, or the tone-deaf echo chamber of the internet. I remain in pursuit of the original idea: a platform by which we can build community and exchange communication and ideas.

I can’t force Facebook to change, but I can change how I interact with it.

 

I realize it is ironic I didn’t post this on Facebook. To be honest, I just couldn’t deal with the noise.

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