Sunday, October 11, 2015

Unfollowing Facebook

Those of you that have been following for a while know that I absolutely hate Facebook.  I do.  Truly.  With a passion.  Twitter is worse but I'm not on that site so that hate doesn't burn as hot.  Of course, if I were forced to write a list of things I hate it would be really long and have to get updated on a daily basis but FB would be near the top.

I was active on it for a year or two when it was still "new" and "cool", like everyone else, but quickly got annoyed by all the BS everywhere.  I don't give a shit about what some one-time friend had for lunch, or what motivational poster they liked.  Also, the loss of privacy, the transparency of everyone's information about every little detail of their life was terrifying.  When I was in college I did a report on how ridiculously easy it is to steal identities that scares me to this day (really, all you need is a full name and a birthday).  But it's not just criminals, there's Facebook stalking, potential employers, trolls, skeezy family members (I have stories), and all the other creepy shit that happens online.

It ate up time and had almost zero benefit so I stopped using the site.  Unfortunately, by now it's such an institution that half the people I know don't text or call anymore, they just update FB, so I couldn't delete my account without damaging my ability to communicate with friends and family (the ones I give a shit about anyway).  So, I put all the privacy settings on maximum, deleted as much info off my profile as possible (it doesn't even know where I live), and just avoid the site as much as possible.  I have it set so that if I get a message it emails me, otherwise I never check it.  Never.  I think the last time I posted something was a year and a half ago, the one before that was probably just as long ago.

The other day someone told me that there is a feature on FB where you can control who's posts show up in your feed by blocking them.  Yeah, I'm that out of touch with the site.  This afternoon I'd gotten an email that one of my long time friends had sent me a message, it wasn't anything important, but since I was on the site I thought I'd try out this blocking feature.  That turned into an hour long marathon.

Yup, I had a block-fest.  Throw in some beers and a lot of reminders of why I'm never on the site and you have a party.

Haven't seen you in a year?  Blocked.
Obscure relative I've never met?  Blocked.
Coworker that I never really liked?  Blocked.
High School classmate that I haven't seen in fifteen years?  Blocked.
Friend I haven't talked to in years, lives in some place I'll never visit?  Blocked.
Friend of a friend of a friend?  Blocked.
Some person I knew for a couple weeks years ago?  Blocked.
Old bosses?  Blocked.
Current coworkers?  Blocked.
Random acquaintances?  Blocked.
Person who updates every five minutes and never anything important?  Blocked.
Exes?  Blocked.  Well, some of them.  About half.

Basically, if they were a person that I didn't have a chance of sleeping with, weren't family, or a few select friends (very few), they were blocked.  I don't know how many "friends" I have, don't care, but now only a very select group actually show up in my feed.  Maybe ten people.  Which is good.  Cat posts on FB all the time, photos and updates that include our daughter, it frustrated me that I couldn't stand the site and missed all that.  My dad is also a really talented artist that posts his work, I've been missing all that, not to mention updates on the rest of my family.

Maybe now I'll be able to visit the site for five minutes without feeling like I'm going to throw up.  Probably not, but maybe.

******

Update:  I started this post last week when I did the purge, something I wouldn't mention except that FB has once again dragged itself into my personal spotlight in a very negative way.

A couple years ago I bought my daughter a Kindle Fire.  She loves to read and it also had games and videos, it was a good idea at the time.  When it died a couple weeks ago I sent her a newer version.

Cat and the rest of us family had been discussing ways for our daughter to be more in contact with everyone while they live so far away.  One of the first ideas that was tossed out was getting her a FB account.  I was firmly against it and suggested a gmail account instead.  She's ten years old, I don't want her anywhere near social media.  I know that she'll fall into that black hole sooner or later but I was determined to keep it as much later as possible.

I don't know if you've read the studies on how social media fucks with the brain, but it does.  It lowers the attention span, creates an immediate gratification complex, worsens in-person relationships/communication and it's literally addictive... and that's not even including the trolls, bullies, freaks, criminals, loss of personal information security, lack of content (parental) controls, and all the other crap that comes with being active online.

As far as I'm concerned, brains that are still growing should absolutely be protected from all of that.  If a person isn't built up in real life, confident in themselves and their relationships, that they HAVE a real life, they shouldn't be online.  How many times have we seen some pre-teen commit suicide over online bullying?  They're already at a sensitive time in their life, all the growing and hormones, they don't need the extra crap.

I figured a gmail account was the best option for my daughter.  Cat and I could give her all the email addresses for family, she could video chat and send pictures, and we could control content and access.  Easy communication with few risks.

Well, when the new Kindle showed up Cat decided to get her a gmail account... and sign her up for FB, despite my misgivings.  Don't bother with any parenting or ex-wife criticism, it's complicated and we do the best we can.  Let's just say that I got overruled.  I'm disappointed but not entirely surprised, Cat herself is on FB all the time.  In some ways FB is an awesome way to stay connected with family, share photos and updates, etc.  That's what Cat uses it for and that's why I wanted to clean up my feed so I could see all the stuff that I wouldn't see otherwise (she's terrible at contact other than on FB, unfortunately).

Like mother, like daughter.  She's only had the account for a few days but has already put up a ton of photos and posts.  The rest of the family is thrilled, of course.  All the grandparents and aunts and uncles are really happy to get to see her adventures and the back and forth.  They're encouraging her and reinforcing it all, I am alone in the anti-FB camp.  She's going to be growing up on social media, how the hell can that be good for her?  I can only hope that my anti-SM stance will help keep her grounded.

While I'm definitely not happy, I have to say that there are benefits.  I got to chat with her this weekend, which was really nice and see photos from a recent trip they took.  However, as far as I'm concerned there are far more cons than pros in this equation.

A perfect example, the account has only been opened for a few days and Cat just posted a very angry message on our daughter's page, reminding our friends and family that they need to watch what they post or they'll be blocked.  Judging from the tone it was bad.  Really bad.

And so it begins.

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