Facebook thoughts, 2021 edition

It’s time to metaphorically step back and take a look at Facebook again, that lovable scamp of the internet accused of everything from destroying democracy to poisoning all public discourse.

I do not make any effort to post on Facebook at present. In fact, the only posts that appear there are auto-generated from Instagram, and these consist entirely of photographs I take of flowers, birds, scenery and objects I find interesting or weird. I don’t post pictures of food or myself, though the occasional exception is made.

My time actually spent on Facebook consists of a few things:

  • Looking at the photos posted by a friend
  • Looking over the posts of other friends and family
  • Otherwise, getting out as quickly as possible

The friend’s photos I also see on Instagram (which is a surprisingly terrible site for posting photos, given that its origin was for doing exactly that), so it’s more a review of what I’ve seen, and FB does an admittedly better job at displaying them.

The friends and family list consists of a majority of people who never or rarely post, a few who post semi-often and a couple who post pretty much constantly. All of these groups overlap in that they post little original content—photos they’ve taken, thoughts that have popped into their heads, interesting milestones in their lives, funny things they’ve personally witnessed and so on. Most just re-post stuff they’ve found elsewhere or on FB itself. The whole “share and like” thing. Several of them often share the exact same “funny” story or “interesting” quiz.

It’s all basically a bunch of garbage and I ponder ignoring their posts (which is to say changing the settings to stop showing their posts but not actually blocking the people themselves), but there’s always the niggling thought that they might post something genuinely interesting and would I want to risk missing it?

So FB is pretty much now just a waste of time. It’s not a huge waste of time because I’m typically only looking at it for a few minutes, but I toy with the idea of just taking a good, long break from it and seeing what the consequences, if any, are. I wouldn’t flounce off dramatically or make a big deal out of it, I’d just stop checking it for a few months or something. Treat it as a kind of junk social media detox.

Now that I’ve written this out, the idea sounds more appealing. Maybe I’ll try it and see how it goes.

In the meantime, I really wish there was another social media site that was really just about people posting interesting photos, but I suspect there’s no viable market for that or it would exist already. Alas.

A brief post about privilege and the impact of social media

Today a lot of media sites are participating in support of an initiative, using the hashtags #TheShowMustBePaused and #BlackLivesMatter (not without some unintended consequences).

Here’s what you’ll see if you access Apple music right now, for example:

This is in response to the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by members of the Minneapolis Police force. Since word of the killing, complete with footage, came out on Monday, protests have formed around the world and particularly across the United States. Most have been peaceful, some have been violent, some have been infiltrated by white interlopers looking to make the peaceful protesters look bad by association with their destructive actions.

These protests against police brutality have been rife with even more police brutality, with people doing nothing at all being attacked, teargassed, and beaten. Journalists are being violently attacked. It is disgusting and lays bare just how perverted the police forces in the U.S. have become, interested more in oppression and violence than actually protecting people, especially when it comes to anyone whose skin color is not white.

I am a white man, about as privileged as can be. I am a member of a minority, but it is an essentially invisible one. Most people won’t know I’m gay unless I specifically mention it, or, I don’t know, wear nothing but Pride-themed clothing. But I am very obviously a white guy. I cannot conceive of the things black people must go through in the U.S.–or even in Canada, which has yet to exorcise its own racist demons. It fills me with anger and despair that people can so thoroughly let themselves be subsumed by hate in service of power and authority, of feeling superior to others.

And in the U.S. they are aided and encouraged by a terrible monster of a man, Donald Trump, who is leading the destruction of the country, lashing out and inciting from the basement of the White House, the windows dark at night as he huddles in safety deep below ground, a fitting place for an unrepentant troll.

The Verge has a story today on how Twitter and Facebook should just ban people like Trump, because their tweets and posts are fomenting hate and division, and getting people killed. I agree. This is just one story of many you can find like it on the web right now, but marvel at how a tech site–a place where you go to read about gadgets and reviews of MacBooks–feels compelled to publish an editorial like this. This is the world we live in now.

Ban them all by T.C. Sottek

Another “Here’s why Facebook sucks” story you don’t have to actually read past the headline

But if you do want to read it, here’s the link to the story on The Verge.

And the headline that reminds you that Facebook and most other major social media platforms are corrosive, terrible and bad:

Oh yeah, Facebook

I rediscovered Facebook tonight when I got an email alerting me to a request to have my password reset, a request I never made. Fearing hax, I visited Facebook to make my dust-covered, neglected account more secure and discovered about half a dozen people had wished me a happy birthday two weeks ago. I felt slightly bad for not acknowledging these birthday wishes in a timely manner, as I had turned off all notifications from Facebook at some point. I posted to let everyone know I was still around and would probably still only post about once a year or so. Then I made my account slightly more secure and closed the Facebook tab.

Like and share if you agree.

Social media links for the unsocial (me)

I’ve added a widget to the site that lists various social media links in handy and relatively non-obtrusive graphical form. You can find the icons listed under Archives. Right now these include links to my profiles on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Steam, Goodreads and My Fitness Pal.

As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to social media I take a less-is-more approach. Here’s my current activity on each of the above:

  • Facebook: used for messaging one friend. I log in just often enough for it to not pester me to log in due to inactivity.
  • Google Plus: similar to FB except without the messaging of a friend.
  • Twitter: I’ve made one ‘real’ tweet and a few to Nike’s support, which is primarily Twitter-based. Brevity is not my strong suit.
  • Steam: I play games on Steam, yes. Not as often as in days of yore but this counts as active.
  • Goodreads: signed up a few months ago, currently getting cobwebby.
  • My Fitness Pal: used every day but rather uninteresting as all I do is post meal and exercise updates. Heck, even I find it kind of boring.

If I find other sites to connect with and then ignore, I’ll be sure to link them here in the future.