Today’s article is more of a rant, but also a wake-up call for everybody out there who’s ready to listen and hopefully to Facebook as well. Today I decided to stop using Facebook. Today I realized, after trying for a couple of days to control the information I get to see on Facebook and make the social platform actually deliver stuff I am interested in seeing, that it is impossible. No matter what I did, no matter what I tried, it was impossible for me to reduce the number of crap that Facebook was throwing at me. And I’m not talking about sponsored content and ads – I don’t mind about those as I believe their number is acceptable. I’m talking about things I really don’t care about, shared by my Facebook friends.
I am a busy man. Just like most people out there, I have a job. Unlike most people out there, I am self employed, meaning that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Others are in different situations and they probably don’t care too much about the problem I have with Facebook and the way it bombards me with time wasting spam. But everybody should care!
I realized a couple of days ago that I spend an awful lot of time on Facebook, checking out statuses from people I barely know. The guy I met once and added on Facebook keeps sharing dirty articles on Facebook and they appear on my Timeline. That girl I exchanged three words with and added on Facebook loves to share photos of kittens and dogs. I have old high school friends that I haven’t seen in ages who bombard my Timeline with photos of their wonderful kids. I see status updates. Check-ins. Likes and shared articles. Photos of food. Vacation pictures. Funny memes, inspirational quotes. My Facebook timeline is the internet itself and it’s full of things I don’t really care about.
So when I realized that I am spending so much time ingesting content from people I don’t really care about (sorry, girl I tried to date but never worked out; sorry, high school pal that I’ll never ever see again in my life!)… as I was saying, when I realized that I am spending so much time ingesting content from people I don’t care about, I did what any sane person would do: I decided to stop following those people. It took me a while to first unfriend a ton of people I had no idea who they were. Out of the 300 and something left, I started unfollowing a ton.
I was happy. I was finally starting to get control over my Facebook timeline and I was finally going to get updates I cared about. Or so I hoped.
Because it didn’t happen.
People that I though posted rarely on Facebook started to appear on my Timeline now. I was starting to get shares and likes and memes and other crap from people that I was actually interested in following. I want to know what my aunt does, I want to check out her photos and I would love to read her status updates. But I don’t want to see the articles she shares with her geriatric friends. I don’t care to read articles about asylums, breakthroughs in God-knows what disease or read a recipe for chocolate fudge.
I only want to know what my friends and family do. See the photos they upload. Read their own thoughts. And that’s it!
I started investigating how to do that: how to hide articles and photos that my Facebook friends like and/or share. It seems that a while ago you had a lot of control on what would appear on your Timeline (being able to tick off comments, shares and likes), but that’s no longer the case. You now have no control over that and you are bombarded with stuff people close to you do and share and like. Which might make sense for many, but I don’t care about that. I am busy, I don’t have time to waste – and neither should any of us have.
We have no control over what Facebook throws at us and it’s actually our friends and acquaintances who do the dirty work!
I started unfollowing even more people (sorry, auntie!) hoping that reducing the number of people I actually follow will reduce the time I’m wasting scrolling down my Timeline. It didn’t happen.
I believe that Facebook has a sort of an algorithm – or better said a quota of stories that it has to throw at you. You have a news feed and that should constantly be fed with something, so that you’re always hooked, that you’re always there, scrolling down like a zombie and ingesting stuff you don’t really care about.
The fewer people I had, the more I had unfollowed, the more I had selected to “see less like this”, the more crap I was getting from people I actually cared about.
In the end, I was only left with very few, very close friends as well as family. I started hating them all: Facebook was starting to share with me all their likes, their comments, their shares. Everything that didn’t matter to me at all.
I had no control over Facebook, I had no control over what it shows me and no matter what I try to have it only show the things I care about, I can’t.
So I have decided to quit Facebook completely. I will no longer use it. I won’t delete my account, though because I still want to be able to check out on people I really like and want to know more about. And it will be easier: will I ever want to know what my old pal Matt from college is doing nowadays? I will simply visit his profile, check his photos and status updates. Do I want to know who my first girlfriend is dating? I will simply visit her profile and see.
Time wasted using this method: close to zero.
I am slowly getting my life back and I won’t miss any of that. I will actually have more time for myself, for doing stuff that matters. Either way, I already instantly forgot 90% of the things I saw and read during my endless browsing down my Timeline. It’s true that I would laugh at jokes, at memes, at videos… but I would immediately forget them because more would come, just as fun, just as interesting, but just for the moment. I don’t gain anything except from the illusion of instant gratification. And I’m sick and tired of illusions!
I one of those guys who grew up without Facebook, without smartphones and without as much technology as we have today. I managed to survive and live well without knowing, all the time, where all my friends and acquaintances are, what they’re doing and what their thoughts are. I don’t really need to know what they eat every time they go out, who they’re meeting with and what they do. I don’t mind being able to know that, but I prefer to choose the moment I do. And if Facebook doesn’t allow me to just receive the information I want, then Facebook is not something I need.
What do you think? Do you consider me a Neanderthal who just can’t accept and understand the modern world or you agree – at least a little bit – with my pain and sadness? (And yes, you can share this on Facebook, ha!)