Life

In case you were wondering why you don’t see me on Facebook very much anymore

I deleted Facebook and Messenger from my phone. They’ve been gone about ten weeks now.

Back in March I wrote this post about how Facebook is occasionally enjoyable, and how that’s been enough for me to keep coming back despite not enjoying it much otherwise. It got me to thinking: why do I spend so much time in something I don’t really enjoy? That’s when I said goodbye to the apps.

Until a few years ago I genuinely liked Facebook. It was great fun to connect with people from all phases of my life. My Facebook friends used to share more from their lives, writing a line or two about something they were doing, or sharing a photo they took. I know they shared only the portion of their lives they wanted others to see and framed it in only positive light. But it was fun anyway.

Now it seems that most people just share memes and articles. And I don’t usually enjoy the subject matter:

Your posts about the second amendment and gun control aren’t going to change my mind on the matter, or anybody else’s, either. We’re only going to alienate each other.

I consider myself to be politically conservative. Now, I weep for how far off the rails the Republican Party has gone. I pray for its restoration to sanity. Still, the basic principles of conservatism resonate with me. It genuinely hurts when you post things that put down my politics. I am not the monster you make out conservatives to be.

And to my conservative friends, I’m equally disappointed and offended when you put down the other side. They aren’t monsters either. Like us, they are people trying to figure out the best way forward.

To both sides, if you call the other side names (e.g., “libtard”), I’ve already unfollowed you.

I’ve been incredulous over how many shared so-called “news” articles in my feed are thinly veiled opinion pieces or have used poor, even deliberately manipulative, forms of argumentation. Do you actually believe this crap? Have you spent any time evaluating these articles’ illogic? Have you sought to understand these matters from other perspectives?

That leaves the cutesey and heartstring-plucking shares. And oh my gosh, are there ever a lot of them now. At least they don’t make me angry. But it’s not enough to keep me coming back.

In case you are one of my Facebook friends and now feel offended because I’m pointing a finger at you, I’m sorry.

I get it: we are all troubled by the times we live in. We wring our hands, we air our fear and anger, and we seek friends of like mind to help us feel better.

But it is hurting, not helping. It is alienating us, not knitting us together. It is making Facebook a wasteland, not a place where we can enjoy each other even if from afar.

View from US 50 in Martin County, Indiana

If I’ve offended you, here’s a placid landscape photo to calm you.

Even though the apps are gone from my phone, I still check Facebook on my computer once or twice a day. My blog posts automatically post to Facebook each day and I want to see if anyone commented on them there. Also, I follow a couple groups there that remain fun.

For the first couple weeks with Facebook gone from my phone, I was at loose ends when I had idle time. I’ve since downloaded the Kindle app and am reading more books. That feels like a giant win.

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63 thoughts on “In case you were wondering why you don’t see me on Facebook very much anymore

  1. Shirley says:

    Well done! I block the original sites of every political post people share. In addition I liked a few positive pages. It makes my Facebook page much more enjoyable to read.

    Like

      • Shirley says:

        Luckily there are enough positive posts left 😁 which makes me happy. Also, the majority of my regular contacts are European and politics seems to be less important here. That said: I also block political posts about issues in my own country.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Clare Hennessey says:

    Hi Jim. I am no longer interested in Facebook either, it’s all about power, money and control by people who actively sell our information, it is inherently corrupt and immoral in the way it seeks to influence world events. The sooner it’s gone, the better.

    Like

  3. I feel ya. I have not yet taken this step, but I also don’t spend much time there anymore either. I check my notifications but don’t scroll obsessively through the newsfeed like I once did.

    It is my sense that we are not alone.

    Like

  4. BRAVO, Jim!
    Regardless of “political leanings,” for the sake of our country and civilization I hope your thoughts on how we (don’t) get along are those of a relatively silent majority.

    Like

  5. George Denzinger says:

    Jim, you cover a lot of my feelings in your post. I too have less involvement with FB; much of it has to do with screen time. I sit in front of a computer every day of my working life; I want to spend less time in front of a screen. Some of the issue with FB is the politics, I’m sure I’ve lost friends because of my (IMO moderate) views, which is fine. Algorithms that filter what/who I see on my feed bothers me, suggested friends who are separated five times from folks I actually know bothers me are a couple of the other odd things that bother me about FB.

    I still use it to keep in contact with far-flung relatives here in the US and Europe, although they don’t post as much as they used to. I’m one of those guys that will post funny memes, strictly to amuse myself and my friends. I change my cover pic to whatever neat car I find on Google Pics and when I get a new photo of myself that I like, I’ll change that out, too.

    But it’s no longer the fun activity it used to be…

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are some people I’m in touch with only because of Facebook, and that’s one reason I haven’t quit it entirely. It’s just that wading through the dreck to get to them is kind of no fun.

      Like

  6. Bob Burt says:

    Amen! To your comments. From a disadvantaged Republican (Vietnam vet) in California. I’ll just keep playing with my great film SLR’s

    Like

  7. Jim, I suppose no one really needs FB. FB had its time and its chance and it finally failed to become something positive in this world. I left two years ago when the changed their privacy policy and I do not regret, as things have become even worse. The guy who founded it has either lost control over every aspect of this platform … or he exactly knows what’s going on. Both version are so sad and I do not need algorithms and filter bubbles telling me what I have to see.

    Like

    • It didn’t just fail – the company made decisions that led it to its current state. I don’t know whether they meant this to be the state or not, but their choices absolutely led the platform to its current place.

      Like

  8. DougD says:

    Well done Jim. Seems like you’ve got some great people in your “real” life that you can spend more time with.

    I enjoy our political interaction, I’ve learned quite a bit from you :)

    Like

  9. Nobby knipst says:

    I quit facebook some years ago and leave forever. If you do not share the opinion of your “friends” but think for yourself, you will be shouted down. The facebook crowd admits only one opinion, namely theirs. So I go my own way and share my views with the really living friends next to me.

    Like

  10. Joshua Fast says:

    I’m with you 200%. I use facebook to share photos with my family and for buying/selling film gear on the Film Photo Gear group. I rarely read anything else in my feed. It seems every post is about Trump, guns, tide pods or food. Pass

    Like

  11. I’ve never been a big Facebook user, only maintaining my account to monitor the digital advertising I place as part of my job. On the personal side, I’ve found the analog photography groups I am a member of to be pretty welcoming, however whenever I ventured outside of that community, I’ve been alarmed at how vitriolic the Facebook world is. I applaud your digital diet.

    Like

  12. I am in the camp of keeping a Facebook account mostly because it helps keep in touch with some people. I think Facebook is most popular with the senior crowd. And since I am getting more firmly entrenched in that demographic, I know a lot of people there. Although I am getting to where I check it less and less. I know most of social media these days gets me to missing the days when politics and religion were not considered polite topics of conversation,

    Like

  13. Jim, well done on taking these steps, I applaud you not just for doing so, but for standing up and stating your (well thought out and argued) reasoning.

    At some point I’m sure a more positive and people-driven replacement will rise up. FB, Twitter, Instagram, all started with bright hopes and good intentions but these haven’t lasted.

    Anyway, congrats!

    (Curious whether your FB reshares of your Down The Road posts have got any less views/comments? Oh and do you plan to leave FB entirely?)

    Like

    • I’m considering stopping sharing my blog on FB now. It just doesn’t drive very much traffic here. I will however keep sharing my posts on Twitter. I have mostly photography-related followers there and they do engage a little with my tweets, enough to make it worthwhile.

      Like

  14. Great post, couldn’t agree more! Can’t stand FB anymore for the reasons you mentioned, especially the self back patting virtue signaling and political division where people lean so far either way they leave no room for a differing opinion, (no matter how logical). It’s rare when there is anything to be found of value.

    Like

  15. davidscorbett says:

    milk the rich n fix poverty with decent min wage over rich wages or big co. profits n move 100 ish poor familys into all mansions n big yachts n care for nature n spend 90% less on military in the world n dome moon mars n venus to live , n use the gas on venus as fuel to do it there

    Like

  16. Dani says:

    Well stated. For reasons similar to yours, I have unliked and unfollowed many this past year. I’ve threatened to uninstall but haven’t made it happen quite yet.

    Like

  17. Heide says:

    I find myself spending less time on Facebook too, exactly for the reasons you cite. But I am still calling out propaganda and encouraging friends to be civil — especially the youngsters who maybe haven’t absorbed the notion that their right to free speech comes with the responsibility to use it wisely. It’s probably naïve to think I can make much of a positive difference, but that’s become my mission when I log in. We’ll see how long this Pollyanna phase lasts, though. :)

    Like

    • So far not a single commenter has said they still love FB and still spend lots of time there. I’m sure this isn’t a statistically valid sample but it is interesting nonetheless!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t have the app on my phone either. I agree that Facebook has just become a hostile place lately no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. It’s sad that something that could really bring us together is only pushing everyone away :(

    Like

  19. SilverFox says:

    Absolutely well said Jim. I never use the fb app and haven’t installed the messenger one at all. There is very little on there for me that I can’t get elsewhere other than keeping contact with my family back home. The so called ‘news’ feed is as you say BS opinion and disguised hate and I avoid it. I would love if my family stopped using it as I could then ignore it completely.

    Like

    • I’m not sure I’d ever hear from my extended family or longtime acquaintances ever again if I didn’t have Facebook. That’s the unfortunate reason I haven’t canceled my account entirely.

      Like

  20. Dave Barnard says:

    I’m using FB less and less. It’s mostly my portal to family and genealogy related groups. Ultimately those could become blogs using WordPress — that means more work for someone. Or I could start my own family only related account. Twitter does not work with lengthy posts and real thought-pieces in my opinion.

    Like

  21. Ian Ronketti says:

    Pulled the plug on FB years ago. Never missed it. As regards political issues, Europe has these as well. On this side of the pond Brexit is causing all sorts of issues! How true the words of the prophet Jeremiah at chapter 10 and verse 23! Many people particularly in the analogue photography blogs I follow seem to be doing the same.

    Like

  22. Blinx says:

    I was only on Facebook for a few weeks some years ago, but found it almost completely vacuous. It was like some undemanding yet borderline unpleasant personality trait had manifested itself as internet software. Maybe I was overthinking it but it resembled a zoo, and the Cambridge Analytica monkey business came as no surprise.

    Like

  23. milehipentax says:

    I was reminded of this blog post after a Facebook exchange today. I should preface my story with a couple of points. 1) I really try to avoid politics on Facebook like the plague. My purpose on Facebook is to keep up with distant family and friends, share my photography, look at photos from other photographers I admire and participate in a few groups with subjects I enjoy (cameras and trains for the most part). 2) If you were to pin me down politically, I’m pretty middle of the road. I deliberately don’t affiliate with a party because no one party aligns with my ideology 100% of the time. Sometimes I lean right and sometimes I lean left. 3) While I do my best to avoid politics on Facebook, I will call out incorrect information when I see it and will support my position with factual information. I simply refuse to stand idly by when memes/pictures/articles are posted that are blatant lies made to support a cause. That goes for both sides of the aisle.

    Today, one of my photographic friends posted a picture of a football player burning an American flag in his locker room surrounded by his cheering teammates and coaches. A quick search at Snopes confirmed my suspicions that it was photoshopped. I simply posted the link to the Snopes article and stated that it was a fake picture. The response was that even if that was the case, they’re still disrespectful. And I responded that I wasn’t making any statement regarding that whole discussion, just that this picture was fake.

    Shortly thereafter, I received a string of FB messages accusing me of being a controlling person who refused to “loose” an argument and that the original poster knew everything about me politically and didn’t understand how I could be this mean after all the kindness that was shown towards me. When I tried to point out that I was merely stating that the picture was photoshopped and that it shouldn’t be used for supporting one’s cause, I was merely told that if I don’t agree with someone’s post, I should just keep quiet.

    The whole thing has me thinking about this article and wondering if Facebook is really worth it anymore. If simply pointing out that a photo is fake is enough to be considered a personal attack, do I really want to hang out there? I suppose I could take the poster’s advice and just ignore it but I really would much rather see people I consider friends make decisions based on truth.

    Even when I ignore the political vitriol, I seem to find myself unintentionally stirring pots sometimes. For instance, I’ll see pictures posted on my railroad and photography(!) groups that are copyrighted material and should be linked to, not posted. When I point this out – again backed up with relevant articles about copyright law — I’m usually called all manner of derogatory terms that would make a sailor blush. There seem to be a number of myths floating around about copyright law and some of these are so ingrained that it causes people to get angrily defensive when one tries to point out actual facts.

    All in all, it makes me wonder if the Facebook experience is worth it anymore. I kind of find myself spending more time on Instagram where the content is based much more around what I enjoy the most — seeing pictures from my family and friends (including friends I know only through the ‘net). It’s a much more positive experience for me. But I also find myself a little scared when I contemplate what it is about the Facebook experience that can cause decent, good people to become so defensive in such an ugly way that it’s impossible to comment on their posts unless one is marching lockstep inline with their thinking. Has Facebook and its impersonal platform caused us to lose all ability to converse and discuss politely and intelligently? Or is meme to be our new language and any position can merely be refuted by a diametric meme delivered with caustic name-calling? It’s scary.

    Like

    • I think people on Facebook behave as though they’re having a conversation in their living room with their most familiar friends, when in fact they’re having a conversation with everyone they’ve ever known on a street corner.

      I agree, Instagram is more fun as a social network. It is more limited in scope, but that tends to preclude so much politics.

      Like

  24. Pingback: In case you were wondering why you don’t see me on Facebook very much anymore — Down the Road – David's Blog

  25. I think social media is good far as bringing family and old friends together, but on the flip side it can destroy you and your family as well. Especially when people put not only their business, but our business out there as well. I myself go on there from time to time. Most of the time is by accident, pressing a button on my phone somehow and only then will I glance through it and might leave a post. Other than that I’ll leave that to the social media group.

    Like

  26. Hi Jim great article! First time I’ve read someone here talk about how far off the rails the Republican Party has gone. I’ve told many people this is in no way the Republican Party that I remember. The one I admired for their morals and high ethical values.

    Like

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