Facebook is a social media behemoth and shows no signs of going away any time soon. But, should you curb your use of the popular network?
Social media has been both a boon and a curse. Staying in contact has never been so easy, but, on the flip side, the spread of the mundane, the fake or the malicious has reached epidemic levels. If you have a Facebook account, consider what you see in your feed.
- Re-posts of news articles which are of dubious origin (fake news or tabloid rubbish).
- Articulation of social or political views which could be seen as tedious at best or at worst, hugely mis-advised.
- Boasts or gloating (look at my perfect life).
- Adverts. The fucking adverts…
When Facebook started it was a good way to share pictures of your recent shenanigans and to stay in contact with people who you either hadn’t seen for ages or had lost contact with completely. Fabulous and noble origins. The most annoying thing we had was a ‘poke’ which was kind of weird, but apart from that it was pretty simple.
As it progressed we had the opportunity to play games which started to intrude on our feed (remember Farmville anyone? Or whatever it was called). Then we had the opportunity to check in somewhere and suddenly wherever you were someone in the corner was tagging you in a post and checking you into the local pub, for some reason.
Fast forward 15 years (yeah for real) and we now have this massive intrusive network which can read our messages and send us adverts based on private conversations.
Never mind any of that though. The sheer time sucking mundanity of it all is for me the biggest and most damaging aspect of Facebook. The endless scrolling through posts about, I don’t know, someone asking for plumber recommendations or complaining about Donald fucking Trump like any of their opinions on the matter have any weight. And that’s the thing – people scroll through this shit for hours. I know cos I used to be one of them and also because I’ve seen people do it. In fact, people walk along the road scrolling through Facebook because it’s that fascinating.
OK, it’s not fascinating but as one of the original Facebook investors said, they hook you in and they make you come back. Those ‘likes’, the ‘you might be interested in’, the news posts (most of which aren’t true) and even the spacing of certain posts are all designed to keep you hooked. In fact, Facebook has even admitted that Facebook is bad for you. Investors and originators of the site keep coming out and saying how bad the site is. Read what this guy says for example… And this guy. Oh and this guy…
In case you don’t read those articles here’s the common theme: Facebook knows what it’s doing, it’s hooking in people and making sure they come back every day for more.
Now I’ve spoken to lots of people about this and they tend to say the same thing:
- I’m never really on it.
- I only use it to stay in contact with people who I haven’t seen much.
- I know it’s full of shit.
Those same people tend to do these things:
- They’re always posting and liking comments, posts etc and seem to be running multiple long conversations every time they log in.
- They seem to chat extensively to people they live down the road from. And… Those same people are pretty crap with direct communication such as text, Whatsapp or even phone calls!
- They repost the same shit that everyone else does without fact checking…
The eagle eyed among you will probably spot that I wouldn’t know these things unless I was always on Facebook. The answer is, yes, I go on Facebook mostly to post stuff (like this article) and to promote one of the multiple blogs/magazines I’m running. Such is the nature of Facebook that you tend to have a few messages and notifications so you end up having a look and then… Woooop…. Shit, I’ve been on here for half an hour.
Truly though, I avoid Facebook as often as possible, I don’t have the app on my phone or tablet, I don’t have their awful messenger app and I usually wait until I have several things to do on the site before I go and log on. I literally never go on to waste time and browse. Don’t believe me? Check my profile (or don’t, I don’t care).
Every time I log off I have a dirty feeling that my soul has been soiled a bit. Sorry people – it’s no comment on you guys (well, not all of you) but the way Facebook works makes me hate the world a bit more.
On the subject of you guys. I did a thing a few years ago where after a particular trawl through the FB I saw so many gloats, boasts, self promos, perfect pictures and reposts of utter shit that I deleted probably two thirds of my Facebook friends (including several good friends) and then about a week later deactivated my profile. Funnily enough this translated to several people getting a bit shitty with me in real life because I’d deleted them off Facebook, like the site is somehow related to how I feel about them in real life.
Here’s a thing. You might be a great person; funny, engaging, fun, really good looking etc. But if you’re one of those people online who is a bit tedious then I’m afraid I have no reason to be your Facebook friend. And Facebook is probably the only site where there is that social stigma. Instagram, Twitter – whatever, if I unfollow you there you probably won’t notice or care.
But, does Facebook make you stupid? I’d argue that yes it does and here’s how:
- If you’re walking along the street reading your Facebook feed then you need to seriously look at your addiction to Facebook. People actually get killed walking into the street or driving while looking at their feed.
- You spend ages crafting tedious monologues and then check back regularly to see how many likes or comments you’ve got. Sorry, but get a life. Or maybe write a book about it or something.
- Posting attention grabbing statuses which are basically looking for sympathy or some sort of ego massage. Anything from ‘Can’t believe what happened today [insert emoji here]’ through to a rambling gloat about how magnificent your life is. Fuck. Off. Innit.
- You know whats going on in peoples lives even though you haven’t seen them for 10 years. This is one of the main reasons I stopped posting on FB in the first place… Both you and they spend too much time on Facebook. Go to the pub or something.
- You’re slack with responding to phone calls, texts or direct messaging but you do spend ages having pointless conversations and arguments on Facebook.
So here’s my plea.
Avoid Facebook. Delete the app off your phone and if you’re bored on the train, waiting for the bus, sat on the sofa… Whatever, don’t go on the site. Read a book, learn something new, listen to music. Anything. Resist that urge at the back of your brain to log on, flick through that never ending list of tedium and engage with some pointless conversation about I dunno, cloud formations (true story – maybe it says something about me but if I have to message you on Facebook over text, phone calls or whatsapp then y’know… Wtf).
Instead, do the good thing and actually talk to your friends directly. You’ve got a phone. Call them… If not face to face then maybe via text, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Facetime etc. You know, still social media but actually sociable.