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 get in contact 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, and 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 I’ve posted something twice in the last three years.  There’s nothing going on in my life that I want to tell every person I know.

The other day someone told me that there is a feature on FB where you can control which friends’ posts show up in your feed by blocking them (without un-friending 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 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, if they don’t 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.  Our kid has 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 something really bad.

And so it begins.

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18 thoughts on “Unfollowing Facebook

  1. I have a nephew who is 10…turns 11 in Feb and I’m with you, it’s too young to be on facebook…But since your ex made the decision, maybe you can suggest that your daughter only be on it twice a week might make it less damaging?? I, personally love facebook because of the pics and announcements made…I had a close friend have a baby recently and she posted this “I missed the lunar eclipse. Instead, I birthed this sweet thing! Isaac, 6lbs 9 ounces, 20 inches long.” Had another nephew announced he’s getting married on facebook and said “Hello Facebook. Me and my girlfriend are engaged. I think that’s the kind of event Facebook is supposed to be used for right?” Ya gotta like posts like these =)

    • Actually, I do have a problem with posts like those in general. What would they have done before FB? People would have called each other or told them in person. Now they just post it on FB. And for people like me, that never visit the site, that means I never know what’s going on. I’ll call my Mom and she’ll be telling me all about something big I didn’t know about, I’ll ask when that happened, and the answer is always “Oh, well they put announced it on FB”. Weddings, births, reunions, etc. Nobody actually talks any more.

      Those are the best kinds of posts though, the ones that keep me from deleting my account. And your suggestion about limiting her time is a very good one. I’ll talk to Cat about that. 🙂

      • You know, you kind of sound like a cranky old man =) I do miss phone calls and letters but we are just in a different time now where it hardly ever happens…so we got to join the main stream and do what the kids do or we will be out of touch forever…

      • I keep telling people that, they don’t seem to believe me. 😉

        Out of touch forever? I’m pretty sure that’s what Mark Zuckerberg wants us all to think. I reject that reasoning. I think what’s happening now is that social media is the big, cool, new thing. People are always into the big, cool, new thing. Then the realities settle in, in this case I think it’ll be the realization that SM ruins relationships and sucks up too much time and, hey, there’s this thing called real life. That will start the pendulum swinging the other way, when it’s cool to not do so much SM stuff, until it finally settles somewhere in the middle, though it’ll be a decade or so before that happens.

      • It’s not as simple as “nobody talks anymore.” If you have to call EVERYONE or write EVERYONE to disperse news, it limits the number of people you can realistically stay in touch with. Part of the beauty of maintaining a lot of Facebook friendships is that at any given point you have the option of talking more deeply with anyone on your list when things come up.

        Do I really want to field 300 phone calls a day to hear about this person’s baby, that person’s wedding, another person’s preschooler’s clever-yet-morbid artwork? Hell no. But I do very much enjoy scrolling through all the various pictures of those events from people I knew in high school, people I went to basic training with, people I went to college with, people from my old job, people I randomly started conversations with, and many more categories.

        To answer your question – “What would people have done before FB?” The answer is – not stay in touch at all.

      • So, before the internet no one ever stayed in touch? No one communicated? Um, no. I would argue that we’d have much better relationships, just with a smaller group of people instead of more superficial relationships with larger numbers. If people had to call three hundred friends if they wanted to tell them about what they had for breakfast I doubt many would make that effort. On the other hand, if someone just had a baby than calling a few friends and family to let them know wouldn’t be a big deal.

      • Well, before Facebook I DIDN’T keep in touch with people from high school, people from basic training, people from college, other people from the military, people from my old job, etc. I simply didn’t have time. So in my case it IS a true statement, and I cannot be the only one. I had maybe 4 – 5 people at any given time that I was in touch with (plus my mom, but that’s different).

        Facebook does make it so I can see when all these people get married, have babies, have kids’ birthdays, get a new puppy, or whatever. I LIKE knowing all that about all those people, but no I don’t want to get 300 phone calls a day. To me, that is a very not-fun way of staying in touch.

        I will say that I, too, do not care what people had for breakfast, but thankfully no one in my friends list is that mundane (generally) so it’s not an issue for me.

      • The only “argument” present is:

        1) Facebook is awful and devalues our interpersonal connections

        vs.

        2) Facebook can be a great tool for expanding and broadening our interpersonal connections.

        We’ve already established that you’re a grouchy old man 😉 so of course you wouldn’t appreciate all the benefits.

      • Yeah, and I have a lot of evidence to back up my side of the argument, all you have is “I like it”. You do realize that they’ve proven that social media has an addictive quality that is comparable to drugs? Maybe it’s time to start weening yourself off. 😉

      • SM only ruins relationships if you allow it to…honestly, I feel if you have a healthy relationship where communication is good, SM’s not going to ruin it (none of my friends/family have had SM ruin their marriage). SM definitely is a “look at me” platform. Yet, I think I’m real and post about when things aren’t going my way. The two times I’ve been fired (whhhhaaat?!?! 2 times??) I posted it on facebook and the amount of love and support I received helped me get through those difficult days. Basically, i think SM is what you make of it….. just like life =)

      • I agree with most of that, but I think it’s also a slippery slope and could provide studies that back it up. With discipline and common sense SM can be fine, but I find both severely lacking most of the time. 😉

  2. Neither one of my kids is on FB. My son, who is soon to be 15, wanted it about 4 years ago and he gave up pretty easily when the answer was no. Nowadays I understand that that generation doesn’t really have much use for FB, preferring instead SnapChat and Instagram. We’ve had the talk – multiple times – and i feel fairly confident he is using them with some level of care. My 10yo daughter is NOT using any form of social media, and I’m keeping it that way. I know of several people who’ve allowed their young kids FB and I just don’t get it. It’s a recipe for disaster – they just haven’t developed those mature centers in the brain to use social media responsibly (or hell – even to know what that means). Not to mention these kids sending ME friend requests, which I delete not only out of principle but because I don’t want or need to be censoring myself. Even my 22yo brother – who attended a prestigious university in Texas and had hopes of working for NASA one day – posted a pic from a party on spring break with a bong in the foreground. I pm’d him a virtual SLAP and told him to Take. It. Down. I enjoy FB though, if for no other selfish reason than to post my blog. I learned how to block long ago, and the “unfriend” option is user friendly. 😉

    • That’s smart. I don’t think kids should be online much, if at all. Everybody talks about raising their kids right, eating right, getting enough physical activity… yet they allow them to spend so much time online or on their phones.

      You mention using it responsibly, and the story of the 22 yo. Combine lack of impulse control with everything online lasts “forever” and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. 🙂

  3. **Applause*** Isn’t that blocking feature awesome!?! As soon as I found it, I did the same thing as you. But I have less than 100 friends and I also only use it to keep up with my family, very close friends and roller skating stuff.

    …of course I have the luxury of having my children with me… So, with that being said, I am even crazier. My 17 (almost 18) year old daughter still doesn’t have a smart phone; my 20 year old just got one (because she can pay for it). They both have had a laptop that they needed to have for school… Both of them have Facebook accounts, but they only use it to keep up with family and close friends, same as you and me (they don’t like it mostly because of the drama and BS)… I think it’s extremely important to teach children there is more in this work than technology and the internet (even though those things are really cool)! And we live in Colorado, for goodness sakes!!! What a total waste to spend all that time inside not appreciating the gorgeousness!

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