I realized recently that it’s been 2 years since I last blogged. There is a distinct feeling of “lack” – I sorely miss the blogging atmosphere, the community and the closeness I experienced when I was active. Much of what I got out of blogging was replaced by Facebook due to how easy it was to use, along with the “quick post” option, linking to stories, and catching up with people who don’t regularly visit blog sites.
Facebook made connecting with others brain-dead easy.
But the more I use Facebook, the more I recognize some major downsides – the polarity of the “like” button, the mounting privacy concerns, the ineffectiveness of “text-only” arguments, the outright assumptions made by strangers, and more. The persona that people put forth is but a mere facsimile of the real person underneath. I believe peer pressure and the allure of attention influences way more than it should.
Facebook made being seen by others a priority over actually connecting.
I don’t think people can be “real” online and this relevation didn’t hit me very much until this last year (2014). People will spit venom online that they wouldn’t dare utter (or even think) if they were talking to you in person. There’s a false confidence and a bullying tendancy for some when they can hide behind a pseudo-rally on someone else’s post. The name calling is intense. The strawman arguments are pervasive. The cherry-picking of other’s words to formulate a battering ram of responses is amazing to watch.
Facebook made some people meaner.
In many ways, 2014 was a year of major division points in the nation. Pick a topic, and there’s a bunch of people on one side of the fence eager to burn and rip to shreds anyone who dares to be on the other side of the fence. It doesn’t really matter if there’s any fence at all, or if the fence was constructed piece by piece by conflict-peddlers who sell tickets to people to watch the fights at the fence. The polarity is staggering – the enemies that people have crafted in their mind are diabolical, and the need to fit “the other side” into that idea of an enemy is equally diabolical. Person #1 states something and unless Person #2 completely agrees, Person #1 has a handy list of boxes to put Person #2 in until they conform.
Facebook made people take sides.
As the arguments heated up, people upped their game. They had to not only cherry-pick something to fight with, but they also researched online any evidence whatsoever that supported their side. It doesn’t matter that “researching online” can be an oxymoron. Simply because they could sit and compose the perfect reply without interaction, feedback or fact-checking, they sat contentedly in their own juices, marinating in their hatred. With people’s news feeds filled with only the things that confirm their own world view, their own self-confidence grows to enormous proportions. The typical information diet is sorely lacking in some basic essentials.
Facebook made people instant experts in absolutely nothing but their own opinions.
I frequently found myself checking my phone here and there since the mobile app is so easy. Status update notification! Someone liked this post! Here’s a video you gotta see! 17 Reasons To Write A Headline That Pops and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next! Everything is vying for your attention and competing for your clicks and likes. When I wondered what my employer would think or would want to track regarding my social media use, I decided to severely limit any Facebook use during work hours. But then when I’d check in while on the road, at the airport, or at night, I’d see a lot of people posting all day long. I then wondered – do they work? Are they getting paid to Facebook all day? What if everyone’s Facebook profile showed a handy chart of “Time Spent Per Day” and their employer could see it?
Facebook made me wonder about my friends.
And that is not a good place to be. Who am I to judge or understand what someone does with their time? Maybe they’re in a waiting room at the doctors, or maybe it’s their day off. Maybe they’re more efficient than me at working and can throw in a few updates here and there. Maybe they ARE retired, unemployed, or otherwise not beholden to a supervisor to answer to. Either way, if I’m wondering at someone else’s usage of Facebook, what am I really concerned about? What should I be reviewing about myself that I’m so concerned what other people do with their time?
Speaking of judging, I frequently lament the lack of filters on Facebook. I am someone who highly prefers a lack of profanity in business, casual or public settings. Although the age limit is 13 years old, that’s still a very young age. Facebook doesn’t let me put a filter on that says “don’t show me posts with bad words”, at least not that I’ve found. Then there’s the IFL science pictures and posts that make profanity a house-hold word for everyone. It’s like over the last five years, the whole world got *real* comfortable with vulgarity. I feel like I’m the only person left of my peers that doesn’t REGULARLY cuss as part of their postings. Are they like that in person? Do they talk like that with their kids or other people’s kids around? Is this how they really are, or is this the persona they are pushing outward?
Facebook made people into potty-mouths and me into an apparent goody-two-shoes.
As these things weighed on me, I constantly was reminded of the “good old days” of blogging. Am I mis-remembering blogging somehow, and forgetting the bad things? Did I unfairly abandon blogging because it wasn’t doled out piecemeal like Facebook? With blogging, I had to actually set aside some time to compose an entry, and then some other time to read other people’s compositions. Compare that to Facebook where I can literally spend anywhere from 20 seconds with a quick check and a “Like” button to hours of scrolling, watching videos, researching and composing responses that get ignored… and it’s no wonder blogging took a back seat to the convenience that Facebook offered.
At the very least, Facebook made me write this blog entry.