Social Media

I’m going to talk a little bit about social media because of an article that I read earlier today that has left me feeling so completely disgusted with facebook that I’m loathe to get on there at all.

You can read that article here, on WIRED, and if you use facebook, or any social media, I sincerely hope that you will read this article and carefully consider it.

The first time that I was ever on facebook would have been sometime in 2007, I think, and there was no one on facebook. Two of my acquaintances were checking it out and I checked it out for about two weeks and then deleted my original account. Everyone was on Myspace then.

Social media was, to begin with, a great relatively safe escape. Social media was fun, it was entertaining. At the end of a long day of dealing with the world, the “reality” of the world, you could log onto social media and connect with your friends or family and socialize for a while, usually laughing at some funny thing or another, puppies, kittens, gifs, funny videos from youtube. It was a great way to discover new music or hear about new movies and books, and while, sure, there was the occasional interpersonal drama, for the most part there wasn’t a lot of bull. It was just fun.

Remember when everyone first migrated to facebook? You’d hit your book likes, your movies and music, your tv shows, and it would spark conversations, “Oh yeah, I remember that episode of that one show where that one guy…” Your likes would show up on your facebook as those little icon boxes, and it was cool. It felt creative and alive and, again, it was fun to get on there and connect with people about cool things.

If you read that article, it states not only how facebook itself manipulated content in a biased way, but how it was used by other parties to manipulate content in a biased way. If you understand that, at this point, then you’re probably smart enough to comprehend that if one side of whatever argument or platform was able to use facebook to manipulate, then the other side was too, and due to the lack of transparency about all that, we’re probably never going to know the whole story about any of that. What can be said, for certain at this point, is that the content on facebook was, and is, manipulated, and not necessarily with the best interests of the facebook user in mind.

Ever like or follow a page and then wonder why you never see any of their posts? What happened to all of our books and movies and music “likes”? I can’t “unlike” any of that content or unlock it, or add to it, if I wanted to. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t join facebook for NEWS. I can get that anywhere. Social media was like a party you could go to without leaving the house. It was a great way to connect with family, friends, loved ones, sometimes at great distance. I didn’t join facebook to be fed a steady stream of reminders of all of the things that I was getting on facebook to escape for a little while.

In the article it states that in a sham of a peacemaking effort, facebook execs invited members of different conservative groups to something of a sit down knowing, hoping, even counting on, that they would argue with one another. And they did. Is there ever any arguing on facebook? I mean, just in general? My opinion is that if they were low enough to set up a meeting that they hoped would descend into arguing and discord among ANY groups of peoples, and then I see how the environment on facebook has deteriorated with people arguing and name calling and mudslinging and the constant discord and people divided at every turn, and there are articles and rumors about the manipulations of algorithms and trying to make people angry, and then where did the fun, happy, content, disappear to…. my opinion is that it was all done on purpose. With what purpose? Well, I would guess in its inception the goal was to make money, but then to keep making money. Facebook bought Instagram and allowed links to its competitors, anything to keep you where? Connected to facebook, so it could keep making money, or keep manipulating. Ever take one of those fun quizzes on facebook using an outside app that asks you for permission to access your facebook data? If you have, look in your setting under apps and you will find it there, plugged into all your info. Facebook gave everyone a happy escape, and then took it away and replaced it with a steady stream of angry politics and propaganda of one kind or another. And every facebook user, a guinea pig. That, to me, is disgusting. I don’t know about you, but I don’t much care for being duped, or used.

I can watch the news anytime I care to. That isn’t what I joined social media for. On twitter earlier this evening, someone posted something kind of gross and I didn’t care for it so I did something I don’t usually do, I hit that little arrow button and it gave me the option to choose “I don’t like this post”, so I did. Twitter then told me that it would use that information to improve my twitter experience. Oh, no. I noticed something else, twitter is nowย telling me what other people are doing. “So and so liked this post. So and so retweeted this post.” Really? If I’m already following a person’s posts, I don’t need, or necessarily want, this added information of what every one of them is doing constantly, because I can already see it. You know what that does? It creates a traffic jam, for one thing. And that’s the road that facebook started down when it first started to “improve” people’s facebook experience. I went to twitter because on facebook, I was never seeing the content that I wanted to see, I’d have to hunt it down. Facebook, it seems, believes in stagnation, in keeping its users going around in a circle of manipulated content, and if it can piss everyone off and get everyone fighting in the process while making millions off of it, all the better.

This brings me now to Google Plus. I’ve always liked the G+ platform better, it just didn’t catch on the way facebook did. If you’re a writer, G+ has better editing and sharing options. It’s cleaner. You can organize your content into circles, for example I created a circle that I dubbed “Arts and Leisure” and in that circle I’ve categorized things like home decorating pages or fashion, Buzzfeed and Mental Floss. If I want to see those posts, I click on that circle and it’s all right there. You know what else? In the profile setting on Google Plus, there is no box to check with regard to politics or religion, so you can be a person and not a preconceived notion. And what are people on facebook fighting about the most? Is it Gummy Bears? G+ also has this great option where you can set your feed so that you don’t see ANY suggested or recommended posts. They’re still collecting data, but at least you can opt out of being bothered with suggestions as to what they think you might like based on what you’ve already liked. See, that suggesting doesn’t work for me because I’m not a stagnant person. On G+ you can set your feed thusly… I don’t really care much about what’s “trending” most of the time. And that’s not because I’m out of touch, though sometimes perhaps I am, but it is because, metaphorically speaking, I’m doing my own thing.Bottom line is, I’m so disgusted by this latest revelation regarding the manipulative practices at facebook that I’m struggling to keep myself from deleting my facebook pages. People have been saying for a couple of years now that facebook was controlling content in these ways, I’ve seen evidence of it myself in my own experience using facebook. I’d be just as disgusted if they’d tried to feed us all a steady stream of puppies and kittens and soothing sounds and aromas, because either way what you’re talking about is kind of a mass hypnosis, a mass addiction. Facebook has become the bad Kool Aid, and the turducken. ( Supernatural reference). I’m actively encouraging people with in my friends and family to join Google Plus, or, at least to rethink how they use facebook. (I could be wrong about G+, I mean, who would have thought that facebook would be so completely underhanded? People have to make up their own minds. And I don’t work for any of these media outlets, I’m just me, a writer.) There are, actually, a lot of people on G+. There are cultural interest groups, writing, photography, books, music, travel, with a huge numbers of members. I’m still on twitter, and, I like tumblr, for just the simplicity of it. Don’t get me wrong, there is some not great stuff on tumblr if you’re not careful where you look, but there’s also a poetry to tumblr, it’s quieter. For the time being, I’ll be maintaining my facebook page, but, I’d rather not, and that bothers me too, that facebook has its hooks that deep into any of us. But I’ll be spending more of my social media time on G+ and building that up. I’ve been heartbroken a time or two by the fighting on social media. That isn’t what I’m on there for, I don’t know about you, but I think there’s enough of that everywhere else. Social media is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be, I thought, about helping people connect in a good way where they can share cool stuff.

I wanted to share that article. Here it is again. WIRED.