A month and a half ago I decided to logout of Facebook. You can read more about my original reasons here. Now that it has been over 45 days since I have scrolled Facebook looking for interesting posts from my friends and acquaintances I realized how little our Facebook posts really matter.
When we post something on Facebook it is usually to either update our friends on something or to seek sympathy. That seems to be about 95% of what I see posted on Facebook. I would say that the majority of the posting to Facebook is done because people want comments on their posts. People desire that affirmation that they don’t get from people these days due to the fact that we have fewer face to face conversations than we used to. Being that we can share something out to our average of 450 online contacts makes it even more desirable. However, I feel that we have actually created apathy in our abilities to hold conversations with people.
When I would scroll Facebook, and I know others are just like me because I watch them while in public. We scroll down the Facebook newsfeed looking for something that sticks out the same way we rapidly turn pages in a magazine looking for something interesting. Whatever gets us to stop scrolling has to be interesting or at least intriguing. Most of the time these days it is some sort of drama or meme photo. The only people we stop to see on purpose are those who we are truly interested in.
The people who we are truly interested in is what I wanted to focus on. I noticed that I would look at the updates of the people whom I care about most and then take no action. Occasionally I would comment or like the post but most of the time I would just read the post or view the image posted. That is not the way I should be communicating with the people that matter the most to me. Those people deserve face to face communication or at the very least, phone calls.
So what about voyeurism? I think that Facebook has turned us all into voyeurists. You could also call it, “keeping up with the Jones on steroids.” We find enjoyment out of watching the lives of others with out them knowing it. We occasionally interject with our own comment or let them know we saw their post by liking it but for the most part, we just watch or maybe even stalk. It’s not really healthy at all. I am friends with other photographers, business people and a few people who just seem to have very appealing lives to me and I realized that all I did was watch their lives or their work. The problem with voyeurism is that your own mind is what puts context to every post you see and all most people post to Facebook is their highlight reels of life. Not many people are real and post the ups and downs of life.
I have had a few people ask me if staying away from Facebook has caused me to have closer relationships. The answer is yes and no. As I mentioned in my last post about being logged out of Facebook, I converse with my wife much more than before because I don’t see her Facebook updates. I prefer to listen to her recap her day. She posts a lot of photos of our kids to Facebook throughout the week and I prefer to have her show me them when I get home so she can explain them. You know what you don’t see when you read posts on Facebook? The expression of joy, excitement, sadness or any other facial expressions at all. You lose so much by communicating through Facebook, or other forms of nonlinear communications.
I haven’t stopped text messaging, posting tweets to Twitter or uploading photos to Instagram, but part of me wants to. I first got hooked on communicating with people through text when I dialed into a BBS through a dialup modem and was able to make posts and read posts from other people. Since then, I have loved being able to communicate through text. I love sending emails and sometimes I prefer emailing someone over a phone call.
The death of the personal relationship
All of my life I have only had a few close friends. I was never that guy who had a ton of friends and always jumped around between different groups of people. I am a social person but I am also very introverted when it comes with others. I am better in one on one situations than I am in group settings unless I know everybody in the group. What Facebook has done is allowed me to keep tabs on the close friends I have without actually spending any real time with them. I think many of us can relate that we often spend less time with some people because of social media. This has to change for me because I could probably be a person who lived on his own island by himself so long as I had an internet connection.
It’s not Facebook’s fault
I did not logout because I can’t stand Facebook as a platform. I still manage my business pages on Facebook because they are tools I like to use to market and keep those who care to follow my ventures up to date. I actually just revised all of the content for my Facebook Pages Course for Businesses that is on Udemy. The course has over 18,000 students so you would think that I am a pretty big fan of social media and have definitely taught some people how to use the platform.
The truth is, I received a lot of confused emails and comments from people when I said I was going to logout of Facebook. At the time of logging out I had over 4500 friends on Facebook. Many people only know me through Facebook. For many, I was the social media poster child. Once I explained to these people my reasons for leaving, they understood. I think all of us know deep down that we would be better off without personal Facebook accounts, but most could never let it go.
Facebook is like the news
I used to listen to the news when I was driving. That would give me about 15 minutes of news each direction to and from work and some midday news whenever I was out and about. The problem with the news is that it’s horrible. News is bad. Nothing good ever gets talked about on the news. Our world is a horrible place and the news just rubs it into your face and it’s hard to do anything but think about the negative. This is what Facebook was doing to me. I would read some of the stuff that people were going through and it would make me feel bad. Most of this was coming from people who I don’t even know in real life and don’t really communicate with at all anyway. Yes there have been times I have felt prompted to pray for people who post something tough they are going through and for this I am thankful. I have even helped fund some situations that people posted to GoFundMe that I would not have seen had I not scrolled past it on Facebook. The problem is that the bad outweighs the good and you have to cut the fat sometimes in order to be more focused and positive.
There is nothing wrong with posting about life to Facebook. As I mentioned before, since joining Facebook I got married and had three kids. There are countless aspects about my life that have been shared through Facebook. I don’t want to lose that of leave that behind.
Will I ever come back to Facebook?
I have been considering what to do. I have not posted anything other than links to these recap posts since logging out (my website automatically posts them to Facebook). I have considered turning my Facebook profile into a page but then I would not get to view the newsfeed. I also also realize that most people are probably ok with being my friend on Facebook but may not want to “like” my page. That used to be called being a “fan,” which made it sound even more weird. I have also considered converting my current profile to a page and then creating a new personal profile that will only be accessible to close friends and family.
It’s hard to figure out what to do. I think I will continue to wait until the 60 day mark. I do not feel that I have missed much by being logged out of Facebook. Most of the content I consumed through Facebook does not really matter at the end of the day. Most likely, I will spend the time on my personal Facebook profile to create a newsfeed list of just those who’s updates I want to see so I will see more of their updates and less of the stuff I don’t care about. In the meanwhile, I will continue to post to my blog and to Twitter as I have been doing. I am glad that I am posting more to my blog, especially in the photos section, because my blog can go with me even after Facebook is long gone. It saddens me to know that everything I have posted to Facebook will one day be gone. There was a lot of time invested in all of that posting. If I had just posted to my blog instead, all of that content would be somewhere I had total control. Even thinking back to the days of Myspace, my blog could have been a fantastic timeline in and of itself.
I realize that this post could make it sound like I don’t care about people. That is furthest from the truth. I do care and anybody who has taken even a moment to see what I am about knows this. The problem with social media is the lack of context and personal connection. I miss the personal connection that should be a part of every story. Maybe the answer is that all of our posts should be video instead of text. I think that is where it is going as video blogs on platforms such as Youtube continue to permeate our culture. I have tried video blogging or Vlogging a couple of times and have a hard time getting into it. I already know that it is the video content I have created that has done the most good for me and for others. My online courses on Udemy have over 70,000 students taking them. People have said that they enjoy the video format instead of reading books or tutorial papers.
As I write this I am on a Virgin America flight to Boston for a couple of days to photograph and film for a company I often work with that organizes conferences for online marketers. It’s interesting stuff to me and the people who attend are definitely social media people. I also realize that maybe updates like this should be done in video. Maybe my next challenge should be to do all of my updates in video rather than text. That would definitely make my dumb jokes and comments I post to Twitter more interesting, or maybe more annoying…
What do you think about what I have had to say. Is there anything you agree or disagree with? I would love to hear your thoughts.