A few weeks ago I realized I didn't like my Facebook feed. In fact, I was seeing things to the extent that I was ready to flip the middle finger at the website, say some things that would make the love child of a sailor and a truck driver blush. And then I had this idea.
Limit what Facebook 'technically' knows.
You see, Facebook insists upon you liking things. For the social aspect of the feed, liking posts and pictures are clues to what Facebook should be showing you. However, the power in the algorithms and business model is in liking other things. Like, for example, your favorite music, artists, movies, TV shows, actors, and anything else you can think of.
Liking pages (business and fan and personal) is also an indicator to Facebook of what you'd like to be seeing and the kinds of content that would be most appealing to you.
Which leads to Facebook's preferred method of interaction with you, the Newsfeed. Or, more accurately, the algorithm driven news feed.
Facebook wants to take impossibly huge bits and pieces of information about you, your tastes, likes, interests, and relationships, the paces you've been and how frequently you go, and so much more and then project for you what it think you'd be most interested in.
In a perfect, non-monetary world where the website was absolutely dedicated to your personal interests, this would be awesome. Eliminate what you don't care about, see what you do. Don't worry about the middle stuff.
Except, Facebook is neither altruistic or interested in what you WANT and instead is interested in what it things you want and how it can sell that information to, say, the business down the street or the company based out of Hong Kong on an old junk that may or may not remain afloat during your business transaction(s).
Facebook is interested in information for monetary purposes and in order to be the most effective, it needs as much info as it can get.
In attempting to control the information I receive, my first step (for quite a while now) has been to always open Facebook to the Most Recent Activity. However, with the number of ancillary elements added to my feed, that activity was increasingly difficult to quantify in terms of what I was seeing and what I missed, entirely.
For me, the idea of Facebook is about connecting with people. In fact, the idea of Facebook is riffed straight out of Harvard and the individual campus houses various online profiles with faces or facebooks. The outcome is an interconnection of personal relationships, likes, wants, shared experiences, and so on that is so far removed from the original purpose and intent (of use) that the news feed becomes a trap instead of an object of actually desired information.
Which is how we get back to getting angry at an "It" and making an @$$ out of myself as I deleted my profile, removed all of the work I'd put in for a variety of projects, and proceeded to remove social media from my life.
In attempting to gain more control, I'd decided Facebook could be a news outlet and had 'Liked' all of the major newspapers in the United States, in each state, and that offered English language translations. I went through and found magazines that offered articles and information I thought was interesting or relevant and I attempted to ensure my feed was what I wanted to see.
Only, it wasn't.
There is too much noise online, in news feeds, simply by being awake and alive such that I want to get all weird and go a bit stupid and quote Joss Whedon's Serenity about the signal, but I won't because I'm not that kind of person. While also realizing that the signal and the noise of the interwebs is exactly what is described and the noise can often become too much.
For example, I have no desire, nor do I possess a future desire, to know that in Chicago the time between gun shootings and homicides is often counted in hours and on some weekends, watching maps that track death, you can see a somewhat predictable movement through the city.
Nor do I need to hear about children left in cars.
The latest teacher scandal where a teacher has had sex with a student.
Or anything about Utah or Idaho or parts of Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.
While I do enjoy a good news story and am rather invested in knowing what's going on, I don't need a feed to keep me updated 24/7 on what's happening in Des Moines or Detroit or Delaware.
When I got on Facebook it was to allow Erin to be married (Facebook official). And then it was to connect with people I knew, know, or wanted to remain in contact with.
Then it started being an outlet for my various projects.
But over time I've fallen into the trap of liking things and in doing that I've also fallen into the trap of having Facebook dictate for me the things I should be seeing and hearing and knowing.
I don't like that and, in terms of my experience, it wasn't working for me. Facebook had become that relationship that was one-sided and demanding and out of control. My desire was for symbiosis and what I got was demanding and incorrect predictions, suggestions, and demands. Those demands still happen, I'm activily ignoring them.
Sadly, Facebook isn't going to change in my favor.
The world of online is indicating social media isn't the market force it is supposed to be and that we should be focusing attention in more traditional ways.
And I decided to unlike everything Facebook knew about me outside of friends and family.
So I did. I went through and unliked everything. Movies, TV shows, pages (there are a few exceptions for friends, family, and my own projects), artists and actors, basically everything.
This has led to seeing a feed of people and their shares, likes, and interests. I get to see people again and not a long list of links and suggestions in heavy rotation.
I'm also much happier.
It's nice to open Facebook after a few hours and see that nothing has been updated or changed. At the same time, I'm happy to see people's updates in life and frustrated over the oft-repeated memes and things I couldn't care less about. The difference, though, is that I'm finally seeing people.
Some things haven't changed. Facebook still wants to default me to its feed and I want to see the most recent stuff, so I make that change. However, when I like something it's a friend or family member or acquaintance and it's about their life. Which isn't a fix. Facebook will always be the demanding and, at times, abusive partner, but so long as this is the medium through which I can connect with the people I want to then I will carry the bear spray and continue fighting for control of my feed.
That is, until the Alliance sends an Operative to torture me for information and then kill me.
Seems like I should sign off with a catchy slogan.