Untangling from Facebook, the continuing saga

FU facebook

FU facebook

I have had problems with Facebook for years. I was irritated when they removed the reverse chronological timeline, when they started using an algorithm to show posts they thought I’d rather see, when they began posting “friend of a friend” posts on my timeline, when they stopped embedding links from YouTube and Twitter, etc., etc. The addition of autoplay video and audio was a particular sore spot for me.

And I was outraged when the company admitted they’d been manipulating users’ emotions in a secret study, contravening universally recognized protocols on human experimentation. That was in 2014. It seems like a century ago. And it’s only gotten worse.

What has been particularly galling about all of this is that Facebook executives, all the way up to and including Mark Zuckerberg, have seemed genuinely mystified when people complain about all the changes. And they really didn’t understand why it might be a big deal that they were surreptitiously manipulating the things users saw to gauge whether such changes would influence the users’ emotional state.

And they have insisted, in a twisted form of Orwellian doublespeak, that every change has been made to make for a “better experience for users.”

The latest scandal, featuring odious wealthy people harvesting the personal information of 80-plus million users in an effort to sway the Brexit vote and the 2016 Presidential election, is just the latest, largest straw that landed on the camel’s back.

Last September, I “broke up” with Facebook, but continued to share from Instagram and check in and comment occasionally. I removed the app from my phone, which has made a huge difference.

But now, I’m taking this further.

I’m in the process from disentangling myself entirely from Facebook. This is much easier said than done. I have 500 “friends” on Facebook, most of whom I interact with rarely, but that is the only way that I have to contact some of them.

I have posted numerous photos, videos and links over 14 years as a user, which I’d hate to have just “vanish” into the ether.

And my job as a new media journalism professor sort of requires me to maintain at least a passing knowledge of what Facebook is doing to journalism (not anything good).

And that’s not even considering my Instagram account, which I have grown to really like.

So for now, I’m no longer posting anything to Facebook. I’ve downloaded all my data and I’m going to be “curating” a bunch of stuff to other platforms. I’m going to post anything I want to post to my own, self-hosted weblog, probably with a link on Twitter, and – until I can figure something else out – continue on Instagram.

I still use Messenger, and will use it when I have to. In case you think WhatsApp would be a good alternative, it’s owned by Facebook too.

I’m sharing this post from my weblog onto Facebook so people will know where I went. I’m still around, and I invite you to stop by sometime.

So long and thanks for all the fishes, Facebook.

Allan Watts: Life in Not a Journey

It’s amazing how much creativity there is in the world. Check out this YouTube video which combines illustration and the zen of Alan Watts. Obviously, Watts’ thinking is more nuanced than this, but the general point of being playful with life is one I forget too often.

Here’s the transcript:

The existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. That is to say, it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at.

But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano.

Why? Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!

Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.

Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for.

Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line.

If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

Dear Facebook, Yes, it’s you: Breaking up with the Borg

After several years of posting my thoughts and life events to Facebook, I’m making a conscious effort to withdraw from the platform as much as possible. This post is part explanation and part welcome. If you’re not interested in rambling, disjointed thoughts on social media, life in general and content creation, just skip this and go watch some cat videos. 🙂

You can click on each image to see it full size. A link to a PDF of this letter is at the bottom of this post, as are links to all the social media sites I plan on using in the future. And, the comments section is below if you want to say “hi.”

letter to facebook
Page 1
Handwritten letter to Facebook
Page 2
Handwritten letter to Facebook
Page 3
Handwritten letter to Facebook
Page 4

facebookfarewell (PDF)

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