I remember when the biggest problem on Facebook was an overabundance of FarmVille invites and not widespread propaganda and competing political views. Oh, I’m sure the latter was there even in the early days, but certainly not as pronounced as it is now. A scroll through my newsfeed is almost dominated by folks sharing something or other said by one group or another.
I’m of two minds of this. I do believe that, yeah, activism is important and it’s worthwhile to be aware of what’s going on. But on the other, it sometimes feels as if everything — and everyone — on Facebook has been drawn down on political lines. I understand that much of this is intentional. The website’s business strategy is reliant on people sharing and interacting with the site, and turns out pontificating is a great way to get people to do that. More clicks, more ad revenue, rinse, repeat, and so on until the famous social network becomes less about socializing and more, I dunno, not that.
Some of the politickings are opinions I agree with, some of them are ones that really piss me off. While I appreciate being privy to points of view different from my own, there’s a point where it all becomes a little much. A lot of that is probably due to just how toxic the climate has gotten; I’m acutely aware of my own position in all of this and how much of the rhetoric concerns, well, people like me. It becomes emotionally taxing to read it, and after a while the conversation just becomes tiring. There’s a point where enough is enough.
Throughout all this, there is a big part of me that just wants to delete Facebook and be done with it. Get my data off the platform (at least seemingly) and leave all of that behind. The thing is, I still like Facebook for its social aspect. There are people on there who I have no other way of getting in touch with, and even if I’m not an active part of their lives, it’s nice to know they’re still out there doing their thing. Email conversations have fallen out of fashion, and many of these people I know from before texting was as common as it was now — and before overseas messengers like WhatsApp were a thing. Severing that tie is hard, especially since Facebook’s been a thing for me for the past thirteen years. There’s a lot on there.
I’ve been quite judicious with privacy settings too, with essentially my entire presence being hidden unless I add you. That list is slowly being culled too. I’m steadily deleting people I barely know or the ones who just post endless right-wing propaganda. I know there’s value in being informed in the way people think, but if the white supremacist crap you spout outweighs our friendship, that’s it. To say nothing of the fact that there’s so much out there that’s just being generated for the ad revenue as a result of Facebook’s focus moving from connecting you with your friends to connecting ad money with their pockets.
I’m probably not gonna delete Facebook anytime soon. I still relish the connections and photos of friends that sometimes still exist. But as the pandemic lengthens and more human interaction moves online, I’m growing more aware of the forums that socialization takes place. Facebook’s a cesspool — and has been for quite some time. I’ve deliberately limited my time on it, and, as I said before, am taking steps to make my experience less terrible. But anyway. Here we are.