June 11, 2013

"I’ll still keep up an online presence, particularly on Twitter.... I find it calmer than Facebook."

Writes Kenneth Burns, the erstwhile Isthmus writer (who's moved to Tennessee). He's deactivating Facebook at least for the summer.
Mainly, I’m weary of the politics. Understand, I’m fascinated by electoral politics, like any journalist. I have my views, and I express them in the polling booth and not many other places. Not on Facebook. I’m not interested in politics as an all-consuming leisure activity.

In my experience, though, Facebook is one rabidly political social network, and it’s not political in inspiring ways. It’s political in reductive, repetitive ways.
But why has his Facebook experience been so rabid and uncalm compared to Twitter? He's got himself to blame:

[M]ost of the political memes on my feed happen to be posted by people I don’t know. As a public figure, I regularly get friend requests from strangers, and I accept them.
Why did you accept them? I don't do that. Facebook is a way to see stuff from your family and friends and to find old friends from high school and college. But it won't work like that if you accept 1,000 requests from strangers! In Twitter, you have your followers, but you don't have to follow them. That's the difference. Even when you are following people in Twitter, their posts just flow by unread unless you look. I drop by Twitter now and then and read a few posts from random tweeters among the 121 that I follow. And as for the 4,765 who are following me, I haven't given them anything in over a month.

40 comments:

Kenneth Burns said...

Only connect.

Kenneth Burns said...

Until it's time not to connect anymore.

Scott M said...

You need to have a personal page, in which you control your friends/acquaintances toward what AA mentioned, and then a writer's page for a more public persona. While I primarily deal with authors instead of journalists, this is the way they do it and I don't see why it would be a problem in this case.

TosaGuy said...

My political friends and I have a private group on FB for us to solve the world's problems. No need for us to blast that stuff to random high school friends who plaster pictures of their kids all over the place.

Also, I am not nearly as political as I used to be. Too many other good things in life to take up one's time. Perhaps that is why the screechiest political types are often very sad people.

Renee said...

I try to keep my online presence 'private' on Facebook.

I post pictures of the kids or if my phone number changed. I figure a person can be a friend if I don't mind that person having access to my cell number.

I do have political friends, but it's local politics. People I would see viewing a city council meeting and talk about where to put the methadone clinic. We try to limit the politics on FB, some don't. As in over sharing internet memes, I have to hide a few people's feeds.

Online (off Facebook) I'm open about politics, in so much family members were appalled when they Google'd my name. Long conversations.... not sure long term what they think. I'm a social conservative that's.... that's.... so normal and have conversations about things other then being a social conservative.

Ann Althouse said...

I have my blog as my interface with the general public, so I had little reason to use Facebook that way.

Ann Althouse said...

I love the way Burns, for all his protestations of weariness, knows within a couple minutes that his article got a link.

Mitchell the Bat said...

If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.

That's two characters shy of 42.

Pogo said...

I stopped using FB once I learned the gubmint used its data.

Kenneth Burns said...

Meade commented on my Daily Page Forum post. Sometimes when he does that, a post follows on the Althouse blog. So I checked.

jacksonjay said...


Never needed Facebook.

betamax3000 said...

Seventies Van Robot says:

Don't Need Facebook when you've Got the Van.

And a Word of Van Wisdom:

Never tell Secrets to Someone You Wouldn't Let Borrow Your Van.

Mitchell the Bat said...

"If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha."

Ah.

TerriW said...

I don't "friend" any strangers on FB, but it turns out many of the people I've known in real life just want to post political mood affiliation pictures/memes all day.

I think a filter that removed photos with text overlaid upon it would solve about 75% of my problem, but still let me check in with how their kids are growing.

jacksonjay said...

@Iowahawkblog and @FloridaMan are the only reasons for Twitter!

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

I see the same thing that Burns did. Most of my Facebook contacts are musical 'friends' - actual acquaintances, or once removed - but in the last year many have chosen to express their creativity in the form of political remarks.

Not insightful ones. They're more in the form of a contest to see who's the sharpest in derogating critics of the Obama admin. Not by facts or logical arguments, but more like the comments of a lynch mob.

Many of these folks are fine sympathetic people when off of their slagging contest. But when on it, their savage blanket condemnations are an exact parallel with the condemnations of an entire race 'on account of' the alleged behavior of allegedly bad members of it.

Yet these same folks fully believe they're the staunchest opponents of racisim and the strongest supporters of inclusion and diversity.

betamax3000 said...

Seventies Van Robot says:

Van Wisdom: What is Said in the Van Stays in the Van.

Ann Althouse said...

"Meade commented on my Daily Page Forum post. Sometimes when he does that, a post follows on the Althouse blog. So I checked."

Burns must be relaxing into summertime mode, because it took him 5 whole minutes to respond to my comment commenting on his comment, not that his comment in any way responds to my tweaking of him.

Or did he actually think "I love the way" he "knows"? Like, completely unsarcastically, I was saying I was impressed at his uncanny ability to perceive that he'd been linked.

betamax3000 said...

Seventies Van Robot says:

No Need for People All getting Political. The Man will Always be the Man, but the Van: the Van can be On the Move.

betamax3000 said...

Seventies Van Robot says:

Everyone Wants to Ride in the Althouse Van.

Good Times.


Larry J said...

I never have been interested in Facebook. I'm not that interesting. For that matter, neither is almost anyone else.

The Onion had a pretty funny video skit a couple years ago about the CIA giving a big award to the FB guy, citing him as their biggest source of intelligence data. Only, as we've come to learn, it's all too true. It amazes me to hear about the things people reveal about themselves online. Too much OPSEC in my background to be comfortable with that.

Kelly said...

There are only random political posts on my Facebook, and that's only by me. My liberal friends unfriended me before the election. I guess they didn't like me commenting on their constant political posts. It must have been embarrassing having one conservative voice amongst dozens of liberal comments.

SteveR said...

I have a few FB "friends" who were very political in the run up to the 2012 election and for a time thereafter. They have been very nonpolitical as of late.

Kenneth Burns said...

I'm glad you linked to my column. Thank you.

Joe said...

Not only can you make your facebook profile private to anyone but friends, you can divide your "friends" up into groups; I have "close family & friends", "extended friends" and "acquaintances". If someone becomes noxious, I move them to another group or defriend them. Haven't done that in a rather long time.

In the end, I now have a nice way to share photos and important information with a small circle of people I know and they do the same with me.

Incidentally, one odd thing I've noticed is how many people my own age--in their fifties--don't seem to use anything online. This has a big impact on dating sites as well.

prairie wind said...

Before the election, I removed my most political friends from my FB newsfeed, which is different from unfriending them. And I did that for both liberal and conservative friends. Not seeing the constant political screeching was a huge relief. I found that I could still enjoy FB that way. Now that the election is over and I can't remember how to put them back into my feed, I have to go visit their FB pages to see what's new with them.

I swore off political commenting on FB myself though I've broken my rule a few times. Never on a liberal comment by a friend but I have gone ballistic on really stupid stuff posted by a conservative friend. I take it personally when someone posts things that make 'my' side look stupid.

Rand Paul is a prolific FB poster. So much so that I worry that he will get careless and post thoughtless crap or something purely self-promoting. He still has a few years to make huge mistakes...or small ones that can be sold as huge.

Rose said...

You should have Two Facebook accts. One for political stuff if you want it, but the main one should be just for friends and family and as politic free as you can make it.

Anyway, it's funny if he says he's dropping Facebook to get out of politics - but keeping Twitter. Facebook, even if political, is for more happy, positive posts, memes, etc. whereas Twitter is no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall hardcore politics, and little else.

But of course, both are what you make of it.

Rose said...

And, btw, reading his article - he'd NEVER make it as a blogger, if he's upset with eruptions in the comments threads. Pretty funny really.

He's right about the LIV nature of the memes. And, I suspect we'll be seeing a disillusioned Obama supporters, curling up in the fetal position this summer. Because those memes aren't going their way.

Simon Kenton said...

From facebook I learned my "friends" had moods and bowel movements. I quit.

betamax3000 said...

Seventies Van Robot says:

Rule Number Three: Shoes Off on the Waterbed.

Paddy O said...

I'm pretty active on Facebook, use Twitter every couple of days, or more if I'm needing to share with a lot of people something that happened, have a presence on LinkedIn, and one on academia.edu (the LinkedIn for academics). Honestly, the only reason I stay connected to most of it is for the professional networking. Facebook and Twitter both allow for a wider range of expression and more holistic display.

The only place I'm political anymore is here. Althouse commenting serves as my political release.

I'm trying in a lot of ways to back off most of my online presence, mostly because being online takes away from my other productivity. But, being online does keep me exposed to a wider perspective and occasionally sketch out thoughts, so it's worthwhile to a point. The tendency to indulge the frenzy is ever present, however.

Scott M said...

He's right about the LIV nature of the memes.

True, but that doesn't make some of them less funny.

viator said...

Twitter has the added virtue in that it is the only major tech company to decline to cooperate with panopticon.

"Twitter declined to make it easier for the government."

NY Times

Chip Ahoy said...

How is Tennessee? I drove through there a couple of times and liked it a lot each time. From the highway I recall rolling green hills and I kept that in mind for hanggliding purposes. It'd be a great place to learn, I expect. Whereas Colorado here is a very rough place to learn that, if learning is a series of low altitude crashes as it was with me. You see, even the most innocent looking hills here are all hurty with cactus and yucca plants that stick into you like spears and sharp unweathered rocks all over the place, it is the Rocky Mountains, after all. Just saying, if you learn things by making every mistake possible as I do then Tennessee is probably a much better place than Colorado to learn such things as hanggliding.

Kenneth Burns said...

I love Tennessee, thanks. I grew up in Nashville, and my family roots in East Tennessee, where I live now, go back to 1810 or so. The mountains are beautiful, the people friendly.

Rose said...

You might like this: Facebook King Warning: Explicit Lyrics

Revenant said...

That is an accurate description of Facebook, but you can simply turn off wall updates from friends who refuse to shut up about politics.

I had to do that to a few people. Honestly I'm just there to connect with friends and family and see some cute pictures of cats.

SOJO said...

It's very hard for a posting or news addict to find a seriously active forum that satisfies, but doesn't involve a lot of politics. Even active, off-topic subjects go political in the comments.

I sympathize with this guy.

Archie Waugh said...

I love Facebook and have my page open all day long. I have met dozens and dozens of fascinating people there. That said, I keep my page completely public ("Never post anything you wouldn't want to see on tomorrow's evening news" is my motto) and strictly non-political. Violators are given one firm warning, and repeat violators are banned immediately. I always describe my page as "a polite dinner party" to new friends, and they are expected to abide by the rules of common civility.
Of course have had to remove dozens of shrill political posters from my newsfeed, just to keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level.

Jullie Smith said...

I can't. :(

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