February 11, 2018

After 4 days of avoiding Facebook altogether — my habit had been to click many times a day — I decided to drop in and see how it felt.

1. I haven't clicked yet, so my 4-day record is still intact, and I could keep going, but the purpose of avoiding Facebook hasn't been to achieve purity, but to become conscious of what was a clicking instinct that did not correspond to genuine feeling of reward. Having broken the unconscious instinct, I want to take a look — a somewhat objective look — at what I missed. I presume I'll spend about 5 minutes scanning what would have taken up much more than 5 minutes if I'd done it in little pieces across 4 days.

2. Okay. I've been there, scrolled through all the way back to where I was reading last time. Presumably, if I'd been visiting frequently, Facebook would have served up more items, but they'd have been worse things, right?, not better. I don't really know. For who has known the mind of the Facebook? I started timing myself with my iPhone stopwatch, but the insane rushing by of hundredths of a second strangled up my mind. I'll say I spent 5 to 10 minutes catching up.

3. What have I missed: cats, goats, a sloth in pajamas, a nonthreatening medical procedure, some charming kid-talk, speculation about accidental suicide from an apparently nonsuicidal person, a link to an article about cheese and drugs and the brain (which I'd already seen pointed at by Instapundit), an analogy involving relationships, and 4 things that I was moved to open in tabs.

4. The 4 things were: 1. "Cops realize tiger is stuffed animal after 45-minute standoff," 2. "Everything you should know about happiness in one infographic," 3. Something I'd already read, pretty much knew I'd already read, that I didn't need to read even the other time, and wasted 10 seconds deciding not to read again, 4. "What Would You Look Like As The Opposite Sex?"

5. #1 didn't really need a click. What Facebook displayed — the headline and a photo — was already all that you needed. It was amusing enough, but I've seen other Facebook posts about stuffed animals mistaken for real ones. #2 was the opposite of what its headline promised. The one infographic was a simple but indecipherable mess. What's the brain supposed to represent that's different from the faceless lady with a paintbrush sticking out of her head (and is that supposed to be a pregnancy bulging out of one side of her?)? #3 I already bitched about at point 4. #4 was a thing you could do if you "Login with Facebook." I was assured "We will never post without your permission." You will never post what without my permission, and why should I believe you?, and just when I thought I was out of Facebook, they pull me back in!

6. Okay. I survived my dip back into Facebook, and I think I'm out.

ADDED: A poll:

When I'm on Facebook, I'm most like...
 
pollcode.com free polls

59 comments:

Jon Burack said...

I've never had a thing to do with Facebook. This has convinced me I made a good choice. Thanks.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

I quite like Facebook as a way to keep up with family and friends but I don't look at it everyday, much less multiple times a day, unless I am spectacularly bored.

Derek Simmons said...

In #6 you misspelled 'know for sure'

Danno said...

A sloth in pajamas? I resemble that comment!

Tank said...

Now living in NC, a few minutes on Facebook gives me some small idea of what my old friends/family are doing back in NJ and PA. In fact, I joined Facebook for this purpose six months before we moved (so about two years ago). It's also a good way to touch base with my kids because they actually read Facebook messages (and a group message gets us all on the same page). I use it for lots of jokes with friends and family. I generally ignore all of the political stuff (not always). I would not have clicked on any of the things Althouse tabbed.

People talk about not being on Facebook as if it's a great accomplishment. It's a tool. As Mr. Natural might say, "Use the right tool for the job."

SayAahh said...

I'll only take just a tiny sip...no more. Just to see how it tastes.
I'm really done with it this time!

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lexington Green said...

I quit as a New Years resolution. Glad I did. Some good things, like being in touch with certain people. But overall a serious net waste of time and distraction. And I am not giving my data to Zuckerberg anymore! So much winning.

Humperdink said...

I deactivated my FB account, first for a few weeks, now for several months. Quite liberating. Not going back.

My sister-in-law thinks I quit because she is a lefty. Nope, I quit because the few lefties in my circle of friends would parrot lefty talking points. When I rebutted, they could not support their view. They only had so many talking points and ended up shooting blanks. Why make friends (cough, gag) upset?

Tank said...

Althouse vs. Facebook.

Tank goes to Facebook first because he knows he will spend little time there, Tank goes to Althouse last because he knows he is likely to spend quite a bit of time there (depending on what Althouse has posted). All his other bookmarks fall in between.

Humperdink said...

PS: Watching that sanctimonious creep Zuckerdork preach would be reason enough to abandon FB.

Unknown said...

I'm off FB and still accumulating the days away. Thanks for the post Ann, it confirms what I had come to believe: that I'm not missing anything by being away. Likewise Twitter.

-sw

Eleanor said...

I use FB to keep in touch with family and friends. A lot of my former students keep in contact with me through FB. My grandson and I collaborate on homework assignments using FB's video chat. I don't click on anything not posted by someone I know. I don't even have the "Trending" list FB puts up on my screen. The groups I belong to are hobby related. While it's true we're not the customer for Zuckerberg, we're the product, it is possible to use FB's features the way you want without surrendering your life to it. "Giving up Facebook" has become another virtue to signal. There's no real virtue in it, though. It provides a service. How you use it is up to you. Not using it is just not using it. It's like visiting a blog. Some days I do and some days I don't.

Original Mike said...

”4. The 4 things were: 1. "Cops realize tiger is stuffed animal after 45-minute standoff," 2. "Everything you should know about happiness in one infographic," 3. Something I'd already read, pretty much knew I'd already read, that I didn't need to read even the other time, and wasted 10 seconds deciding not to read again, 4. "What Would You Look Like As The Opposite Sex?" “

I don’t understand. I thought Facebook was posts by people you know.

David Begley said...

The Wall Street consensus - based upon data from corporate America - is that ads on Facebook generate way more sales than radio, TV and Google.

Fernandistein said...

Loss of Control: Blogging and Checking more than a person wants to, for longer than they intended, or despite telling themselves that they wouldn’t do it this time.

Neglecting Other Activities: Spending less time on activities that used to be important (hanging out with family and friends, exercising, pursuing hobbies or other interests) because of the use of Blogger or Facebook.

Risk Taking: More likely to take serious risks in order to obtain one’s Blog of choice.

Relationship Issues: People struggling with addiction are known to act out against those closest to them, particularly if someone is attempting to address their Internet problems; complaints about posts from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.

Secrecy: Going out of one’s way to hide the amount of blogging or one’s activities when Blogging or Checking; unexplained injuries or accidents.

Changing Appearance: Serious changes or deterioration in hygiene or physical appearance – lack of showering, slovenly appearance, unclean clothes.

Family History: A family history of Blogging can dramatically increase one's predisposition to blog abuse.

Tolerance: Over time, a person's brain adapts to blog posts to the point that it needs more and more of them in order to have the same reaction.

Withdrawal: As the effect of the blogs or posts wear off the person may experience symptoms such as: anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences: Even though it is causing problems (on the job, in relationships, for one’s health), a person continues Blogging, Posting and Checking.

Fritz said...

I don’t understand. I thought Facebook was posts by people you know.

Clearly you don't understand the Facebook business model. Since you don't pay, you are the product being sold to advertisers. The people you know are just the bait to get you there.

Many years ago I was a member of a bulletin board devoted to fishing. It turned into a social forum, slowly, and eventually fractured along political lines. Now it is reforming on Facebook. At least we skipped Myspace.

Francisco D said...

Interesting post professor.

It sounds like you are trying to avoid (or even overcome) an addiction.

I wonder how many people are addicted to FaceBook.

I also wonder what the consequences of FaceBook addiction are.

dreams said...

If you just wait, Facebook will contact you via email and let you know what you've missed.

Rick Turley said...

I don’t participate in social media. They employ thousands of engineers and spend billions of dollars in order to manipulate you into spending just a little more time on the site. Remember. If it’s free you are the product.

Jersey Fled said...

I don't have FB and have never had it. Unfortunately some companies and groups that I deal with seem to be closing down their websites and going completely to FB. These are companies that do not do commerce online but provide useful information. So I'm pretty much locked out.

I take this as a sign that FB is the sign of the beast.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Since the beginning I've kept FB friends to people I already know and care about, maybe 70 in all. To that I've added a half-dozen people I've never met but have good and genuine connections with people already on my friends list. As a consequence the feed is easily at least 50 percent news and ideas I care about, or things which true friends find truly funny.

As a particular tool for a specific purpose FB isn't bad. You must, however, stay clear as to purpose or it'll swirl down the drain in a shocking moment of recognition.

Original Mike said...

So if Facebook is a series of posts some algorithm thinks is interesting, how is this different from Althouse? Other than the fact that on Althouse I like the “algorithm”.

Tony said...

Deactivate your account and see what Facebook does to try to keep you. It's pretty funny. The manipulation becomes transparent. You don't have to worry about losing anything. Simply log back on and your account is automatically reactivated. You actually have to delete the account to get rid of it which I did about a year ago.

tcrosse said...

It's not Facebook itself that exasperated me, but the awful people who posted there. Some of them are my nearest and dearest.

Humperdink said...

As an aside, my friend's company (an actual friend, not a FB pseudo-friend) does background checks for businesses. The first site they they check is FB.

Ann Althouse said...

I added a poll. Check it out!

Ann Althouse said...

"I don’t understand. I thought Facebook was posts by people you know."

People I know posted links.

WK said...

My wife is on Facebook but I am not. Often, she will share a post with me and ask me how I would respond. I tell her. Then she says that I am not allowed to be on Facebook.

Original Mike said...

People I know posted links.

So, it’s like us reading Althouse everyday.

Curious George said...

"baby goat tap dancing adorably on somebody's hardwood floor"

Here's a goat doing a convention speech

Mark said...

I've never gotten the appeal. I do have an account so I can access it, but only once every few months do I go look at what others are posting, but it feels like spying, not like socializing. And I never post anything personal there.

EDH said...

No, you don't have to live like a...

Refugee

Somewhere, somehow, Zuckerberg must have kicked you around some
Who knows maybe you were kidnapped tied up
Taken away and held for ransom
Honey, it don't really matter to me, baby
Everybody's had to fight to be free, you see

Don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)
No you don't have to live like a refugee

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Last night's Star Trek TOS was "The Menagerie." That's the two-parter where they took the first pilot with Cpt. Christopher Pike and mashed it together with a courtroom drama with Cpt. Kirk.

The throbbing skulls can make you believe that your imagination is your reality. So, you could be fighting for your life against some giant ogre-like creature but you're really just sitting in a cage staring blankly into space, doing nothing constructive at all.

It's pretty hard to watch something like that on TV for the umpteenth time without the irony stinging just a little bit.

Original Mike said...

Is there a way to “be on” Facebook without people knowing you’re there?

mockturtle said...

While I don't use FB, I gave up smoking about 25 years ago after many unsuccessful attempts. Just trying to cut down doesn't cut it. You are looking to justify your FB use as an occasional peek [not seeking 'purity', after all] but will soon be back to a pack a day. ;-)

mockturtle said...

Fernandistein: Love your new avatar and the story behind it. Made me think of some Leno news clips.

Ann Althouse said...

"It sounds like you are trying to avoid (or even overcome) an addiction."

I don't think the elements of addiction are there, and I wasn't really spending that much time there, but I was having some negative experiences that made me think it's not a good use of my reading and writing activity. My attitude and style works best for this blog — not for Facebook (and not for Twitter). I go to FB and Twitter when I'm looking around for things to blog about, and a problem with FB (which isn't true of Twitter) is that there are family and friends there who are reaching out and inviting conversation there. I was putting some effort into putting up a post every day or 2, something that was nice and friendly, but it actually got almost no response, and some guy from high school actually wrote "Get a life, post something that could possibly matter." But I'm not going to post about things that matter on Facebook. I'll put that here, where being nice and boosting spirits isn't part of the ethos. I think you're forced to be bland on Facebook, and so you have to channel your energy into being interesting within blandness and inoffensiveness. Meanwhile, there were lots of people who were putting up political stuff, mostly premised on what I personally find really boring: the assumption that we all hate Trump. So that's the kind of niceness that really bothers me but that I cannot do anything about over there. I belong here.

MayBee said...

Politics on Facebook is the worst. I can't think of a time someone posted something political on facebook and I thought better of them for it.

Ryan said...

Your poll needs an "I am not on Facebook and never will be" option.

Birkel said...

Facebook is a worthless time suck.
My vote.

LordSomber said...

Facebook is for girls.
I'm not being sexist -- it's for male girls and female girls just the same.

mockturtle said...

Keeping in touch with family and friends is well and good until they find out your views don't coincide with theirs. My younger daughter had been on FB until the 2016 political season. People would assume [because she is biracial, I suppose] that she hated Trump and thought him a racist and a fascist. Although she is more than capable of dishing it out as well as taking it, she got tired of the venom and the vitriol.

Francisco D said...

"I think you're forced to be bland on Facebook, and so you have to channel your energy into being interesting within blandness and inoffensiveness. "

In my very limited Facebook experience (using my finance's account), I find that to be true.

I had a sense that there is an agreement between FB users (at least those on her account) not to offend with political topics. Ironically, the one person who consistently posts ant-Trump stuff is a journalist. He gets a little bit of support and almost no counterargument. It seems that most of her connections are trying to be nice. Maybe it's because a lot of them are ELCA Lutherans from Iowa and Minnesota. (I'm an ELCA Lutheran from Chicago, living in Iowa where people work hard at being nice. It took me some time to get used to it).

Crazy Jane said...

Birkel had it right with "a worthless time suck."

The only good things are that you learn about distant relatives and are nominally in touch with old friends whom you could never find otherwise. I like some of those people.

I check in every few days, tops, and spend most of my time blocking "forever" the political stuff, the little quizzes, the recipes, the "humor", the animal stuff and friends of friends who post any of the foregoing. Wonder if FB could tell me how many thousands of sites I have blocked. THAT I'd like to know.

Working my way to once a week. Pretty sure I can do this thing.

Steve Uhr said...

I quit cause I only had 11 friends -- and half were relatives. Sort of embarrassing.

bagoh20 said...

" what would have taken up much more than 5 minutes if I'd done it in little pieces across 4 days."

That's even more true of the TV news most of the time. I have an addiction to watching the news, but it's the same couple stories repeated over and over for days on end. I really only learn something new about 5% of the time, and it will be there tomorrow and the next day again anyway, so once a week is more than adequate. It's an enormous waste of my time, I need to fashion an escape plan. Part of my problem is that I only sleep about 5 hours a night. That's really all I need, but I stay in bed with the TV on just to avoid getting up hours before anyone else. I need to get back to podcasts, reading, early morning exercise, and stalking my victims.

Johnny Sokko said...

I swear I won't buy any crack, I'm just going to drive around the crack house where I used to smoke some crack at back when I was a crackhead.

Marc said...

And we all appreciate that AA has decided that this is the place to be. Managed the other day to actually initiate the 'delete' process at Fb (having been deluded by their 'deactivate' dodge); quite why it takes fourteen days, I've no idea. Am trying out Diaspora, as someone here suggested on one of the previous Fb posts; there seem to be an awful great lot of anarchists and Catalan republicans.

mockturtle said...

I swear I won't buy any crack, I'm just going to drive around the crack house where I used to smoke some crack at back when I was a crackhead.

Well, I might buy just a little but I won't smoke it. Just to prove to myself that I'm not addicted. ;-)

Carol said...

Facebook's one redeeming feature is that it lets me in on local news without watching a lot of local TV or subscribing to the paper. And with that you get Comments! Which the paper at least doesn't allow anymore at its site.

And God, how the local powers-that-be hate commenters! Too negative - and you don't know who they are!

Ha ha.

wwww said...



a sloth in pajamas,

But if we don't click on Facebook we'll be missing stuff like this!


Yeah, I try not to post very much on Facebook. Initially I thought it would be just close friends and family. But then professional acquaintances friended, and friends from elementary school, and friends of friends and the numbers blew up to a ridiculous number. Now I'm reluctant to post because it's this crowd of random people. I don't care enough to segregate people into groups, although I may do that at some point so I feel more comfortable posting family pics.

Facebook has taken the place of Christmas cards for a lot of people. It keeps me plugged into a couple of networks. Recently joined some recipe groups on Sicilian baking to get some ideas for Easter food. I'm reluctant to exit all together, but might do so in the future.

Ann Althouse said...

"Your poll needs an "I am not on Facebook and never will be" option."

That option is called not taking the poll.

Big Mike said...

I cannot picture you, Professor, as a sloth in pajamas. To me you look like a nightgown sort of lady. No doubt someone will complain about my saying so.

Lem said...

"That option is called not taking the poll."

I guess i'm the majority then.

tcrosse said...

I'd sign up to see Lust, Pride, or Gluttony in pajamas.

mockturtle said...

I'd sign up to see Lust, Pride, or Gluttony in pajamas.

:-D

MaxedOutMama said...

I don't do Facebook and I never have. It's just not for me. I don't even like Twitter. But some love it.

Mark said...

Twitter would seem to be most useful for breaking news kind of stuff. But that is exactly where it breaks down since you end up with four or five new entries every second or two with everyone posting at once.