Curing Mental Diarrhea On My FB Newsfeed
Posted by Gigi
Way back yonder, when I first joined Facebook, it was after having already experienced the anonymous stupidity of MySpace, the ridiculous adult fantasy world of AoL, and the limitations of CompuServe and Prodigy. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself here, but I did warn you I was no spring chicken LOL.)
Anyway, I joined FB with the specific intent of escaping those environments for one designed specifically for connecting with people who I’d lost track of, and for staying connected to friends and family who were no longer within hugging distance. Over time, however, it became the place I played all sorts of highly additive games, marketed various creations and projects, and wasted countless hours posting/sharing nonsense. It became my default place to find/do/engage with anyone and anything.
Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed it then, still do, and don’t plan on abandoning its blue and white halls any time soon. But, it is indeed one of the issues that lead up to my most recent social media dilemma – my now completely useless Newsfeed.
The Newsfeed is supposed to be the landing page of Facebook. The one-stop-shop of social connectivity. It is supposed to be, by their own definition, a single place to see all the relevant information regarding your friends and those interests you have designated by Liking a Page or subject. Instead of having to visit everyone individually, all their news is conveniently sent directly to you. Just scroll through your personal community newsletter of sorts and be caught up on all the wonderful doings of your friends and cohorts.
What it has become, unfortunately, is the cyber toilet of social media. The place where everyone participates in mental diarrhea. What it has become is a miasma of political and religious ranting, entitled whining and venting, and narcissistic exercises in self absorption. It’s become the place everyone mentally craps in public. Sprinkled amid this mental diarrhea, are a million and one game notifications, horrible news stories or disturbing photos, and people’s passive aggressive airing of their dirty laundry (because it is safer than actually addressing an issue with the parties directly and discreetly, like adults).
My once peaceful Newsfeed is no more. My morning companion, who faithfully joined me for coffee as I began my day, has been infested with extremists, cry babies, and narcissists. I’m not sure when she fell victim to these social media plagues, and, I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t notice her sickness for quite some time, but I miss her happy face, and, by golly, I intend to cure her.
Especially considering it’s my own damn fault she got sick in the first place.
Yes, it was me that gave her the plague. It was me who accepted every friend request sent my way, eager to make new friends. It was me who solicited new friends for the sole purpose of padding my game community, to increase my in-game bounty. It was even me who allowed the sickness to grow by not taking the time to update my settings, thereby controlling some of the content. Oh, sure, I occasionally would block a game or dislike a piece of content, but I didn’t take the time to really tweak them as I should have. Had I done so, my poor companion would never have gotten so sick.
And the saddest part of all is I didn’t become fully aware of it until I realized I had come to dread using my FB for anything. I no longer looked forward to logging in because it was like swimming through molasses to get to anything I gave a crap about. I missed checking up on the groups I ran, the projects I loved fostering, and the interests I loved pursuing, but the work it took to get to any of it had become such a deterrent that I had simply begun avoiding it altogether. Well, in light of my recent vow to take back my life and make it a saner place to live in, this could not be allowed to continue.
So the FB cleanup project began. And lemme tell ya, it was no small feat to undo the infestation. It’s taken me days to find the right settings, delete and block apps, and unfollow/unlike what felt like a million things. The last dose of this cure was the one I dreaded the most – cleaning up the friends list.
I hadn’t realized just how many people I had on my friends list that I really have virtually no contact with. I had literally hundreds of them. It made my eyes goggle, lemme tell you. Many of these were people that were added a long time ago for games I used to play or some other thing. I realized that a great deal of the insane flood of stuff on my Newsfeed was being generated by this unnecessarily large list, and that, in turn, was why I was never able to see the pertinent posts that I wanted to see, from friends, family, colleagues, etc. I want my Newsfeed filled with things relevant to my life and interests, so if I wanted the flood of irrelevance to end, I would have to remove some people.
This posed a small quandary. I could go individually to each person’s page and turn off subscriptions or following, but that could take days, literally. Or I could take an hour and go through the list and simply unfriend those people that are no longer relevant to my current life. I was reluctant to unfriend, not wanting to insult or offend, or hurt any feelings, but when I really thought about it, if I was going to unsubscribe or unfollow, leaving me with zero future contact, then what’s the diff?
So, I went through the list, name by name, clicking the unfriend button after asking the simple question for each name – if not for that game/app/etc, would you or do you have any other contact with them really? If the answer was no, I unfriended. What surprised me was how guilty I felt doing this. As if I were doing something socially unacceptable or hurtful by cleaning up my very over stuffed list. I didn’t expect to feel bad, but I did, and still do. Mind you, it didn’t stop me from doing it, because it needed to be done, but it still felt bad.
Now I’m sitting here enjoying my Facebook again for the first time in a very long time, perusing posts from my author friends that I had not been able to enjoy in a long time, posts from distant family and friends that I thought had stopped posting, and customers old and new who I thought had moved to mars. I have to say, the more I enjoy this cleaner, less cluttered Newsfeed, the less bad I’m feeling. LOL. I have a much less cluttered Timeline as well, which is actually very nice, and I’m finally seeing posts by friends that normally were so buried under the dross that I would never see them without intentionally going to their page to visit.
I hope those who were unfriended won’t be offended by the action. It was not personal, it was a necessary act of sanity. If people send me friends requests in future, I won’t be blanket accepting them. If the person is a mutual friend, a follower of one of my pages, etc etc, I’ll consider it. Otherwise, I’m sorry, choose the Follow or Subscribe option to see my posts rather than adding me as a friend, because I will not be letting my enjoyment of my Newsfeed be interfered with again. From now on my friends list is reserved for people I actually interact with on some level or another, even if that interaction is just to swap recipes, share book links, or keep updated on work/page/blog/craftbiz stuff.
P.S. Apparently I’m not the only one suffering from FB woes, because these people posted about their issues too.