The Internet certainly has changed quite a lot ever since I went online in 1997. From that time forward up to now, I consider myself a pretty heavy Internet user, open to trying a lot of new things. I did the Geocities, I did the Friendster, I did the MySpace, I did YouTube and DeviantArt and Blogger and Twitter and even the now forgotten ones like Comicspace, Flixter, Buzznet, LiveVideo, PinoyTube, Vloggerheads, etc.
And then, there’s of course, FACEBOOK. I’ve been pretty active on that site for many years. But swiftly on the heels of me quitting YouTube, I’ve pretty much quit Facebook. Well, not entirely. My account is pretty much still there. But I’ve massively pulled back my activities. Once I used to post several things in a single day, now I hardly post anything in a single week. More importantly, I no longer browse the “Home” newsfeed. There was a time I thought I could not live everyday without going to Facebook, but it’s really just not true. After removing myself from it, I’ve realized I didn’t get as mad as often as I used to, and I don’t get stressed out as often as I used to.
I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and maybe I can write it all out here.
I’m thinking I’ve pretty much broken my Facebook early on, and it grew broken for years and there’s nothing more I could do about it. What do I mean by “broken”? The idea behind Facebook is that you only add people you actually know. That way, all your contacts will be assured that you personally know each one and can vouch for them. But I’m in a peculiar business of creating comics which has that side effect of me being known by a number of people who I don’t know and have never met. I also do videos on You Tube and because of those things, people get a perceived familiarity with me. They get to know me, at least a particular aspect of me. And so if they see me on Facebook, they want to add me. And because I don’t want to alienate those people who read and appreciate my work, I add them. I have added quite a lot of people who I don’t know and have never met.
I don’t know who they are, what kind of people they are, their beliefs and opinions and life, who their friends are and so forth.
So naturally, my “Home” feed is filled with posts from people I don’t know. They post their photographs and statuses and links, and more often than not, they post their opinions about politics and religion and things like that, and I often feel offended or pissed by what they say because in many instances I don’t agree, specially when opinions are baseless, not backed up by facts, and sometimes just downright STUPID.
I made the mistake once or twice of engaging in arguments, but I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know that it doesn’t really do any good. Such issues have been debated about for years or even decades without resolution. Why do I delude myself into thinking resolution to years old debates can be settled with one God damned Facebook post?
Opinions of my close friends, no matter what they may be, I can stand. I can even engage in debate about it in a nice way. But the idiotic opinions of strangers? I got no patience or time for that.
Of course, I can “unsubscribe” from them or even defriend, but I just don’t have the time. My contacts list has grown to Facebook’s limit of 5000. I don’t have the time to individually “unsubscribe” from people I really don’t want to hear from. I tried to start doing it, but wow, it was just too much work.
That’s why I think my Facebook is broken.
Early on I didn’t know I could have used a PAGE right from the start, but back then they were called “FAN PAGES”, and I detested the idea of me creating one of those for me. Remember those times? Instead of “liking” a PAGE, you had to to “Become a Fan Of”. And that didn’t sit right with me. So I stuck with a personal profile, adding only real people and not groups, characters, businesses etc.
I can always delete my account, but I don’t think I can do that. There are legitimate friends on my list, friends who I wish to remain in contact with. Plus I still need a forum on which I post announcements with regards to my work. Facebook is still very useful in that regard.
Not all of the strangers on my contacts lists are like that of course, but there are quite a few. There are more people who seem to be OK with me than not. And there are a few people on Facebook who I met through that site who are now my actual friends, so it’s really a two sided thing.
So on Facebook I remain, but not like I used to. I can still respond to things here and there only if someone tags me and makes me aware there is a question for me. Otherwise, I would completely miss it. I do still visit individual profiles of my close friends to see what they’re up to. Nowadays, I do all my posting on my PAGE, which is set up differently from a profile. I don’t get to read posts by people who “like” my page, so that’s great. I get to share stuff and engage people there which is just perfectly fine.