I spend way too much time on Facebook. It’s been bothering me for awhile now but I’ve ignored it. At last count I have 242 friends in that service. With all of the groups that I subscribe to, my likes (and my friend’s likes) and various other interactions there is a lot of background noise on that site. I spend a great deal of time filtering through that noise.
Some of my friends post genuinely funny, witty and relevant content. I love interacting with them and finding out what is going on with them and their families. I also enjoy keeping up with my own family. Facebook keeps me in closer touch with them than I ever was before they started using it. It is a very valuable tool for interacting with the people that I am journeying through this life with.
The rest of the system is a giant noise generation machine. People post the same memes and joke photos repeatedly. Blocking game notifications is a lot like playing whack-a-mole. My likes and my friend’s likes keep cluttering my news feeds with advertisements. I won’t even comment on presidential elections, the gun control debate, how much I love Jesus, support the troops or any other major news story of the day. My news feed settings seem to change from time to time, burying content from the folks that I interact with regularly underneath a digital waterfall. It’s true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you take that one opinion and multiply it by 242 and the sound can be deafening.
I don’t mean this to be a complaint against Facebook. I’ve been using it since it was first released to the public. I still enjoy using it. I just remember when I didn’t need to spend a lot of time every day keeping up with all of that content. I’m burned out. I need a break.
It would seem that the easy solution would be to cut into my friends list. We all have a bunch of folks that we added on a whim, or because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe they were much better friends in the past than they are now. People change. People move on. Paths diverge and people head off in opposite directions. No hard feelings, right? It turns out there are hard feelings after all. Somewhere along the way people started tying their personal identities into their Facebook profiles. Some people (myself included) don’t mind if they get removed from other’s friends lists. It’s nothing personal. After all, it’s just a website, right? Others take it personally. The first time I had to deal with personal fallout from my friends list was an eye-opening experience. Fast forward to today and I’m getting tired of worrying about it. I could hide them from my news feed. I could even limit what they can see. That’s not the point though. It’s my profile, not theirs. When I start feeling like I can’t remove people because of how they will take it then I’ve lost control of my information. I find that to be unsettling.
The fact that I’m tired is also troubling. It means that this social network has become way too heavily integrated in my daily life. I’ve been going back and forth with this decision for a long time now. I’ve finally made up my mind. I’m going to take a break. I’ll write about that process as I work through it. Will it stick? Will I be able to handle the silence? Time will tell. I’ll write more on this decision later. For now though, it feels good to have finally made up my mind. Instead of reading Facebook today I think I’ll read a book!