My Growing Aversion Towards Facebook
Shiny and New
Back in 2007, or so, when I signed up for my first social media account, it was wonderfully exciting. Although there weren't many of my immediate family or close friends who had signed up for MySpace, it was still fun to peruse the site and check out other people's profiles. The novelty of that site soon wore off as it became cluttered and load times increased drastically. Quickly, I moved on to Facebook, where I still, reluctantly, hold an account to this day. I was able to reconnect with old friends and stay in touch with a large number of family members who, otherwise, would have missed out on the many milestones of my children's journey through life.
Little by little, things within the Facebook platform began to change. Some for the better; the introduction of photo sharing and the ability to share more than just a simple note. Then, along came the walls. Not the one that's so feverishly talked about today, but the wall where you could post notes to your friends and vice versa.
Unfortunately, along with these brilliant changes came intrusion and the lack of personal privacy that I prefer. I understand that the goal of "social" media is for people to actually be more social, even if it is behind a computer screen and keyboard, I get that. I, however, miss the days when social media didn't feel the need to show the world all there is to see about me. I miss the ability to stop certain things from being broadcast to the world through the internet and detest the lack of control I now have on my own account.
Show Me Yours
You know the old saying, "Show me yours, and I'll show you mine"? Well, Facebook no longer gives you the option to not "show yours". Sure, they still give you the ability to hide important information about yourself like phone number and location, thankfully. What I'm talking about is the way you can no longer hide what you like and comment on. I don't need every move I make within the confines of Facebook shown to every friend, friend-of-a-friend, and even the entire internet. This control is given to the person making the original post. If they make the post "Public", meaning it can be seen by all Facebook users, then if I comment or like this post, everyone knows about it. Not only is my comment readable by everyone else who looks at the post (that part I'm fine with), but it's then added to my friends timeline, letting them know that I just liked or commented on something, no matter if they have an interest in the person or page I'm interacting with.
It may seem like a small thing, but to me, it feels like I'm at someone else's house, it's dark outside, they have no curtains to cover the windows and all of the lights are on inside. Every move I make within that house can be seen from the outside, by anyone who happens to walk by. I have no control over who, if anyone, has the ability to view the interior of this home. Some would say, "Just don't post to that wall if it's open to the public", and that's exactly what I do. I do nothing. I offer no words of encouragement or lend a helping hand where I'm able. I want to, but I don't. And I don't "like" it either, for the exact same reason, I know I'll be added to all of my friend's timelines. Where is the box that asks, "do you want friends to see what you like or comment on"? Because my answer would be a firm, "no".
If I didn't want you to see mine, there's a good chance that I don't want to see yours either. I don't need to see every comment my friends make on a post, especially if it's a post made by someone I don't know or wish I didn't know. I also don't want to see every post they like. Some people, members of my family who are from an older generation, for example, don't realize that this is happening. Do I need to see every recipe that my mother-in-law likes? Or a photo of a horse that my friend comments, "beautiful" on? No, no I don't. Maybe some people want to see them because they share that interest, or they just feel like seeing those things helps them be a part of that person's daily life. I understand this, and I'm fine with that. I, on the other hand, do not wish to see them. Give back the ability to check that box that says, "see what your friends like or comment on", so I can also say, "no".
The word algorithm has been thrown around a lot in the past few years in regard to all social media. This is a set of rules that the programmer sets up to do specific calculations, in particular, sort through the posts that are made within the Facebook platform, and determine what post you see first when you view your timeline. These algorithms, having changed many times since their introduction, have always had their downfalls. One of my biggest gripes is that Facebook has elected to insert algorithms that choose what they think you want to see first. Therefore, every time a friend likes or comments on a mutual friends post, it shoots that post back up to the top of my timeline. This is known as the "Top Stories" sorting method. However, I've seen it, and I've moved on. I don't need to see it again.
I'm a pretty basic person, at least when it comes to social media. I want to see the posts my friends make, in the order, they're made. Simple as that.
Now, before you say, "just change your settings to Most Recent" and it'll do that. No, no it won't. It may look like it's in order, but I assure you, there are posts completely missing from my timeline. How am I so sure of this? Because, not too long ago, there was a post made by a family member announcing the birth of a child. Although I had been on the site several times that day, that announcement never showed up in my timeline. Was I excluded from this post (one of the good changes made), no? It just never appeared. It wasn't until someone else made a post regarding the new family member, that I was aware. I hurriedly checked the new father's wall, and lo and behold, there it was. Had the ability to maintain a true chronological timeline still been available, I would not have missed out on this milestone, that is, if I could see it through all of the recipes and horses.
Going hand-in-hand with the algorithm is the mystery of the vanishing posts. These are the posts that I see when I log in, but the next time I look at my timeline, they're gone. It doesn't matter the timeline type I choose, Most Recent or Top Stories, it's gone. But just from my timeline, not from the poster's wall. Apparently, there are posts that Facebook has decided I no longer need to see. But a comment someone made on a random person's post will continue to darken my timeline.
And let's not forget the fact that, even though my preferred sorting order of my timeline is Most Recent, every time I log into my account, it has been reset to Top Stories. Aggravating, to say the least. I have never, since the inception of this option, wanted my timeline to be sorted by Top Stories.
And now, with Facebook and Instagram being "sister" social media platforms, it too, has implemented the dreaded algorithms. Thanks for ruining that too.
We all have them. Some are good, others not so much. But with Facebook's "Share A Memory", you're now able to revisit every life event you've ever shared on Facebook, whether via post or photo, and make every one of your friends revisit them too. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm an avid collector of family photos, and I enjoy going through my photo albums and reminiscing. I don't, however, enjoy being subjected to everyone's walk down memory lane on a daily basis. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have friends who will share a memory every day of the week, mostly of their kids or grandkids with the caption "they've gotten so big" or "look how little they were". Yep, we get it, kids grow up.
Fortunately, they do have the option to hide memories shared by select friends, an option I've chosen to initiate with several people already. Certainly, more will follow.
Facebook is, in a sense, a matchmaker. Or at least tries to be. My timeline is always suggesting I follow a page that's similar to one I currently follow, or pages that my friends follow. They also want me to befriend every single person my friends are friends with. I know I should be more social, but I really don't want to be. And believe me, some of my friends and family will click that button, becoming friends with, and following, every single suggestion. More power to them. I, however, like my close circle. My small, secluded world. There's less drama over here. Let me choose if I want to see suggested pages or people because I won't.
Going through all of these annoyances, please understand that I am completely aware that I have the option to "hide" the friends who are repeat offenders of some of these offenses, but in most cases, I don't. I don't want to miss out on the important post or photo when it's being shared for the first time. I just wish I didn't have to see these posts over and over and wish there were more control on my end over what I can and can't have cluttering my timeline, and in the same respect, cluttering others.
Do you enjoy Facebook in its current state?
Today, Facebook announced that they will spend 2018 "fixing" the platform. However, nowhere did they say a true chronological timeline would be an option. Their main focus seemed to be more about businesses and "fake news" not being a forerunner of the new algorithm. There's that word again.
While Facebook will inevitably continue to annoy me, I'll still be here, reluctantly scrolling through my timeline, looking for that one post that captures my interest; the milestones and whatnot. And for that brief moment in time, remind me why I signed up in the first place.
To the people who love Facebook just the way it is, keep on loving this social media platform. And to those just like me who feel like social media is just a little too intrusive with the tendency to over-share, know that you're not alone is the struggle in accepting what we cannot change.
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