Goodnight Facebook, Goodnight Twitter, Goodnight noises…
Goodnight Twitter, Goodnight Facebook, Goodnight noises everywhere…
It’s time to say goodnight to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and all the other different social media dopamine sites out there. Not because I don’t like them necessarily, but more just because it is time to stop the noises everywhere and lean more towards growth and learning which those sites just aren’t doing for me anymore.
My view is that social media isn’t ‘new’ per se — people have always been social and have always wanted to congregate in some form or other whether physically or ‘virtually’. The Internet and Web2.0 brought about new forms, but essentially social media sites have been tapping into the same need that other services like CB Radio groups or BBS groups provided in the past and which spawned their own subcultures and economies– 10-4, Copy that. People are social and they’ll find ways to connect and the Internet just made it easier.
Even in the internet age, the current crop are not even the first iteration — post dot.com, there were a ton of others like GeoCities, and six degrees let alone MSN, ICQ, AOL before that. And just like bars and night clubs, some networks are flashes, some are cooler than others, and if you talk to any millennial, you will quickly find out where the fuddy duddies hang out. ‘Friendster’ and ‘MySpace’ references already go over the heads of most millennials. Every era has it’s it’s fads. Remember Roller skating rinks or Arcade rooms?
Compared to the real world, Facebook has become the town square. It’s lost its cool, but it can still be a great place to hangout and there are some great events on occasion. But like Times Square, it isn’t where you want to engage with anyone for a deep, intellectual conversation anymore. You wouldn’t go to Leicester Square and expect to find the leading orator of public policy. When you get there, you hear the rants of the folks on the corner raving about how your current lifestyle is going to take you straight to hell, you watch the crowds surround the busker defying gravity by seemingly floating in air, and you people watch for a while, finish your coffee, and then you move on. It’s light, distracting fun.
Facebook is that. It’s enjoyable to go. It is fun to catch up with some old friends who may be hanging out as well. I love going to get glimpses of friends and seeing what they are up to, their birthday parties, their pride in their kids’ accomplishments. I feel compassion for them on sad events, and it makes me feel more connected in that respect. When I first got on to Facebook in 2007, I was enraptured by the ability to meet and chat with so many that I hadn’t connected with for so long. I moved schools 5 times before high school, and it was amazing how many people found me from those years. Overtime, it wasn’t just about those I hadn’t connected with from a younger age, but also to stay connected with those from around the world – the many friends and family that I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know over the years – enlightening and opening my eyes to so much. Twitter did the same when it came along, allowing you to speak with anyone anywhere. But while Facebook has built so many connections up in one way, it has deteriorated others in that those who are not on it, or who are not show cased to you by the algorithm, start to fade. Connections that were lost have been built up, but those that were once deep have devolved into the occasional like and birthday wish conversations. Because you see them online often, it is easy to overlook the value of deeper connecting as well.
And then there is the time suck. If you start to read the unverified stories and videos and get sucked up into it, it can get weary and if you aren’t conscious that some of the rants are things you shouldn’t start engaging with, you can get sucked into the building of snowflake culture full of people who confuse opinions with informed insights. Like the town square, it is also full of the crazy guy yelling about how you’re going to hell, and the busker selling their trades. More and more, it seems like the ranters and buskers are taking over. CB Radio also became a victim of its own success.
On the other hand, I’m not one of those who is leaving because of all the recent hoopla about privacy, and the shock people are expressing about it. That’s more of the snowflake culture that has emerged where people don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions. If anything, it is that snowflake culture that I’m leaving.. Back in 2010, we were competing with Facebook at Yahoo, and our premise, which I think was the right one, is that people don’t want privacy to be dead and that people don’t want to be in bubbles. Facebook took the opposite track and was very open about their position. They famously said continuously that privacy is dead. Yahoo struggled with this with it’s personalization platforms as well, vs Google and Facebook who were open about wanting to target audiences with content and ads. It turned out that for quite some time, Facebook was right. They didn’t hide their position, and people signed up and shared in droves. They loved that they saw content that sounded exactly in tuned with them or allowed them to comment back with a like or a smart reply. They loved that ads were tailored to them despite being told ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product‘.
Then Trump happened. And Cambridge Analytica happened. And now people are realizing what a mess this can be. It isn’t as though FB said they were going to protect our privacy though. Saying ‘Well I didn’t realize how bad it could be’ isn’t an excuse. It isn’t Facebook’s problem people don’t understand what they’re doing. They disclosed it over and over and over. Privacy is dead. I remember all those posts people used to put up ‘FB, you don’t own my content, I do and I don’t give you permission’. Yeah, right…. That should be Facebook’s defense. ‘Your honor, we’d like to submit the following evidence of the lack of intelligence’… Look at how TikTok and other sites are continuing to rise… Truth is that people are not concerned about privacy, they are just looking for a scapegoat for thinking reading buzzfeed and all the other clickbait sites made them informed and then making poor choices.
Those complaining now that they didn’t understand, are like those who blame cigarette companies for their ills of smoking tobacco – what did they think was going to happen sucking in some sort of smoke filled air into their lungs for years? Juul smokers – when you find out that vaping is killing you, how can you blame someone else for your choice?
But Facebook’s more recent positions are on the other hand giving me cause to re-evaluate. Facebook has realized that governments are trying to attack them from all sides — from the left and the right – and are worried about being regulated like other media channels, so they are starting to create their own regulations. One thing scarier than a town square full of crazy people, is a town square that is regulated by some for profit organization with unknown ultimate goals. That’s no different than Fox News, CNN, or BBC then. It basically becomes a propaganda machine then.
I will still pop into Facebook some times for the nostalgia. If Sunday night Phoenix were to open again, or Fever nights, or even Aztecs, I’d be there for sure — but likely not every Sunday anymore though. There comes a time when every great club is better for the memories.
Twitter on the other hand has become worse. It is the devolution of humanity happening in real time. Where before when we had a thought, we mulled it over, and unless we were witty enough to respond immediately, we just moved on. On Twitter we shout it out to everyone. ‘Just got a coffee – they spelt my name wrong AGAIN! hashtag the world isn’t diverse, hashtag I’m excluded, hashtag snowflakes unite’
I’m guilty of it too. When I got on Twitter in 2007 – it was like magic – a tweet out about poor service, immediately resulted in a rectifying solution. I was hooked. Brands were using it to gain followers – I was a loyal fan of Tassimo for over a 10 years because as an early follower, I received a Tassimo machine. But 10 years later, when my machine started to fail, they were nowhere to be found. They seemingly have even all but abandoned their Twitter account. They must have realized the negative noise wasn’t worth the positive.
I stopped directly tweeting on Twitter back in June last year. The breaking point was when I started to analyze the workings of a second account I created which only followed my primary one. I noticed that the daily emails that Twitter sent to that second account were flooded only with tweets from people that would trigger me. Full of rightwing nitwits who are just out to stir the pot. Stop to understand that — an account which followed only one other account, was receiving content that would trigger the followed account holder with the hope it would ‘engage’ the other account as well. It would be like going to a nightclub which constantly played music which offended me — why keep going?
Unlike the real world though, in the social media world we get a microphone after something offends us so that we can say something witty back. And worse, you don’t really have to be witty — you can take hours to think up the perfect response and then send it as though it was an ‘instant’ thought. And hopefully a publication within the cottage industry of sites built off of just yelling ‘look what twitter says about so-and-so’ will pick up my tweet and I will get the dopamine hit of people liking my tweet. You might get lucky and that site might get shared on to Facebook. And then the dopamine hits go wild. Twitter may want to be the public square, but in reality, today Twitter has morphed into a cesspool of noise of self-promotion which caters to some of the most vile of our instincts — wrath, pride, greed, acedia, and more. It is an important marketing channel, but as a ‘social’ network it is painfully more an anti-social network. It’s become a fight scene in the Wanderers. And with the US 2020 elections coming, it is going to get worse. It was easy to drop it despite it being my favorite network back in the late 2000s.
I’ll admit that I really do miss what it was. It is a far cry from the early days, where there was a daily barrage of insights. I could see what Noam Chomsky was saying, I could chat with a professor from a university on the other side of the world. It introduced me to so many amazing peoples from different walks of life in Toronto (remember Twestival?) and globally. But like the Internet in general, it has slowly become a morass of info. Google came along and helped to curate the web, and someone needs to help curate Twitter. Otherwise the value isn’t there and there evidence that Twitter is making you dumber. I don’t care about everyone’s opinions on things that they know nothing about.
All this led me to start saying good night Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest, and more to follow. I’ve always strived for optimal learning whether it be academia, partying, creativity, or just experiences in general. Facebook and Twitter both served that purpose for a long time. But the ROI has declined.
So where is that ROI now?
On a daily basis, my daughter is showing me a new world. Such simple things are opening my mind and world to things I’ve either ignored or forgotten — the other day she started to shout ‘da! da! da!’ — ‘da’ is her way of saying ‘duck’ and anything that flies is a duck to her. That day a flock of birds were flying above us, and she was so excited about them — I wouldn’t ever have noticed them and the simple beauty of birds flying in formation, had she not pointed them out.
I recently watched as she gave a hug to a kid at the library who was refusing to share a toy with her. She gave him the toy, gave him a hug, then turned and went about her day smiling. I got my lesson in emotional intelligence from her that day, and I’m continuously finding that ROI with her is far higher than the ROI on many of the current social media sites that I’m on. In order to make more space, here are some others that I’m saying goodnight to.
This was easy to delete…. who uses tumblr anymore (apparently Taylor Swift…).
A bit more difficult. Needed to download my entire history and then ended up looking at each picture and recalling the different restaurants and places I had been – I supposed I could have just pulled the bandaid and deleted it without looking at the data. It is sad because it seemed that Foursquare had a chance to be the network to provide the most real value.
This wasn’t ‘hard’ per se as opposed to struggling with my indulgence vs value in learning. Pinterest is a beautiful site with so many beautiful things. Which ultimately is why I deactivated it. It nurtures a part of me that I don’t want to nurture – of desire, lust, wanting — if i could use it for specific projects (e.g. home renovation) and not be flooded with everything else, and not be encouraged to come back like all social media sites want you to, then I’d maybe use it again.
Goodnight Snap, Goodnight Reddit.
I’m not done with social media – tech has been in my life since I was 6 and got my TRS-80 — I don’t know how to live without a computer. For now, I’ll still be using Instagram, GoodReads, and LinkedIn and trying out TikTok. WeChat is harder to get rid of as it is the primary form of calling people abroad, but maybe slowly I’ll let it go too. I’m just going to check out some clubs (networks) and venues where I can continue to open up the unknown to me.
I’ll still be about, I’ll still have my blog, and in the past couple years I’ve been getting back to painting and music creation and production which fell off since university. There are some incredible changes happening in music tech (podcast plug: MDLSKL), but more and more I’ll either be exploring the world from the vantage of a toddler, and hoping the space I’m freeing up will be filled with and indulging in the many things from a time before the Internet.
Goodnight noises everywhere. If you need to get ahold of me, you likely already know how.