Posts tagged facebook

My Year in Social Media

Last year around this time I talked about trying to stop contributing to corporate social media: Facebook-Free in Twenty Eightee-n. That went ok. I stopped using Instagram altogether. I posted three pictures to Facebook in 2018. I deleted my Twitter account in August (Twitter Breakup) and then went back and claimed my username so it couldn't be used for evil. (I got my username back too late to save the 11-year archive which is mildly annoying—but also ok.) And I do still read Twitter ocassionally through a significantly smaller window. I didn't post to Flickr at all. (That might change now that they're under new ownership.)

So that's some kind of progress. How is my current relationship with social media? To put it in meme terms:

Leaving social media does not make it go away. If you work on the web in any capacity (I do), the big sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are omnipresent. It seemed like each week of 2018 brought a new jaw-dropping revelation of Facebook mismanagement. Google leaked user data, hid it, and employees were in the streets asking for fair working conditions. Twitter is a platform for Nazis because they incentivize engagement above all things and do not adequately handle abuse. I agree with Anand Giridharadas who posted this Twitter thread: "Trying to fight a predatory, politically connected monopoly through heroic personal responsibility doesn't work." We need regulation.

So that's depressing! I wouldn't call it heroic responsibility, but I did change my online habits quite a bit in 2018. I now read and post social messages via Mastodon which is a distributed kinder, gentler Twitter. I wish more people would make the switch so I could close my Twitter reading window altogether. I stopped posting photos online which is something I used to enjoy. I'll make an effort to post them here more frequently.

In October I did start posting more frequently to this site which means I also started paying more attention to my site metrics. Last week I made a snarky post about Google Analytics which was my poor way of processing this. I deleted it because the fact is, Google Analytics is a necessary tool if you work on the web. Necessary, but I don't like the way it turns people into numbers. So that's a tension I'm trying to live with and the answer might be that I shouldn't use web marketing tools for personal projects. I'd like to have a way to know if what I'm writing here is being read and resonating, but not if it means getting alerts and notifications that traffic is dropping, engagement is lower, and people are bouncing away forever. There has to be a more humane way to visualize and engage with web audiences.

My wish for social media in 2019 is for new leadership at all of the major web companies. I don't think we'll ever see them disappear, nationalized, or regulated in a meaningful way. I'd like them to have a less central role in how we create and share online. I think some new leaders could steer the companies away from growth-at-all-costs toward a more ethical relationship with users. I'd like to see them usher in the era of maintenance! That's where they take the amazing tools they've built and optimize them to work within society.

Facebook-Free in Twenty Eightee-n

My growing sense of dread about the corporate social media networks that dominate the modern web has prompted twin 2018 resolutions: 1.) Do not contribute content directly to social media networks owned by corporations. 2.) Break the daily habit of consuming information directly from Facebook and Twitter.

I feel like I need to do some extra work to find new ways to connect with people. I think Jason Kottke is on the right track with his new newsletter, Noticing. (And I can't believe I'm saying this as someone who has always had a strong preference for web over email.) I do enjoy seeing personal updates from friends on Facebook, but there's a lot of garbage you have to take in with it. A little rancid meat can really ruin a milkshake. So what if we all had personal email newsletters and we could just enjoy each other's updates with no garbage mixed in?

Keeping up with thoughts and ideas from folks in my industry is trickier. Twitter works well for that. It's just that in addition to jokes and news you also need to take in heaping piles of garbage while feeling complicit in advancing the Earth toward its final days. I shouldn't have to feel terrible to connect with friends and peers. I'm staying away from Twitter to see if I can find other ways to connect. Ways like visiting websites directly and subscribing to newsletters. I think Twitter the company is making terrible decisions and I don't want to feel like I'm contributing to their network growing in any way. My only option is to stop feeding it attention and jokes.

Breaking my daily Twitter and Facebook habit has been easier than I expected. I uninstalled the apps from my phone some time ago but I was still visiting and posting in a web browser. Simply logging out of these services is enough of a speedbump to remind me that I don't want to be there. The habit tries, but little speedbumps are enough to stop it. I've also made Kindle my go-to app for wasting time with my phone. If I need a break or need to kill some time I'll read a book instead.

As far as sharing thoughts, links, and photos I'll still be posting here but not at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr. I'll probably start a mailing list with family news for friends. I'm hoping all of this will help me find ways to stay connected with people I care about without a publicly traded intermediary. That was the promise of the Web in the first place and it's not working out. With some exploration and work maybe we can route around the web behemoths.

Want to connect with me outside of Facebook or Twitter? I still use email. (Though I'm still bad at it.)

Here are a few links I've been thinking about:

Saturday Links

Bleak edition.
Puerto Rico
Web Design
And after all that you'll probably need to recoup with some Ronnie James Dio singing as a psychedelic frog:

  • Rushkoff's talk at WebVisions last month. His premise: our underlying economic system is never disrupted and it's bad business.
  • Anil talks about the tightening APIs that are forcing ThinkUp to shut down. I've been a ThinkUp user since the days you installed it on your own server. ThinkUp tried to help you understand how you use services like Twitter and Facebook. Big thanks to Anil and Gina for helping us do that for so long.
  • (MeFi's own) hoder became a human time capsule spending six years in an Iranian prison for blogging. He's shocked by the state of the Web: "The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking."
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