As an online business owner, I sort of have to use Facebook.
After all, it is one of the largest mediums of communication in the world. Over 2.5 billion people on there. Most of my market is on there. It is one of the major ad networks. There’s just no getting around it.
But, Facebook is annoying. I actually think that it has developed to a point of being bad for public discourse. It is bad for productivity, too.
I’m connected to many people who… instead of spending their day focused on their work and making a positive impact in the world… seem to be sitting on Facebook a huge chunk of their day engaged in political conflict. Sharing news stories that confirm their bias. Engaging in massive virtue signaling. Arguing with others who don’t share the same view.
Their world is pretty much one of conflict. A kind of tribal teamsmanship and they’re engaged in that battle throughout the day instead of doing something meaningful. And Facebook is their medium.
To say that is a waste of time is an understatement. But, worse…
I just think it is bad for people. It is bad for the mind.
It used to be that Facebook was mostly about personal updates from your friends. But, over time, it seems to have evolved into a 24/7 virtue signaling network. If we were to sum up 50-60% of the posts I see in my feed, it would be with this one statement: “I am right and you are wrong. And I care more than you do.”.
That’s not valuable.
Now, none of this is meant to be dismissive or disagreeable with the points people make on there. I don’t use the word “virtue signaling” just to refer to posts I don’t agree with. I mean it quite literally. People are signaling their virtue to others. Trying to influence others’ opinions.
I’m tired of the tribalism. It is a big “us vs them” game. And the atmosphere on Facebook (and Twitter is worse) is rather toxic.
So, what to do?
As I said, I have business uses for it. I also have people I like to remain connected to and see their updates.
I find myself in a position of making a choice:
- Block the whole damn newsfeed?
- Take the time to cull my friends list to get it back to a better atmosphere.
- Forget it and just stop going there so much.
I’ll figure it out. One such browser add-on I have found is Social Fixer. It can clean things up and filter the newsfeed. Might come in handy. 🙂
I’ll end with a few points here…
#1 – Treat The Facebook Newsfeed With Kid Gloves
It is easily one of the biggest time sucks ever. And when you feel you need to use it because it is so big, it turns into a big catch-22 when the site is literally designed on purpose to suck your attention and have you grasping for the next dopamine hit.
It is like a crack hit.
So, you need to look at it with a very skeptical eye. The newsfeed, unless you carefully curate your friends and keep your circle small, is like a candy bar. It might taste good at the time, but eat too much and it will kill you.
Actually, that’s being too kind. I think comparing it to crack might be more apt. 😉
#2 – Be Responsible With What You Post
The media and certain groups are literally in the business of creating and promoting a chaotic world. It is amazing how much calmer the world is when you simply turn off the news. That’s not reality. It is a fake reality they designed to further certain agendas and keep you glued so you watch the ads.
So, why would you add to the chaos by sharing news stories where, if you’re being honest, is mostly about proving your rightness and virtue?
It doesn’t help anybody. Not even you. And no minds have been changed by it. It literally accomplishes nothing.
The world would be better off if people would think before posting. What ripples are you putting into the world with your social media posts? Are you helping spread chaos? Or are you uplifting people?
#3 – You Get What You Focus On
This is a known thing, in many circles. That which you focus on, you will become.
And so, if you spend much of your time on the Facebook newsfeed, where it is being purposely structured to suck in your attention and many of the posts are being made to spark an emotional reaction on your part… what are you becoming? What are you focusing on?
Is it any wonder people have a harder time focusing on real things in real life?
Is it any wonder people have knee-jerk emotional reactions to events more often, rather than thinking it through first?
The very mediums that people are focusing on are retraining us to “think” that way. It is making sites like Facebook into a control mechanism for our minds and our attention.
And our attention is, perhaps, one of the most value resources we have. Why WASTE it engaged in meaningless conflict on Facebook that does little more than enrich Facebook?
So, Is It A Necessary Evil?
I think Facebook has easily become a net negative in most people’s lives. But, there’s no getting around that it is one of the biggest lines of communication for the world. So, we cannot ignore it.
What we CAN do is take some responsibility for what we add to the echo chamber.
And take care not to fall into the attention trap.
Facebook has turned into crack for most people. No different than drugs.
People can’t even sit at a stoplight for 5 seconds without trying to fill that time by picking up their phone and scrolling through the feed for their next hit.
So, yeah, it’s pretty evil, when you think about it.
But, as online business people, we probably can’t disconnect from it. So, we have to find a way to manage it. Block the whole news feed with a browser add-on? Start punting people off my friends list? We shall see.