After 12 or 13 years as a heavy Facebook user, today is my last day posting on my account there. I have mixed feelings about this.
Facebook is addictive by design. A lot of very smart people work hard to design the platform in such a way that users spend more and more time there. The more time a user spends on the platform, the more money Facebook makes.
Companies design their products in ways that suit their own needs, so I don’t blame Facebook. The people there aren’t evil. They simply have incentives to get me to do things which I have decided aren’t healthy for me.
Social media has been a good thing for me in some respects. It’s allowed me to connect or reconnect with people who wouldn’t have been in my life otherwise. I’ve made friends because of Facebook. The platform enabled me to reconnect with a woman who I then fell in love with as a result. And it’s maintained ties with people I might have lost touch with otherwise.
But those positives come at too great a cost. I believe it’s dangerous for all of us, but I’m especially convinced that it’s unhealthy for me.
I’ve written in the past about my concerns about social media, both for society as a whole and for me in particular. I’ve written quite a bit of other things about social media in addition to those links, but they’re probably good summaries. I don’t want to repeat too much of what I’ve told you before.
For someone such as me — who was raised by a narcissist and still has the emotional scars — social media is doubly dangerous because it allows me to put myself before others with the unspoken questions, “Do you like me? Do you love me?“ It’s an unconscious way to try to gain approval. And it’s not healthy for me.
I have to get away from social media because it gives me tiny jolts of emotional reward — which are ultimately useless — and it channels my energy away from doing work that could be more important in the long run.
It’s the equivalent of eating junk food and then not feeling hungry when it’s time to eat better food.
On social media, we’re performing — especially those of us who feel driven to create anyway — and we have so little control of our audience that we can lose it at any time. The social media platform controls who sees our posts and the platform rewards us for being shallow in ways that create quick engagement of approval. The platform penalizes us for attempting things which aren’t easily understood — and it especially penalizes us for not being popular.
Not only that, but those of us who need to create can’t grow an audience except with shallow and weak ties. If you want to play the game that social media is designed to amplify — because it suits the companies’ financial needs — you can grow an audience. But you can do that only by preaching to a choir. Posts which require more thought — and which invite respectful dialogue with those those who don’t already agree with you — are going to be hidden by an algorithm which cares only about promoting what’s popular and gaining engagement.
Social media will never be a platform to allow me to grow an audience for what I need to create. If I wanted to simply create an echo chamber for people who agree with me — and who like funny and angry posts supporting what we already think — social media is really good for that. It’s not very good for building the sort of audience I need for the work which I need to do.
I have a small group of people who tell me they love what I do, but there aren’t enough of them and I don’t know how to use this medium to grow an audience. I don’t think it’s possible. So I’m taking a chance that I’m talented enough to find an entirely different way to reach a bigger audience — by freeing up more time and taking away the hits of approval that I get now.
Will this work? I don’t know.
I’m giving up something in the short term which I enjoy at times, but I’m hoping it will force me to use my time in different ways. I’m hoping that I’ll be forced to create more work that will have a possibility of attracting a bigger audience, one which can allow me to make a living — instead of just providing free content for a social media platform to turn into its own profit.
For now, I don’t anticipate changing this for the future, but I can’t rule out that possibility. I will maintain the Facebook page for this website — please like and follow — and my articles will still be linked there, but I won’t be posting on my personal account. (I have to let the personal account stay technically active in order to maintain the page for this site.)
For anyone who needs to get in touch with me, my contact information will remain public, as it always has been. My email address is always on this page — and both my email and phone number are prominently displayed on the Facebook page.
It’s time for some more change for me. I hope I have some interesting results to share with you before long.