Monday, June 29, 2015

Results from the Facebook Fast

Courtesy of Pixabay.com
My Facebook Fast ended yesterday and I'm rather sad. I liked being off Facebook. It did wonders for me to be able to ignore it and I found myself with far less wasted time. I complain about being nonproductive and I knew that Facebook was a huge part of the problem.

Let me be very clear here. This is my problem. If you can sit in front of facebook for hours on end and feel useful, good for you. If you don't spend but a few hours a month on it, that's wonderful. I view it as a problem. I'm an information addict and it is easy for someone like me to get sucked into "info dumps". That's a place where there is unlimited data with a varying levels of value. The problem is you have to sort it. That takes time, wasted time.

While I did cut down dramatically - from 51 hrs in May to 24 hrs in June - that is still too much time wasted on Facebook. Twenty-four hours spent on anything that doesn't profit me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or financially, is a waste.

So, with that in mind, I still have to do something. I downloaded the Block Site from the Chrome store in mid-June to aid me in avoiding Facebook and it did help. I was able to override it when I needed to go in for group items or to check on my family. I will continue to use Block Site to control my access and time on Facebook. Even with it, there were a few days I spent far more on FB than was necessary. One day I spent 7 hrs. No one paid me either.

I noted that the worse I felt, the more I was apt to go to Facebook and I didn't feel better when I got off. When I was busy with crochet, reading, writing, working in the yard, or the house I had no desire to even bother with Facebook. But, once on Facebook, I immediately lost track of time and was sucked into the vortex of sludge in the stream. Yes, sludge. I needed a shower after my swim most of the time.

When I realized the draws, I started paying more attention and evaluating what I was seeing, rather than just reading what friends and family posted. There is a lot of garbage that I'm feeding my brain. In general, I tend to read scientific, historical, educational, crochet, or craft items most but on Facebook nothing is arranged in any order and you have only two choices, Top Stories or Most Recent. So one is forced to swim through all the other debris to reach the items that most interest you.

Traditional advertising gimmicks serve as hooks to pull you into things that look interesting. Recently, I found an article of historical photos that I saw months ago. I have now seen it four times under different headlines to make it look like a new post. Also, videos are a problem if they aren't on YouTube. You may want to see one video but are pulled onto a site which has three videos playing in the sidebar that you can't turn off and you can't find the mute button on. These are time sinks and bandwidth devourers that take forever to view.

One of the problems is that if you have a very diverse group of "friends" you're going to get a lot of junk. We don't all share the same politics, religion, and fashion sense. This is the major flaw that I see in Facebook. There is no way to control your content unless you eliminate people from your contacts. You get the good with the bad, the ugly with the beautiful. I've been unfollowing people in the last week. I like the people I have on my list and I don't want to penalize them for their opinions but I also don't agree with some of it. There is only the follow button that gives you any control at all.
Courtesy Pixabay.com

I started comparing my time on Facebook with G+ during my fast. I'm on G+ drastically less than Facebook. The 51 hrs in May on Facebook .... 5 hrs on G+. For June -  FB = 24 hrs: G+ = 5 hrs. Huge difference.  Why? What was different?

  1. I don't have a lot of family on G+ but that isn't much of a factor because I'm rarely conversing with them on Facebook anyway. I do read their posts but not a whole lot.
  2. I actually have more connections on G+ than Facebook. This is due to the way people connect to you. But they don't seem to post as much "stuff" so I'm not wasting time shuffling through it.
  3. Facebook is a random stream of stuff with no organization, no way to organize posts, no way to find a post once it is months old. G+ is organized by interest, communities, and circles. You still have to sort, but they have a tag system, too. If I want to post something about crochet, I have a label for that. If I want to visit the communities I'm in, I select Communities. I can create labels, collections, and everything is sorted under them. Finding things takes way less time and there is less chance of getting sucked into useless items. 
  4. There is more focused, educational, and well-written content and less Buzz Feed, and fewer post with the endless redirect links to the content. There are also fewer links to sites with huge quantities of advertisements and bandwidth sucking content. There is some of that but far less than Facebook.

The reason for these could be because FB has more people. I don't care. I'm never going to talk to a million people, let alone 4 million or billion or whatever the last census said. I'm sorry to say, and if you get offended you can unfriend me from Facebook, but it appears that the level of education is at the upper end for G+. I'm linked to things like Neuroscience,  Health, History Channel, Scientific American, Time, TED, PBS, NPR, Nature, and Bible Gateway. That's the kind of stuff I like to read.

Facebook caters to millennials and teenagers, ergo, the content is geared to that: clothes, jewelry, loudmouthed videographers, every pet known to man, children, and food. There's more but to avoid becoming even more offensive, I'll stop there. Yes, there is some of that on G+ but quality far exceeds quanity there.

The net result is that it takes far less time to go through my G+ stream and read the items of interest, targeted to me,  than it does to wade through the stream on Facebook and sort out the debris. Facebook's idea of "target" is to put ads up they think will suck you in.

Yes, I'm arrogant. But I appreciate structure and order and I like feeding my brain amazing stuff.

Overall, I've learned a lot about myself through this 30 day Facebook Fast. It was important. It matters what I feed my mind and soul. I'm not happy being controlled by social media. I intend to retain my independence and to guard my brain against the effects of the sludge. If I fail to do this, it is no one's fault but mine.

I can choose to fill up on cute cats, funny dogs, adorable babies, and insulting articles from both sides of the political and religious fences. I'm sick of it all. Alternately, I can read good books, make beautiful crochet items, make repairs to my house, write stories, mow the grass,  watch movies with Mike, or just sit on the patio. I've decided for me, that is far better than swimming in cesspools.


2 comments:

  1. Well done you. I dread to think how many hours I waste each month on social media of some form or another. But I'm also getting better at doing other stuff and I usually only check FB once a day. I think being aware of the issue is a good sign and sometimes it's nice to just sit and not worry about being productive. As long as it's not too often ;)

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  2. I have an app on my computer called Rescue Time. It is for Chrome but you can have it on your computer too. It logs the time I spend on everything and allows me to set priorities. What is productive time and what is not and what is neutral. Initially when I started it months ago, I was stunned. Since I've tweaked it quite a bit, I got better but the social media stuff was still just ridiculous. This month, I'm doing much better but I'm still not happy with it.

    Now I'm reading more, watching t.v. more, doing more work around the house. I don't want to get back into t.v. too much. I've never watched much t.v. but lately I'm having lots of fatigue so I can't physically do much of anything for long. At any rate, I'm doing less FB and that was my initial goal.

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