Returning from a Three-month Facebook Hiatus by jgn on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 in Facebook, Social Media, Time Management, and Wasting Time

Happy Valentine's Day or thereabouts.

I took a three-month break from Facebook. Maybe more than that. Anyway, some time in November I decided I had had enough of all of the whining from my friends (hey, convince those other people to vote the other way), badly-targeted ads, and inane attempts by Facebook to addict me to the platform. Yes, I did cheat: I have a couple of friends who are ill, and, worse perhaps, know of the child of a college classmate who is very sick. I've checked in on them; in the latter case I'm glad because I was alerted to an opportunity to donate to a scholarship in the child's name.

I'm going to get back on Facebook.

Of course it has nothing to do with my upcoming birthday.

Here are a few thoughts on returning.

First off, Facebook is a good time-waster, and I was glad to have it off of my phone. But it seems that I still want to waste time, so I switched to Flipboard. (I don't think I have the willpower to not waste some time.1) Unfortunately Flipboard apparently is loading me up with even more stupid articles with titles like: "We Evaluated 12 Protein Bars, and You'll Never Guess Which One was the Most Nutritious." I'm a good guesser but in fact I would have never guessed. I'm a bit of a sucker for those kinds of pitches. Flipboard does have a lot of value, and it's easy to read across a wide range of news sources. Still, it made me reflect on my Facebook time-wasting. The other time-wasters are getting worse. If I'm going to waste time anyway, is Facebook so bad? I have read in the printed newspaper that Facebook is attempting to keep the newsfeed more oriented around what my "friends" are doing, so perhaps it is less toxic now.

Second: I recently spent about 30 minutes the other day just snooping around Facebook (to evaluate the wisdom of ending my hiatus), and one thing that is striking is that if you go away, you can't really figure out what has transpired. Whose families have new members? Who has died? Who's sick? Who announced they were not in harm's way during the various recent disasters? Who has experienced a transcendent personal experience? Whose vacations were said to be better than anything I would do? Dunno. I guess that is an incentive to stay on Facebook, or perhaps that would be an interesting product all in itself: Facebook Catch-Up? I have to stay in the slipstream, at least a bit.

Third: I missed most of #metoo. Well, I caught the beginning of it. I have wondered to what extent my decision to go on Facebook hiatus has something to do with the misery of reading the testimony. Not being there meant that I didn't do much to make clear my solidarity or provide insights into my own self-analysis (we men have a lot to own up to). I did read articles about #metoo in the Times, but it is interesting that I missed the depth of the interaction which was all over Facebook. That means I missed the experience of a significant cultural movement.

Last. One thing that surprised me was that I thought I was going to need to be clicking into Facebook to see events and so forth. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I did pretty well with just my local newspaper and the SongKick application. So . . . if you're thinking about dropping Facebook and are worried about not keeping up with arts events, I think it can be done. Facebook's attempt to monopolize that attention isn't complete, at least not yet.

But, yeah, a dog returns to its vomit . . . (Proverbs 26:11).

1. Yeah, OK, busted: I do get some pleasure from wasting time; maybe too much time, and too much pleasure. I guess this is the real problem. But how much do I waste time? I guess the point is to redirect truly wasted time into something useful. For instance, I might meditate when I got for Flipboard or Facebook. But I don't think I'm that bad. In my family, we don't have our phones out during meals. We read books. I read the printed newspaper. Is 30 minutes/day of grazing news/social media on my phone so bad? I would bet that I waste more time at work looking at pages posted into our chat app.

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