Social Media: Sorry, It's Too Much Work

I tried an experiment.

I say here this week looking at Playboy's brave move to leave Facebook entirely and it made me ask the question, "Should I?"

Once you have that question you know you are leaving, so it opens up all sorts of interesting options. Like this one, "Is there any way I can make Facebook better for myself?"

I am one of those users who uses the service as a friend magnet, picking up all sorts of interesting people with a quite liberal definition of the word "friend." This is not how you are supposed to use Facebook, but it is what it has become, so I can go back to how I use the service as my source of unhappiness, I am sure. That aside, a lot of people use Facebook as I do, just as sort of a hang out with an international and eclectic group of people we call friends but we hardly even know.

So, how to make the service better?

Well, what do I want out of this?

Good question. What makes me happy? Seeing information on new books, issues affecting self-publishing, little slice-of-life moments, cat pictures, food, book reviews, sexy pictures, and the sorts of things I like.

What don't I like? Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics. Politics.

Okay wait, let me further define that. Politics. Righteous cause videos. Making fun of political figures. Anything hot-button issue related, such as gun tragedies or gun rights, immigration pro or con, impeachment pro or con, crimes by political candidates, healthcare this way or that way, conspiracy theories, or any other wedge issue some activist group left or right is getting paid to push on the platform and users are encouraged to share and spread around like a head cold. Basically, anything shared that either makes me sad, upset, or angry.

It is not that I don't care, it is that I have had enough. My whole life outside this platform is wrapped up in these issues, I can't get away from them when I turn on the news, so the only value Facebook has to me as a place where I can spend a few moments with writers and other people that share the things I do. Otherwise, I feel what I feel and I believe what I believe.

I am not on Facebook to share political causes nor take part in spreading them around. I see little value in them because when you look at your circle of friends, you tend to believe the same things anyways, so you are not really changing anyone's mind, raising awareness, or bringing any real value to the cause other than participating in a circle of conformation bias.

Voting? Yes, do that. Please do that. I did and I accept the result and will try harder next time to vote for the things in which I believe. That is how democracy goes.

But all I see on my feed is politics. Things which upset me. The current system, my news feed, it is all but useless to me. I can get what I see from any random comment section anywhere, and there is some rule of the Internet out there where if the conversation starts out about anything, such as iPads, it will devolve into an argument about politics within 20 comments.

So I either leave Facebook because it has become a cesspool or I try to make things better. So what do I do?

Bitch mode activated. Block this site. Snooze this user. Block that site. Never see those videos. Snooze this person who only shares activist videos. Snooze him, block her, unfriend that, and I am sitting here taking a weed whacker to my news feed. I come back in a couple hours and again, my news feed is filed up with political garbage. Snooze this, block that, un-see that, no animal cruelty videos oh my god blocked forever, no accident videos please, I forgot that political hack site block them, nope do not care sorry blocked, and so on.

And I do this the next time I log in in a couple hours and my news feed seemed filled by weeds which would not go away nor could I control them. I have so many users, hundreds of them, slept for 30 days I get this feeling in a month I will be back at this again when all those users get unblocked and the weeds come back again.

And I did this over and over, every couple hours logging into my account and blocking and snoozing anything political. I did this all week, day after day. By the third day I realized I had made a dent, and my news feed started changing.

At this point I ceased caring anyways, I have one foot out the door so I did not care how much damage I was causing to my news feed, I just wanted out of this madness. Moreso, I wanted to see if I could make things a little better for myself, to find that reason why I should stay and keep subjecting myself to this really terrible social media service run by spammers and bots.

On the fourth day, I saw a news feed filled with recipes, cat videos, news about self-publishing, little slice of life bits, videos from foreign lands that were cool and interesting, travel videos, sexy pictures, vacation pictures, and the content that I generally enjoy when I use the service. I felt real people were sharing things again. It was as if I had rolled back time five years and things were pre-election and happy. Every once and a while I had to block a political video or activist site, but not often enough to feel I was out in a field of dandelions fighting a losing battle.

I actually participated again, sharing some issues concerning self-published authors.

I hadn't done that in years.

I logged back into the service from time to time and just scrolled through my news feed, and commented on random things which brought me joy. I hadn't done that in years either.

Facebook had become an important part of my little publishing world again, and it seemed like an interesting place to spend some time. Amazing. My little experiment of self-destructing my news feed and not caring who I blocked or tossing activist sites in the bin actually created a place where i got that feeling that I was missing something if I did not log in again as soon as I could.

You know that feeling? The Facebook euphoria that we used to have back before the platform collapsed. That. I had that.

Of course, if you are pissed I blocked your political videos you may be a little mad at me, but that is not what I care about and please respect my decisions of what I want to see when I log on. I respect yours. I am just filtering what I see, not what you share.

I feel the experiment was worth it. I really do. I enjoy using the service again, and I an engaged and happy again when I am on there. You can say I practiced my own sort of confirmation bias by eliminating anything which made me upset and creating a little world of the things which I actually cared about. Guilty of trying to make myself happy, yes, and it was worth it.

If only life were so easy.

The moment came when I turned around and saw a pile of pulled weeds and yard garbage in a pile higher than my head. I realized I had spent four days, with five or six long sessions each day, cleaning and weeding my news feed to get it into this state. I realized that in 30 days, a good 75% of those snoozed political users and spammers would be back in my news feed again, and I would be pulling weeds again. Yes, it would have made more sense had I blocked them and unfriended them entirely, but I have this false hope of giving people a second chance and not shutting out those who may still provide me with ideas and observations which enrich my life.

In 30 days I may feel differently as well, so there is that. People change, but right now my bullshit tolerance is very low.

And then I had this feeling that all of this was too much work. I could be writing and doing the things I love, or cleaning up the dirty bathroom that Facebook brings into my life each day. When I clean a bathroom, I expect it to stay clean for a while, and not turn into a piss-encrusted dungeon of filth within a couple hours. At that point, I get new roommates, or I become a new roommate myself.

So I get this feeling that social media requires just too much work to be a useful part of my life.

I am not leaving yet, but I have this sad feeling I am on my way out.

There is a second part of this realization and battle and it has to do with erotica and the publishing industry, and I shall get to that part soon. Again, it is a sad story that has to do with putting in too much work for too little effort, and being silenced by the big players who wish to control the market. I believe there is a battle to control sex and deviancy, or what sells, so the small players cannot play. It is the same line of reasoning why some say prostitution laws are primarily meant to control the economic power of women; as I feel the current tide of publishing rules, search filtering, and store censorship are meant to protect larger publishers versus the small independents. That is for a later time, and I would like some of the current developments in self-publishing to play out before I make my feelings known.

Right now I am facing a more personal decision.

If Playboy can leave Facebook because of social media policy, a lack of ethics, and policies which support sexual repression, surely I can as well.

And now I am faced with the same decision regarding the largest book publisher in the world. I have the same feelings. I don't make all that much from them anymore. And with these new developments in reviews and stripping search rankings I don't see it getting any better. I am not going to pour days of my life into books that never will have a chance of being read. I realized that is why I have trouble completing a project. If it is never going to be found and read, why bother?

Would stepping away make the world a better place? Would I do the world a favor by pointing readers to alternative stores, such as Smashwords or other places?

Would I make more money putting my books out there for free and asking for reader donations and support?

I make so little these days with the bookseller I publish on I wonder. And the future does not look bright. Not with the constant fighting going on over terms of service and adult dungeoning. Again, just like Facebook, I tire of this constant fighting and weeding to make a service which should be working and useful to me somehow great for me again.

At some point in your life you lose faith in the things which you held as certain.

And I have just realized I was at this point years ago but I never fully understood what that meant.

Now, I do.