Miles Jennings

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After a Couple of Weeks (Almost) Facebook Free

When you use Pandora over time, it starts knowing you a bit too well. You start hearing the same music over and over again. You aren't challenged anymore. You feel spoon fed or frozen in time. The AI engine gets lazy.

I noticed this recently with Facebook. People talk about the "echo chamber" of Facebook - it starts predicting your likes and interest, and then simply feeds you that. It feeds off everything that is you - or at least what you are now, and not what you want to be. At it's heart, it's an advertising matching engine, distilling your desires and interests into commercial intent.

At the same time, I saw myself using Facebook too much, mostly at night. It's designed to keep you hooked, and those thousands of software engineers know what they're doing and do it well. 

It was too much - and I started seeing it as a destructive aspect of my life.

Probably like many people, I use Facebook for a lot more than sharing pictures of my kids. I have company pages that I administer, ad accounts that I help manage, and a couple of really valuable groups. Deleting Facebook for real isn't really possible for me. 

But the real issue, for me, is the app. Deleting the app segments your time spent generally to the day, and the net effect is almost the same thing as deletion. After a couple of weeks (essentially) without Facebook, here are some of the things I've noticed:

- You talk more to people - because you have to. Facebook lulls us into a sort of relationship complacency. You feel like you know what people are doing, so you don't need to ask. Of course, Facebook updates are never how people are really doing, that's just their highly curated blend of what they want the broad world to see.  

- You haven't heard of everything already. People are so hooked on their feeds that a lot of conversation these days are things people gleaned from Facebook. Starting sentences with "Did you see that thing on Facebook" has to be one of the most common expressions. When you don't use Facebook as much or at all, there's a gap: you haven't seen every meme.

- You go to old media a bit more. Facebook has the most up to date, comprehensive news aggregation service out there. Without that as your starting off point, I find myself going to newspapers and magazine sites a little bit more, where you get editorial versus algorithmic spoon feeding of content.

- You have an extra hour. Maybe this is just me, but I believe I'm getting an extra hour in the day by not having the Facebook app. I started spending much of my last hour before going to sleep checking Facebook, reading news, and seeing what my friends are doing. Without that, I feel a bit like I'm getting a 25 hour day. Now to make the most of it!

I can't think of anything negative about killing off Facebook time. Maybe if there is a bear attack in my neighborhood, I won't hear about it until it's too late. I'm guess I'll have to take that chance.


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