Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Breaking free from the ZuckerBorg

It's time for me to delete Facebook. 


Update: I just pushed the magic button after spending a good amount of time figuring out HOW to delete FB in the first place. They make it tricksy, those assholes. 

From what I've been told, we'll be receiving whiny emails for the next 30 days, and then they just might actually delete our info (but probably not.)



I've come perilously close to doing so before, but always found an excuse not to click the button. (I use it for work, it's how I find stories, there's a lot of memories stored there, mah friends and, of course, memes ... but probably most that last one ... )

I'd be remiss in not mentioning the small matter of being seriously addicted to the dopamine feedback loop Facebook so handily provides. When there's other life factors like grief, uncomfortable feelings, or hormone imbalances, it's an especially easy escape.

It was so bad for a while I would automatically navigate to Facebook every time I opened a browser window, whether that was the reason I was in front of my computer or not. Or I'd pick up my phone and notice a notification and three hours of scrolling later I'd finally be like, oh yeah, I have real life shit to do.

I've broken free for periods of time, but somehow I always end up back in the Zuckerborg, scrabbling around for those little red circles to shore up my own insecurities.

I take full responsibility for my own inability to correctly manage time on the app, with the caveat that Facebook's sole purpose is to keep you locked on their screen, absorbing content, which translates to profit, profit and more profit (billions and billions and billions of dollars.) 

Plus, they have a technological army constantly redesigning, tweaking, testing, experimenting and collecting information to suck you in and feed that profit machine.

Most of the time, I get nothing of value from my long scrolls through my news feed. Scroll, like, scroll. Sad react. Happy, funny, RAGE RAGE RAGE RAGE RAGE. (unfriend, unfriend, unfriend.) Oh shit, it's been three hours. Repeat.

Using the platform has always taken a huge toll on my mental health, but especially lately. Remember when we couldn't blast our stupid, uneducated opinions and unfounded beliefs to two billion other human beings? Remember when there used to be actual consequences for saying terrible, stupid shit? That was a nice time.

I've unfriended gobs of people in the past three months, which sucks because I don't want to live in an echo chamber of my own opinions (even though apparently that's acceptable now), but I don't even know how else to DEAL with some of the unscientific, idiotic, misinformed DRIVEL that pours forth from the fount of Facebookery.

The final straw for me, however, is how Facebook categorically refuses to take any sort of responsibility for anything on their platform. Patently false? 🤷 Racist? 🤷 Sexist? 🤷 Inflammatory? 🤷 

This really, really, really bugs me. We've allowed Facebook to replace well-sourced, researched, fact-checked, credible information with utter bullshit, and they don't give a flying fuck.

I witnessed the dark side of the platform this week while covering a peaceful vigil for black victims of police violence (a sentence I can honestly say I never thought I'd type, living where I do.)

Some resident started a rumor that the, again – PEACEFUL – vigil, would be bussing in Black Lives Matter protestors and posted the information to a fringe page on Facebook.

It blew up, and then it grew, as these things always do. Pretty soon, Antifa was coming. Protesters were suddenly being paid, and they were going to tear down the veteran statue and start a riot, to boot!

If you have even a quarter of a brain, you recognize how ridiculous this idea is. 

I can just hear protestors thinking, "Travel several hours to a peaceful vigil in a tiny rural Colorado town 99% of people have never heard of? SIGN ME UP!"

But I mean, it's on Facebook, so it must be true, right?

The rumors spread far enough and fast enough that by the time we arrived to take photos and do our journalism thing, there were at least 200 ... counter-protesters? It wasn't a protest, so I'm not sure that's the right word. Spectators, which is what we landed on for the newspaper article, made more sense, but that doesn't really convey the generalized menace in the air. 

It was a nasty Facebook comment thread personified, and it was not pretty.

(For context, 200 is 10% of the population of the town. That's UNHEARD of unless there's free food or high school sports involved.)

Thankfully, nothing terrible happened, but I have to wonder how the hell these people are supposed to go back to being nice neighbors. ( ... heyyyyyy, sorry I tried to bully you out of holding beliefs that are different than mine. How's your grandma doing, by the way?)

On a larger scale, how can this fracture in our society ever heal?

Between the anonymity that gives keyboard warriors full license to say whatever hateful shit they want free and clear, the heady sense of empowerment that comes from finding out a whole lot of people happen to agree with you, and the ability of misinformation to spread like absolute wildfire ... simply put, Facebook is speeding up the downfall of the human race.

(Need something worse than my mild experience at the peaceful vigil? Here you go:

In the words of Zuckerberg himself, if we keep allowing this to happen, we are some seriously "dumb fucks."

So that, friends, is the overly long and convoluted explanation I really owe no one. The TLDR? Life is too fucking short for this shit. 

I'm actually really excited to see what's happening in the world, without a screen in front of my face.

Peace out ✌

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