Facebook, the dreaded yet favorite social media platform that everyone seems to be on. A lot of people close to me use Facebook everyday; some of my family and friends have embraced it as a new way of getting “news”. It also just so happens to have posts from loved ones too. This embracement by my family is why, at times, I grapple with this fear of missing out.
Granted, I don’t want nor feel the need to be apart of every conversation my family has — whether on social media or not. But after logging into Facebook for what feels like over a year, I do see a lot of sharing from family members that I wish I had been apart of.
As I scroll through Facebook it isn’t hard to stumble on some toxic posts about politics and clearly untrue conspiracy theories posted as true things. Yet, I still found myself happy to see in-laws, cousins, and old friends posting about their families, events, and things they are doing to get through this pandemic.
I have avoided Facebook completely ever since reading the book Digital Minimalism. The whole idea behind the book is to reflect on how social media and our devices control out lives. The book doesn’t just encourage people to leave all forms of social media but take a more conscious approach to them in our lives.
Even though I hardly used Facebook before reading Digital Minimalism, I still would log in once in a awhile and see what others were up to. My biggest issue with social media and how I use it, is that I don’t contribute, I just consume.
I wrote a post arguing that social media has become just another streaming service that we binge at an even higher rate then Netflix. At least video streaming services like Netflix have shows with limited episodes per season, Facebook is an endless feed of episodes that you can binge forever.
So, because all I do is consume social media I decided that instead of setting limits on how much I use Facebook I would just remove the Facebook app from all of my devices. I did this with Twitter and Instagram too but eventually installed both of those back onto my phone. Facebook has remained off, though, and after about a year I am wondering if that was a bad decision.
What Social Media Apps Do I Use?
Twitter is what I have probably used more than any other social media app. I am a news and opinion junky so my feed on Twitter provides a lot of value to me. Whether it be technology, baseball, fiction, or other interests that I have, my Twitter feed has been curated to provide a richness in content that I look forward in scrolling through when opening the app.
Again, Twitter is just another form of content for me so I have to be careful to not binge my Twitter feed too much in a single day. I feel I have controlled my need to scroll through the infinity pool of tweets but somedays when an Apple event happens or other big news it’s hard to stop opening the app and seeing whats new.
Instagram is my second choice for social media due to me liking what it’s original intent was; sharing photos and it being, for the most part, the main content to scroll through in a feed. Captions and long descriptions were sometimes a thing but I liked the idea that the photo did most of the talking. You could see the beautiful wedding someone attended, or be happy for a friend graduating from college and the context is implied.
Now with Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels, it is becoming a more social media geared toward an influencer style. I know many use stories to share things happening in their lives that they feel doesn’t require a permanent photo on their feed, but when I see that a story has fifty little clips talking about food prep or some political news I tend to just skip it.
How I am changing my attitude towards social media — or specifically, Facebook.
The more I dissect this topic, the more I am realize that their is nothing wrong with how anybody uses these platforms. I think the beauty of technology and apps is that there is no wrong way to use them, everyone can find out what fits their wants and needs for themselves. If Instagram Stories is your way to share your thoughts on something you feel is important, than you do you.
I like to write. Medium has provided a great platform for those like me who want to write long form in an environment conducive to my needs. Medium could be better about it’s social media aspects like better threads for commenting on a post, embedding Medium posts in other platforms, etc. Either way this is my form of sharing things into the world and if I really wanted too, I could summarize this post into a Facebook post easily.
Than why is it that I don’t post all of this on Facebook?
If I am being completely honest, for a long time my answer has been fear. For so long I have talked down about social media and what it represents without really going all-in on social media and trying it out for myself. Maybe back when I was going through a break up 8 years ago, did I post on Facebook regularly — cringe. Even in that case, it wasn’t about connecting with others, I was fishing for likes to appease my bad feelings at the time.
Again, I do want to mention that however you use social media is your choice and I am not here to judge. I am just merely trying to work through what social media is and what it means to me. I think judging others on how they use social media is a lost cause since we will all find a need for these apps in different ways, so we should do what is most comfortable to us.
Though their are some negative consequences in using social media in a certain way. The things we say could also affect another person, so I am not defending everything shared on social media as okay. My point is that, what you do on social media is your decision and with that comes backlash or support — but it is not my place to say you are doing it wrong.
Now, to get back to my answer before, fear. Why do I have fear towards using these social media apps? Well, I know some posts from family and friends can be disappointing and at times infuriating. So I am worried I may lose respect for some of the people I love after seeing the toxic things that they say or do. We all have just as much a right to be upset about of post, as others do to post these things in the first place.
Like my fear of getting upset about seeing someone’s else’s post, my fear also comes into play when thinking about my own posts and its affect on others. My lack of respect for our President may not sit well with many family members and if I were to share something reflecting that opinion, it may cause them to no longer respect me or even worse open up the door to an argument.
Which take us back to what does social media ultimately provide; a platform for conversation. A place for those having the same or differing ideas to be able to share and discuss. If I am not apart of the conversation then I can’t judge nor just assume everything will just turn into arguments. This is wear my reflection on Digital Minimalism currently stands; have I instead ran away from the discomfort of Facebook instead of facing and controlling my emotions that may come from using the app?
I think their is a high possibility that this is a yes. I know their are a lot of other things we should be cautious about in using Facebook. The privacy concerns, manipulation, cohesion, data mining, etc. are all things that we have to be cognizant of when using these platforms. Facebook in particular does many shady things and doesn’t tell anyone or change their behavior until they are called out for it, which is really alarming.
The point I am trying to make is, what control do I really have over my life? Yes, these apps were created and designed in a way to create an addictive habit towards them. But that is also the same with foods or drinks with high amounts of sugars. Oreos, sodas, candy, and cakes are all still available for you to buy and consume as much as you want. It is about our own self discipline that we need to control to create better habits in consuming them responsibly.
Social media can be treated in the same way. Yes, an unhealthy amount of using social media can create negative consequences in your life, but just like sharing a piece of cake with friends and family at a birthday party, sometimes sharing things on social media can be a an exciting and wholesome activity.
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