“Oh, right. You’re not on Facebook.” I don’t know things because people often only communicate on Facebook. When I hear that line it makes me think the onus is on me to keep up with everyone’s lives, especially since I don’t make it easy for them because I’m not available on one particular social platform. Dude. I’m on Twitter and Instagram. I have email, texting, a reliable phone, and I’m extremely google-able. None of this is new. I’ve been super googleable under my name for about 15 years now. I’ve been online daily since 2004. It’s not like I live in a snow cave in Antarctica with ten minutes of availability when the satellite passes overhead.
People are lazy. I include myself in that. I can blame others for not contacting me directly; truth is, I don’t reach out much either. Of course, I didn’t really a lot before. I tend to be a late planner (I’m trying to fix that but I have a hard time not knowing what I want to do before the very day. That’s why things like season tickets to football, conventions, etc, work well for me. They’re planned way in advance and I can schedule around them.
I can’t say it helps with my writing to not be on it, but I can say it creates more opportunity to write and do other things. I’m apparently super susceptible to the algorithm because I was checking compulsively at my computer (and I hadn’t even had it on my phone for 2 years before I dropped off entirely) only to find nothing had changed each time I checked. Same posts. Same people. Different ads, of course. Which leads me to this thought: Am I really missing anything essential? Usually when I talk to people after not seeing each other the important stuff I have learned other ways and the boring or annoying Facebook convos are parsed in about five minutes.
Promotions. There’s no doubt I had more followers on Facebook and have barely able to tap the 1200 mark on Twitter. I’ve had thousands of followers before when blogging and actually stopped because I realized I don’t want to live that life. So I don’t worry too much about it (except when promoting a book). But followers on FB is deceiving because you see so few of them and so few of them see you. I think I was nearing 2000(?) 30 people would see my stuff. So as a promotion tool FB is virtually useless. Ditto Instagram.
I do miss writerly camaraderie and maybe some opportunities. I actually used to be asked to do stories and such on FB. That said, see above. I’m super reachable. But maybe I am more out of sight, out of mind not being on FB? FOMO is real, folks. But that’s not what this is. It’s actually missing out because of not being on a platform, and that’s bullshit. There really isn’t much to do about that because…
I can live with myself better. Yes, I know Instagram is owned by FB but I have a very carefully curated feed over there. It’s not so much social for me, or promotional, as it is just a peaceful place online to go look at pretty rooms and vistas.
Harassment. I think this is the most significant anecdotal data. I’ve been online daily since 2004 and I’ve had some significant episodes of harassment. Once was when I had thousands of followers on Blogger. All the rest were on Facebook. The most notable was when a local Northern Colorado member of the writing community went off on me because I don’t recall why and told me I was a hack writer (I was three NY published books into my career by then, and a dozen short stories). He called me a stupid cunt (the go-to for white American assholes, though it doesn’t shock me much because I read and watch a LOT of English mysteries and crime drama). My regret was not posting, names intact, screenshots of the IM conversation. But he was far from the only one. I had a healthy blocked list (including former friends and even a family member). I have a mild following on Twitter and I’ve blocked exactly one person in eight years for direct harassment (and it wasn’t that bad but I blocked before it escalated). I do block early and often, but usually just because I don’t want purposeful stupidity in my feed.
Will I go back? Fuck no. There is something wrong with Zuckerberg (I suspect he is a sociopath or worse) and there is something significantly wrong about the algorithm and the site itself. They tapped into how stupidity, prejudice, tribalism, and hatred ping our endorphins and it has significantly worsened American society. (Exhibit A: the current occupant of the White House.) I just read an interesting twitter thread from @catvalente about how these big media sites (youtube, reddit, twitter, fb) attract the underbelly of society. And why not? Facebook folks are the easiest pickings of all.