Why I spend less time on FB these days

An open letter to all my friends and our big brother, Mark –

Thought you might want to know why I’m spending less and less time on Facebook these days – and not “liking” or otherwise responding to people’s posts as much as I used to.

First, Mark – I know you need to make a living, and that you do this by selling our eyeballs to advertisers. I don’t have a problem with this.

For most of us, Facebook friends are a pretty self-selecting group – people we’ve known for a while as well as those with whom we’ve shared a meal, holiday or similar encounter. We know each other’s likes and dislikes. So…when I open my page and see every commercial and inspirational item my friends have “liked” my eyes glaze over and I log off and move on in my web surfing. I’m more interested in what my friends are doing than in what or who they’re liking. If they intentionally “share” something, that’s fine with me. Perhaps a sampler rather than a catalog of these “commercial” and data-collecting survey reports would keep me on your page. I understand the marketing reasoning behind showing me the likes and shares of my friends’ distant friends, but for well over 90% of the cases I’m exposed to, I really don’t care that somebody’s third uncle four times removed mentioned them in a post. And I’m not going to spend all my time clicking that I don’t want to see advertising that’s using my friend’s name as an introduction.

Oh, and one more thing, Mark. While I was disappointed that one of your more recent algorithm changes drastically cut the viewership of my blog page, I understand, because it’s not a commercial venture. My response percentages are the same as before and I get the “old” volume of readership when I post the item on my personal page. But I will admit that you’re not giving me much of an incentive to try to build the page’s following.

And now to the trigger for this note. While the items I’ve mentioned above have been stewing for a while, here’s what put me at the keyboard today: Privacy –

When I was looking for reasons for my page’s glacial speed, I stumbled across a security setting and found that even though I’d logged out from my phone’s Facebook connection, I really hadn’t. At least I know now how that red dot on my phone tells me how many messages are waiting. I hope that your stalking bot was happy knowing my pedestrian travel habits. I no longer use your service on my phone. Oh, and by the way, after I purged the open phone, desktop and laptop sessions I’d thought were closed when I logged off, my page speed increased considerably.

I’ve never been very happy with Messenger and only installed it because a few people I was in touch with use it constantly. I seriously dislike the fact that I can’t turn it off, so you know where my phone is at all times.

Back in your dark ages I enjoyed keeping up with my friends’ activities. Even before today’s current debate about your role as a media giant, I considered you an enjoyable neighborhood newspaper. You’ve morphed. Now you’re the advertising flyer that sits in the rain puddle next to the front step. Yes, I’ll still try to catch up with my friends – but only on those weeks when I have the time to sort the soggy adverts from the tidbits of real news.

Cut the clutter. Keep my page clean. Keep it simple. Then your ads will not only stand out more, but I might even see them because I’m actually interested in the page’s content. [Since you’re a bit new to the media business, this is how advertising works: Place it in content that draws interested readers and viewers. If people don’t care about your content, they won’t pay attention to the advertising adjacent to it. Eventually they’ll find other content – on other sites – that rewards them and that site’s advertisers.]

If my friend posts their own stuff or takes the time to share something, fine. If they or someone they know simply likes a page, I really don’t have the time to look at messages from retailers or other businesses that are nowhere near me. Your data base already knows where I live, so why show me advertising from businesses several times zones distant?

Mark, if your goal is to make your users more valuable to your advertisers, give us a reason to become more involved – not less caring – with your content.

Have a nice day.


6 Comments on “Why I spend less time on FB these days

  1. How’s Mark suppose to make more billions if everybody took this attitude! (Just kidding.) It’s up to each of us to exercise a little discipline and take control of what we consume; whether traditional or new media. Good for you Jim!

    • Remember when “consumption” used to be the name of a disease?

  2. I am feeling/doing same. The best reason for me to spend time on FB is to be part of people I care about but don’t have the opportunity to go to dinner or spend time with because of distance. Who wants to be on FB with your next door neighbor? I find that none of my kids choose to post my beautiful out of town grandkids. I respect that. It is an invitation for unwanted surveillance. Regarding advertisements..I find myself trying to delete them like an e-mail. get rid of these things. I don’t even want to put a like on something for fear that it will be broadcast. Scaling down. Still love to connect with you though.

    • Trying to delete the ads is an uphill, losing battle. What’s happening, though, is that we’re learning to ignore what’s in front of our face. When there’s too much input – true/false/selling/telling – our brain comes to a screaming halt. It’s a fact of all life, not just politics.

  3. Jim, I am feeling the same way about FB. To me it is becoming more and more a time-suck. Why do I care where you are going, what you are doing, how many times you go to the gym, or where you are going on vacation, etc. And I agree on the fact that people are looking for “Likes” to any post they make, a trap that I have fallen into as well.
    My purpose was to use it to promote knowledge and give people topics, quotes and other knowledge to think about and expand their horizons. But, alas, no one really wants that, or they do not see FB that way.
    If you want to know what I am doing, or care about me, call me, send me an email or even, God forbid, write a letter to me.
    We have become a society more interested in grabbing as many of our “15 minutes” than seeking the knowledge and wisdom that should be used to better ourselves and unify.
    Probably soon, I will do what I did before, which is to take down my page. I get uncomfortable when I have so many “friends” and none want to talk directly to me.
    Thanks for writing this …..

    • Alan, you’re making some excellent points. I’ve tended to see FB as a place for announcing and sharing, rather than conversation – which I think [and hope] occurs through various messaging/texting services, email, and for dinosaurs like us, in person or on the phone. I’ve also noticed that people will comment on something I’ve posted in person, so that even though they haven’t commented or “liked” something, they’re still reading. While I’m not using the medium as much as I have in the past, I’ve found it’s still a decent tool for keeping up with friends and acquaintances from other parts of the planet.

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