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Jan 22 2016

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Let’s Talk About Facebook

I have quite the love-hate relationship with the social media service Facebook. It’s my primary online way to keep in touch with many people, both close friends and acquaintances in the gaming and convention scenes. It’s also a useful enough service for discussing various subjects I’m interested in (I’m a member of quite a few space related groups) and just keep up with some random events in the lives of friends, or out in the world.

Everything sounds good, right? Shouldn’t be any issues. Oh no, far from it, because when you have enough people together in one area, situations can and will happen, and the internet is no exception to such.

You would think this wouldn’t be a problem, though, since people generally have to “know” each other on Facebook. Sadly, this isn’t the case. In my many many years on the service, I have noticed that like most any situation with enough people, trouble starts; the best way I can describe this is “A good time becomes a very bad time very quickly.”

Let’s take a look at generally how Facebook works, as far as the user is concerned. We are presented with one simple question: “What’s on your mind?”

whats on your mind

That’s it. What’s on your mind. To me, that gives free reign to say whatever you think. Of course, you would want to keep it something tame, something you would naturally want to share, but the point is, it’s a blank slate for you to say whatever you want, about anything.

Now, me? I personally really do post whatever is on my mind at the moment. I do it for those who may be interested in my thoughts on, well, whatever happens. I care about others random thoughts, so I would imagine in being friends they would care about mine. It just makes sense to me.

I don’t expect everyone to completely care about what I have to say, but every post I make has a target audience. While Facebook has features that let you refine the audience for a post, I find it much easier just to have it visible to all my friends.

That being said, what do I post? How do I answer that silly little question of “what’s on your mind?”

The answer? Whatever I want. Sometimes I share what I plan on doing for the day. Sometimes I talk about something I like. Sometimes, and actually quite often I vent about day to day life events that others might relate to, or find amusing. In other cases, I go into deep thoughts. I would say it is a generally healthy mix of things I like, things that are neutral, and things that I don’t like.

Of course, I post photos, share other pages posts, and interact with friends, but for the main content, the content I myself make, that is the width of it all – a broad stroke of emotion and thought. People are friends with me, after all, why wouldn’t they want to know about me, as I would about them?

For many, this isn’t an issue; they really do get it, and enjoy me sharing my view of the world. Others, however, seem to have a problem with this, even while they do the same thing.

Quite often, I’m called “overly negative” which is rather funny considering it most often comes from people who post as equally “negatively” as I do. That, or I’m called this by people who never post anything “organic” (I.E. their own status update) but instead only share posts by other pages, adding no information on their own. Never quite understood why such bothers me, but it is annoying… but I digress….

Let’s explain something about what Facebook does when it shows you a post someone made: While the details are somewhat of a mystery (at least to me) we all know Facebook doesn’t just show you posts – it uses some complex algorithm to determine what to show you. While you can go to a person’s page and see all of their posts, your own “news stream” as it is called is filled with a refined list of posts that the server feels will be interesting to you.

This process should work nice, but generally doesn’t. One thing of note, and of interest for this article, is that Facebook seems to prioritize posts it deems, well.. negative. If you really notice your feed is filled with more negative posts than you would expect, mixed in with page posts, random shares, etc… probably to make those posts seem more attention-worthy, since of course, more activity means more ad views, and more money on their end.

This article isn’t about Facebook’s money making methods, though, but it’s worth mentioning my idea as to why such negativity might be so prominent. In whatever case, the fact remains people accuse me of being oh-so negative, and while yes, I do vent quite a bit about things in my life, the fact remains those are things that have gone on in my life – I share them so people might know why I seem upset, or why I don’t want to do something. Also, having support during the more trying times of life is nice.

I’m not the only person to do this. Far from it. Why them am I seen as the “negative” one? Why is what I post so horrible when compared to what others post?

Because, you know, this is important news. /sarcasm

Because, you know, this is important news. /sarcasm

Let’s look at the very recent situation that spawned this very article: the recent rash of celebrity deaths in January 2016.

I made the kind of post I normally would in such – that which reminded people that death happens all the time. Perhaps my wording was too… shall we say… exotic for one person, as they promptly accused me of being some kind of elitist, thinking I’m somehow better than others for trying to remind people that we pay so much attention to celebrity deaths because the media makes sure we focus on this, sometimes for periods I would consider far beyond the norm. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care, but still, the media hypes such up.

Upon explaining this to the person, and asking them if they had any more issues to take it to messaging, i was told that such would not happen because I’m “always negative” among other complaints that, quite honestly, I couldn’t remember if you paid me since they were so insignificant. There was an unfriending involved, obviously, after this.

Really though? Really. This from a person who does their own share of complaining, much the same as my own posts? Right, sure. Pot and Kettle situation if you ask me.

This isn’t the first time someone has accused me of this, though, and once again it boggles the mind how I can be seen as so damned negative, when I’m not the one sharing every bit of bad news online. I’m not the one sharing every celebrity death, every bit of war news, or some other political junk constantly.

No, I’m somehow the “always negative” for sharing original thoughts – for having my own opinions – for being who I am and being honest with life as I see it sometimes.

Perhaps it would be better if I did what some people do and virtually never post, or if I did, only share things that won’t upset anyone in the slightest. Would that be better? Maybe, but then, would that at all be me? Is not the point of social media to express ones personal opinions? Why suddenly say that someone cannot do such? Why limit what people share?

Hell, it isn’t just me being “negative” that is such an issue sometimes. In the case of socio-political opinions, such as, let’s say, presidential candidates, I’ve made my opinions known, only to be reprimanded for sharing my opinion. Really? It’s somehow okay for you to share your insane ramblings, or to support someone who is demonstrably racist, but it’s not okay for me to call such out? I’m not even kidding, some people have gotten offended to a level akin to that of someone attacking a member of their family, and that just does not make sense to me, at all – last I checked these people were not related to you, and weren’t that critical to your day to day life… at least I would hope they aren’t.

Anyway, back on the subject at hand, I made a post about this incident after it happened, basically explaining this in more concise terms. I had another friend comment on it with the best possible explanation on the entire thing. To sum him up, as I understood him, He felt that Facebook did indeed show more negativity, and that it is up to other people to either read or ignore such at their own discretion. He did say though an interesting note that I am quite blunt and direct in what I have to say, which is very true: Hell, I take pride in the fact I can be so blunt in what I say, because while I am incredibly verbose, I do get the point out there.

While this didn’t directly address my constant “negativity”, I think there was a point made about such – the fact that since I am so blunt, some people might view that rather hardly, and associate it with the negative feeling they have. This is me reading into what was said, though, and I don’t speak for the friend who made the original comment, which is lost to time, as I’ll soon explain.

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Ah, this very direct nature of mine that I adore.. it means I say my mind. It also means my feed history is absolutely full of every thought I have had over, oh, the past 8 years, maybe? This includes history with people whom I just don’t want to be reminded of… but Facebook certainly wants to remind me!

Ah, the built-in “On This Day” feature, which shows you what you said, or did, back on this day in previous years. It can remind you of some fun things, some interesting events you forgot, or of things you wouldn’t want to be reminded of. People, events, places or things sometimes, who knows… it doesn’t matter; the fact remains you might not want to have to see such, and while there are ways to block such in the feature, it still requires you to go out of your way to enable, and unless you can, Ironically, remember all of the keywords for things you would want to forget, what’s the point?

With all of this adding up, the past week I contemplated just leaving the site all together. The problem is what I mentioned at the beginning – how it is the best, and in some cases, only way to contact some people. It also proves to be one of the most efficient ways to communicate in varying communities I am in, and has basically become a necessary evil in my life. I couldn’t stand keeping the old account around anymore, and I wanted to do a massive clean up on what my page had, anyway – so many old pages liked, ancient posts, and what have you that I just wanted erased as best they could be.

That all being said, I went on and made a new account, with plans to migrate all of the pages, groups and apps I manage over to this new account, re-add the majority of people whom I had on the old account, but  to otherwise start from scratch.

I was quite surprised to see within the first few minutes of me setting up the new account I already had dozens of my friends adding me, and things starting to look normal on this new account. After just under a week, which included me getting quite sick with a 48 hour flu, I deleted the old one, making absolutely sure that everything was converted over to the new one: if people who haven’t added me on the new one wanted to get a hold of me, they knew how to find me.

Much akin to spring cleaning, this was something that needed to be done. I am moderating what I post on Facebook, so as not to magically offend someone with something topical. I’m also not likely to comment much on anything, anymore, as once again, my honesty on my opinion might somehow upset someone.

Is this self censorship worth it? Maybe yes, maybe no, this is one of those classic “only time will tell” kind of events. However, I still think this is something that was overdue. I’m also going to have to maybe hold back on who I add from the convention / gaming scene, as it seems those scenes provide some of the most easily-offended people. Then again, others have become some of my best friends, so it’s a mixed bag.

I guess I’m just going to have to continue to play things by ear, but a clean start is always a good thing.

…and that is all I have to say about that. If anything else comes up on Facebook, I’ll just direct people to this exceedingly long post, then offend them with one more “negative” thought, probably telling them where they can cram their opinion, then end that connection.

I’m a grown ass adult. If I want to say something, I’m going to say it.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.xadara.com/lets-talk-about-facebook/

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