I just unfollowed almost every page on Facebook. You should join me
Facebook is making me stupid. I’m sure of it.
Not traditionally stupid, like not knowing what 2+2 equals or being Donald Trump. But the kind of frantic stupidity that comes from information overload and a remix of non-news news stories churned up daily from the dank depths of the Internet.
Stupid videos of Russian dashboard cameras. Stupid top 10 lists. Stupid food blogs. Stupid cute cat pics. Stupid Kardashian Instagram photos. Stupid me.
On my Newsfeed. All day. It’s exhausting.
But why do I have this problem?
- I’m social media manager for a news website. This means my job requires me to be on the Internet almost 24/7.
- I’m super nosy. I always have been, and that’s probably why I chose a career in the media. Not knowing current events or what’s popular on the Internet just drives me crazy.
- I’m also a Millennial. This makes me an inherently evil, narcissistic garbage person that must constantly consume information to get my daily doses of dopamine.
I’ve noticed myself getting worse and worse for the past couple of years. My attention span has shrunk, and my short term memory is horrible. Hell, I even routinely forget how to spell basic words.
So when 2016 came around and it was time for New Year’s resolutions, I had a crazy thought.
Why not just fuck it all?
The problem with the Facebook Newsfeed is that media publications are in an arms race with each other, and consumers are losing.
As Andrew Golis explained, money and influence can sway the Facebook algorithm, leaving it completely saturated by a few pages. And every publisher is doing it—trying to scam the system so your eyeballs are on their content.
And while some of the publishers, some of the time, were able to expand their output without sacrificing quality, many of them, much of the time, weren’t. (In fact, the savviest publishers realize that the cheapest way to produce more is to repackage the work of others.) So the quality of the average thing in your feed is getting worse.
Golis presents this problem and suggests implementing a one story per publisher model on Facebook. While this is certainly a lofty goal, it’s just simply never going to happen. Facebook wants to make money. Publishers want to make money. They can’t make enough money on the chance that you’ll stumble upon their one story per day.
But consumers have one very simple thing they can do. Unlike pages.
I’ve slowly whittled down the number of Facebook pages I like that produce content from 85 to 6.
Actually 7 counting the publication I currently work for, but obviously I couldn’t (and never would) unlike that page.
And I can tell you one thing for certain: It feels great. Like, really great.
It wasn’t that difficult when I first started unliking pages. College and regional publications were the first to go. I was more than excited to unlike BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed Video, which seemed like they had hijacked my Newsfeed years ago. But then things got tricky.
The Wall Street Journal, LA Times, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, USA Today—didn’t I need to like these pages? Wouldn’t I miss out on important stories and be left behind?
While these publications do some great work, in the world of Facebook nearly every other person is covering the same story. I was tired of seeing the same thing repackaged 25 different ways. I sat down and chose six publications that were diverse and could keep me informed.
I now follow The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times, Mashable, AJ+ and The Texas Tribune. (And of course Grist.)
Some changes to my NewsFeed were immediately noticed. More status updates from my friends were showing up, and the ratio of news content to friend content was refreshing. Facebook was doing what it should do—putting MY needs above the needs of publishers.
I still feel informed about what’s going on in the world and on the Internet. Plus, I feel my focus and anxiety problems starting to disappear.
So I challenge you to do the same! Pick only six publishers to follow on Facebook.
Unlike all of the rest, and your Newsfeed will thank you for it.