Facebook “Friends”

It has been about one week since I decided to quit using Facebook. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about the platform in that time. This will probably be an incoherent rambling, but writing feels good. So here we go.

One of the first things I did after quitting was remove the bookmark from my browser and the shortcut from my phone’s home screen. I knew it would be hard to break the habit of visiting Facebook every time I’m bored, but I underestimated how ingrained that action had become. Facebook was one of 5 or 6 websites that I visit when I’m bored. Removing one from the mix made me realize how much of it is basically muscle memory. I’ve trained my brain to fill every second of downtime with websites. This isn’t a new discovery by any means. I think it’s something a lot of us have to deal with.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the term “Facebook Friend.” Looking back, the interactions I see on Facebook don’t look anything like the interactions between real friends. When you become “friends” with someone, you are essentially giving Facebook permission to spy on them on your behalf. Most of the stuff in my News Feed was “John Doe likes this” or “Jane Doe commented on this.” Why do I care if a friend likes an article from a website I don’t follow? Why do I care if a friend comments on a post from someone I’m not friends with?

I think Instagram is the best social network in this regard. Almost everything you see on Instagram is an original post (if you stay away from the shitty meme accounts). There isn’t an easy way to re-share posts to your account, and the stuff your friends “like” doesn’t show up in your feed. This means the main feed is reserved for only the stuff your friends have uploaded. That’s what I actually want to see on Facebook. Just the status updates and photos from my friends.

It’s been about one week since I scrolled through my News Feed, but I did re-activate my account for the purpose of Facebook Groups. Deactivating it helped me break the routine of checking it every 30 minutes. Now that I’m past that stage, I can safely say I don’t feel the need to check up on things. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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