Making Reflecting

Re: Facebook

I want to preface this by noting that the irony that Facebook is the largest driver of traffic for my blog is not lost on me. Neither is it lost on me that I have many relationships with people I love dearly that I no longer have contact information for other than Facebook Messenger. And I also want to point out that there is a strong likelihood that you won’t see this post, as posts that are critical of that platform tend to not get seen there.

Social media is fine if you want a place to see pictures of your brother’s kids. It’s fine as a place to find like-minded people (which explains most of the FB groups I belong to) or to learn new skills (which explains the rest of them). But it is always important to remember that the reason social media exists is not to entertain you – it is to make the social media company money. That’s it. The whole reason Facebook exists is to make money, and you don’t factor into their calculations at all. They don’t care that you don’t like the new design. Or the way your timeline shows the same four people, over and over.

It’s become commonplace to blame the algorithms for the lack of diversity and echo chambers, but these algorithms are not Holy Writ, handed down from Mt. Olympus (or Mt. Sinai, if that’s your thing). Rather, they are the result of intentional business decisions, designed to – you guessed it, make the social media company money. If they make you angry – Facebook makes money. If they show you something you disagree with and you go on a ranty – Facebook makes money. If you link to something that makes you happy, they now know more about you, and they can then make more money.

We are not Facebook’s customer: We are their product.

If you are relatively conscious, I have not said anything at all unknown to you. We all trade access for privacy, and while we fuss, most of us stick around. We are in an abusive relationship with this site, and their sins are well known. I’ve talked about this before, but I wanted to elaborate a bit: Facebook is a horrible place to depend on, because it is space you do not own, but only rent, and you rent it from an abusive landlord and you have no protections as a tenant, and you have no lease.

If tomorrow Facebook decided to change the rules, you would have no choice but to take it. Many small businesses got wiped out in the mid-teens when Facebook began charging Business Pages to get views – businesses that had invested years in cultivating a following on Facebook and getting traffic and followers. Overnight, the rules changed.

Or if you have views Facebook decides to restrict. Any post I share that talks heavily about the pandemic will get far fewer views than normal. It just doesn’t get on as many timelines. Who decided that? Facebook.

So, like anyone who rents space, I am ever conscious that I don’t control this space, and I don’t want to make business decisions that depend on this space.

I am a writer. I mean, it’s part of how I make my living. And while I recognize that a lot of people read my writing via Facebook, I am refusing to depend on it. Because I see people all the time who tell me they don’t see my posts on here.

But you know who never says that? Email subscribers.

Email virtually always gets delivered. Email is 100% open. If I left Facebook, I lose all my Facebook friends. I couldn’t port them over to, say, Twitter. But If I quit using Mailchimp and began using ConvertKit to send my emails, it would be seamless. Subscribers would most likely not even know it happened. Because I own my email list – but I’m just renting the Facebook list.

Virtually every creator I know worries about how Facebook gatekeepers our content. I’m making more and more business decisions that take me towards openness, and away from closed platforms. 

I find myself growing more and more frustrated with Social Media platforms. I get angry when I’m on there for any length of time, and the lack of civility and reflection frustrates me. Most days I am on there for only a few minutes to check in or to post something, and then I’m out – which would be great, except for the other days, when I find myself doomscrolling and getting angrier and angrier. I have taken all Social apps off my phone, and have blockers on my browsers so I don’t get on during certain hours while I’m trying to write.

Another thing I don’t like is how it discourages civility. For example, I had two interactions today with people who read my stuff and who disagreed with me: One by email and one on Facebook. The email response was thoughtful and measured, and I responded with a thoughtful and measured reply. The Facebook interaction was a frustrating dumpster fire, and then after I put over an hour in interacting with it, he deleted his post, erasing all the work I did.

As long as it makes sense to keep sharing my blog posts in clear text on my Facebook feed, I will do so as a courtesy to my readers there, as part of my POSSE (Post Own Site, Share Everywhere) strategy. But one day, I fear the juice will no longer be worth the squeeze, and that will change.

So, in preparation for that day, please know that you can also read this blog on the website at HumidityandHope.com, or you can get a weekly email from me with a link to that week’s posts, or you can go to this page and find links to follow me on Twitter or Tumbler or even my blog’s Facebook page where the links are auto-posted or find out how to sign up to get the whole text of the post in your email inbox within minutes of my posting it.

But however and wherever you do it, I’m grateful for your readership, your sharing, and your engagement.

Thank you for reading. This website is free and ad-free because of the support of my readers. Or, if you want to say thanks for this post, you can just buy me a cup of coffee.