For Your Consideration

For Your Consideration

Brokeback Facebook: I wish I knew how to quit you!

Thom is inspired by the proliferation of viral inane questions to reevaluate his social media use

Oh, Facebook, how I wish I could quit thee.

If you’re like me, you have a love-hate relationship with the ubiquitous social media platform. Rarely a week goes by when I don’t think about deleting my account.

What set me off most recently was these annoying new random questions that seem to be clogging up at least half my newsfeed.

In researching the subject I did not have t0 scroll far to find four examples.

“Who tf is actually left-handed?”

“Name an older TV show today’s kids have probably never heard of.”

“Bet you can’t name a fish with the letter ‘a’ in it.”

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“Congratulations friends! You just won a lifetime supply of the last thing you bought. What do you have?”

The insidious thing about these inane games is they look like they’re coming from your friends. The first thing you see is: Name of friend(s) commented.

I even fell for it a couple of times before I realized what was going on. It’s kind of fun, after all, to see how your friends answer some of these and to answer them yourself if, in fact, they were coming from your friends; it is social media after all.

But they’re not coming from your friends. I quickly realized they were posts with hundreds of thousands or even millions of responses.

There’s nothing social about that.

This, of course, is just the latest evolution of the quagmire of ludicrousness that Facebook has become.

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What I don’t get is the motivation behind these posts. Have the pages somehow managed to monetize responses or is it just straight-up narcissism, as in ‘oh look, I managed (with the help of Facebook’s algorithms) to sucker 1.1 million people into answering my stupid question or statement.’

I haven’t found a good explanation, but it is out of control.

If you’re one of the people answering these things, please stop.

On the plus side, it has inspired me to drastically cut back on scrolling my newsfeed. Between this nonsense and the ads, it’s only about every 10th post that is even remotely relevant and or interesting to me.

Now when I see one of these, I click the dropdown menu on the top right of the post and block the originating page.

They have also inspired me to go through all my settings for the first time in a long time. I was amazed at what I found. Of course, Facebook is always tinkering and there are a couple of (relatively, as in I didn’t know about them) new features.

One is that you can now control what information advertisers can use to target you.

That is another thing that is kind of unnerving, the interconnectedness of internet platforms. For example, the other day I started searching (on Google, not on Facebook) for golf clubs. Even though my irons are only about 25 years old, I thought maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

The next day, I was inundated with golf ads on Facebook. It’s a little (shades of Minority Report) creepy.

As the old saying goes: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.”

In any event, you can’t reduce the number of ads you see on the platform, but you can control how relevant they are and for me, the less relevant the better.

If you haven’t gone through your settings for a while, it’s well worth a revisit, although I warn you, it took me a couple of hours.

I can’t (or don’t really want to) quit Facebook altogether for various reasons, but how, why, for what and for how long I use it is a constantly evolving proposition.

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