Recently I decided to take an extended break from Facebook. Why? Many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Facebook can very often be an extreme time waster. I know many of us have taken breaks, extended or otherwise, from time to time for this and many other reasons.
I began my foray into social media with my first blog, A Journey, in 2009. This is where I started to share my story and my journey from where I’d been to where I wanted to be.
Sometime after that I discovered twitter and I started hearing from people around the world that by sharing my journey – it made theirs a little easier.
Micro blogging on twitter became my “thing” along with my regular posts at A Journey.
Then there came podcasting at Blog Talk Radio. I guest hosted for Michele Rosenthal for a year then branched off to do my own show, Empowering Solutions.
Over the time I did this podcast, often with friend and cohort Amy Eden of Guess What Normal Is, I heard again from legions of you who found the podcasts to be supportive of your journey.
But then I found Facebook. I was a holdout, I have to admit. I did not like the learning curve that came with new technology and in 2010/2011 Facebook was still relatively new – not “everyone” was on it just yet.
As I shifted my attention from blogging the way I connected with others changed. Facebook had become my primary means of connection while blogging, podcasting and twitter faded into the background for me.
And what happened is that as I got into Facebook I again heard from great numbers of readers/followers that the things I shared was making a difference in their lives. Discussions were rich and deep every day. So I expanded and added a Facebook “Fan Page”.
This Fan Page took off. First dozens of fans followed and engaged with this page. Then hundreds. When the page hit 1000 fans I was ecstatic! The comments and emails I was receiving told me that people’s lives were being impacted and improved by continuing to share the truths that had set me free.
But then Facebook got bigger. Facebook began to morph and change from being a place where people connected, where each day I would see those from around the world whom I had come to know, support and care about to a place where algorithms ruled the newsfeed and Fan Pages were no longer even seen in the newsfeed unless page owners paid hefty fee’s to “promote”.
Seemingly overnight, this community that had formed, was gone. People I had seen daily, I no longer saw in my newsfeed at all. Engagement in all areas, including the once active Fan Page, just seemed to stop. Recently I even noticed that things I posted on my own profile page would appear then disappear then appear again.
There was no longer any consistency or seeming rhyme or reason to understand how Facebook functioned. Facebook was now deciding FOR US what we would see or not see. Those who could pay big bucks could get their pages seen. Those who could not – couldn’t.
Facebook was no longer a “social” media hub but had become a manipulator of information driven by profit from advertisers. It became more and more difficult to stay in touch with those I’d connected with around the world.
And we, the people, had stopped engaging. At least in the way I remember from earlier days of social media where the media was “social” and people engaged with one another.
Twitter had changed too. It was no longer a place to engage with others but where I would see my news stream filled with the same: links full of marketing, offers for this program or that program.
Like its grandfather, television, Social Media had become the newest, latest and greatest way to avoid life and relationships for many of us.
In time the “like” button seemed to replace commenting. And “sharing” became automated, removing the need to actively think about what we are doing. As the discussions stopped, we started “Liking” and “Sharing” more and more. Our news feeds had changed.
We had stopped connecting. We had stopped engaging.
A while back there was a meme going on about not using the “like” button.
As an experiment I decided to “not like” anything for a week. Instead I made a point to comment on others posts.
And what I discovered is that by doing so, this limited my active network. It also made me realize that the sheer numbers of posts that were coming through my stream made it impossible for me to actually engage with very many people.
The other thing I noticed is those whose posts I would comment on – did not comment back but rather they would “like” my comment – or maybe there would be no acknowledgment at all.
With social media, and perhaps just an unhealthy and unhappy society in general, we seem to have lost the basics of social engagement.
In addition, social media seems to make it really easy for those who are angry to lash out at others without the same fear of consequence as in real time life. In the years I’ve been online I’ve dealt with my fare share of trolls and haters so am accustomed to dealing with those who for whatever reason find pleasure in attacking and criticizing others. But when this becomes more common than that positive engagement that makes being on social media enjoyable? It’s time to take a look at what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and where I’m doing it.
So, I’ve taken a break from Facebook.
I’m also heading for surgery next week (thank you to those of you who have helped me to get there!).
And I’m just really feeling drawn to get back to the basics.
Writing now and then here at the blog as my health allows, sharing my links via social media on twitter and Facebook for those still using those platforms, writing those books you’ve been asking for for years. 🙂
And hopefully offering a space here where we might be able to start rebuilding the community we once knew.
Namaste. I see the light in you because it is the light in me.
May your path be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.
PS…What’s your experience been with social media? All good? Some not so good?