Returning to Facebook

by Mike Shea on 8 July 2014

30 Second Summary

After having quit Facebook in 2010 I've decided to return. Whether I like it or not, Facebook is one of the best ways to stay connected with friends and family and that's more important than taking some bullshit stand.

This return to Facebook is an experiment. The hypothesis is that, with the right tools and processes, I can use Facebook to stay connected to my friends and family while avoiding drama and commercialism as much as possible. I'll use Twitter's connection to Facebook to post, the Paper iOS app to read, and I'll make plenty of use of the "unfollow" button when posts make me frown. We'll see how it works out.

Tools and Processes

I plan to interface with Facebook in only two ways, one for input and one for output.

For input, I have activated the feature in Twitter that posts my tweets directly to my Facebook "wall" (whatever the hell that is). Because I post everything in the open on Twitter, I have no false sense of privacy in Facebook. I expect that anyone can see anything I post.

For output, I plan to only use the iOS Paper app on my iPhone about once a day. I will rarely, if ever, use the Facebook website or app directly. Paper has a beautiful interface and, more importantly, it doesn't seem to show the onslaught of machine-generated notifications for Facebook games and apps.

"Friend" and "Follow"

One of the features Facebook didn't have back when I quit is the concept of "follow" and "unfollow". This seems like a small feature but it's a big step. We've all discovered that, even though we love our friends and family, we don't always want to hear what they have to say. There are a lot of hot button topics that just get people fired up with little outcome other than hurt feelings.

Worse, instead of bringing people closer, these hot-button topics split us apart. Here's a quote from a good friend of mine:

"I have noticed that Facebook makes it harder to be friends with people you disagree with."

Now, with the ability to "follow" or "unfollow", we can stay friends without filling our walls and timelines or whatever with negativity and pointless debates.

This means that I'm likely to "friend" lots of people but "follow" only a few. If I want to catch up with someone, I can always go back and poke through their wall.

Connecting to Disconnected Friends

I intend to use Facebook to stay connected to the friends I'm not otherwise connected to online. If I'm already seeing lots of posts from someone on Twitter, I'm not likely to follow them on Facebook. I mainly intend to use Facebook as a way to catch up on the lives of people who primarily post there. That's a small list of maybe a dozen people. I'll "friend" a lot more than that but I may not be listening to most of them.

Controlling the Input

People are free to post whatever they want on Facebook. We shouldn't critisize them for it. Instead, we should only worry about what we choose to receive. This means making liberal use of the "unfollow" button when friends regularly post material that doesn't bring us joy. Likewise, no one has the right or expectation to receive another's attention if that person doesn't want to give it.

My Promise To My "Friends"

I expect I will be posting about one or two posts a day, all of them short since I'm using Twitter. They will likely focus on technology, video games, economics, quantified self nonsense, self help bullshit, vacation photos, dog photos, and other bits of my life. I will avoid talking about politics, religion, and other "hot button" topics for the most part although sometimes it may leak in.

I also won't be talking about Dungeons and Dragons there. All of that gets posted to Sly Flourish and it's related Sly Flourish twitter feed.

If two of my posts ever make you frown please, for love of the burning hot core of the sun, "unfollow" me and get back to being happy.

An Experiment to Better Connect with Friends and Family

My hope is to use Facebook to keep me better connected to my friends and family. This is extremely important to me. That said, this experiment may still end up as a failure if I can't overcome some of the fundamental problems with Facebook. In the mean time, it's time to dive in and have some fun.