Facebook is like a drug. It started off innocent and sweet, and like the beginning of most bad tales the first taste was free. In a short 10 years it went from being a free and unadulterated service to a heavily commercialized data collection center that caters to feeding viral videos, pay-for-play gaming, and advertisements at every click.
In 2013 Facebook even admitted to conducting psychological tests on users by modifying the news feed algorithms so some groups of people received more negative (aka hate-spewing political and racial viral news) items while other received more positive (aka viral cute pet videos and “you won’t believe what happened next” heartstring-tugging clips) and then seeing what effect it had on the users.
When Facebook made its debut to the public, there was no advertising. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Click on the photo to see what Mark Zuckerberg’s page looked like in 2005.
It was a simple service that just allowed users to find each other online, and once connected, see each other’s posts in a very simple manner. The only thing you saw when you logged in was what your friends and family were doing. It was addicting because it took the idea of email and expanded it, and we’d easily lose and hour or so seeing what our friends were up to and trying to find old friends.
Here’s the question to ask yourself today: Of all your daily time spent on Facebook, what are you looking at the most: your friends and family’s posts, or other stuff?
If you are like most people, you now lose several hours each day looking at commercially crafted “viral” videos, quizzes (such as “what’s the color of my aura” or “what Game Of Thrones character are you”, etc) that are actually designed to build a psychological profile of you for advertising purposes, and things that appear to be news items with headlines you just cannot ignore.
This is the dirty downside to rampant commercialism: the main driving factor is how to get more clicks and collect more personal data about the user that can be sold to advertisers, not what’s better for the user. That corporate philosophy has changed Facebook, and every other social media site, into a psychological spiderweb we love to get trapped in. Facebook was originally designed to connect people: now it’s a place full of distractions intentionally crafted to pull each person off into their own direction. We’ve become food for the machine.
I took Facebook off my phone 6 months ago as I found myself sucked onto this cesspool of viral media and realized that it is actually taking time AWAY from my friends and family. After going through withdrawals for 3 weeks, I settled into a routine of checking it only in the evening.
Now that my addiction is past I see it very differently now. Every single item you click on Facebook, including posts from your friends, is used to build a psychological profile of you. While we rant and rave about the government spying on us and taking away our right to privacy, we gleefully let Facebook and Google collect very intimate data on our location, habits, and desires so they can make money from us.
We’ve become cattle belligerently complaining that this fenced pen is too small, yet happily trotting in because the grass looks so green.
Did you know you can download a copy of the data that Facebook has collected on you? Go to settings and then look for the link titled “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Aside from everything you’ve ever posted online, it also contains information on all the ads you’ve responded to, information on the phones you use, your history, location, preferences, and even your facial recognition fingerprint! And we’re giving this away for free.
In 2014, there has been a slow but growing trend of people moving away from Facebook as they seek social networks such as Ello who offer a less commercialized experience.
Today, there is not much left on Facebook for me and I think it’s time to turn my attention back to what I used to do before Facebook demanded my undivided attention: write letters to my family and friends.
So if you are a friend that I like, which is far different from being a Friend that I Like, then you’ll either get an email, phone call, or a personal visit. And if you want to reach me, feel free to drop me an email.