I've been thinking a lot lately about how I use social media. I've made some changes on Facebook, and so far, I'm pleased with the results.
This isn't a judgement of how you use social media, and I'm not trying to send any hidden messages about individuals and their status with me. This is just what I've been doing and I share it with the sole hope that it might be useful.
I find that using Facebook is a lot like the concept of Defensive Driving. That's a weirdly harsh term, but it simply means being proactive and taking personal responsibility for what happens. I only have control over what I do, not what others do. If I want a better Social Media experience, or want it to be more useful, it's my problem to solve, not someone else's.
Overhauling My Friends ListI've been looking at my friend list and changing the status of each person based on my relationship with them. If I only know them from work, or I've only met them once, and Facebook isn't being used actively by either one of us to build a relationship, but for some reason I feel some connection is useful, then I make them an acquaintance. This allows me to control which posts they see, so their feed isn't clogged up by any personal posts I might put up. I also don't see much from them unless I go looking for it.
If I can't remember my connection to a person or place them in my real life at all, or if there is just no use of facebook for any active contact from either side, I unfriend them. I don't like that word, but there it is. Not everyone is my friend, and I feel it is a powerful word that has maybe lost some of its power because of FB. Somehow I got up to over 900 friends and I just don't think I know that many people as an actual friend. I also unfriend people if what they post consistently makes me feel stressed, worried, judgemental, mad or any other negative feeling. (Note: The act of unfriending comes after a very subjective qualifying analysis, and includes assessing whether or not they show up in my feed due to other connections, whether I'm seeking them out, whether or not I have other ways of contacting an individual and a certain sense from my gut. Also, since I know that some people are watching for me but they just don't interact a lot, and I get that, I'm not just slashing everybody all willy nilly.)
There are also settings I can check to make sure to I see everything someone posts. I use that primarily for family.
If you come to realize that I unfriended you and yet you still happen to read my blog and you're hurt and confused and want to let me know that I grossly misunderstood our relationship, please take the time to let me know so I can make things right. It's possible I simply hit the wrong button.
Controlling FB Apps and Ads
There are so many apps that many of us accept and install without really understanding what is happening. This happens when we want to play a game, take a quiz, register for a sweepstakes, look at a news story and in many other instances. When I went into my FB settings and went to my list of apps, I found so many that I had no memory of using, installing or giving permission to be in my list, but yet there they were. So, I went through and ruthlessly deleted anything that I couldn't place, wasn't using or didn't sound familiar to me. I'm not 100% sure how this will affect my newsfeed, but I feel better knowing that it's all gone and that a little less of my information is swirling around in the big petri dish of data that is Facebook.
If a company puts an ad in my newsfeed and it's completely irrelevant to me, or I'm just sick of it, I can stop ads from that company. Sure, more ads will show up, but I can keep doing that and have some control over what I see.
Also, if you get a game request from someone, you can now turn off all notifications from that game right in your notifications feed. I feel this is a more effective approach than asking people to stop sending the requests, because often they don't realize they are doing it.
No FB on my Phone
I took the FB app off my phone. That simply makes it harder for me to check FB on my phone. I have to go to the browser and actually log in if I want to use FB on the fly. That's a pain in the neck so I don't often do it. This change has helped me limit how much time I spend browsing my newsfeed, which means I have less of other people's life happenings floating around in my head. This is a good thing. Less information means less stress for me.