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Is Deinfluencing a sign of the times?

Is Deinfluencing a sign of the times?

In the post-pandemic world as we careen towards a recession, it only makes sense that social media would pivot to a more gentle marketing. In an attempt to gain back some social credit, influencers are now turning to Deinfluencing.

Check out the crabs in the bucket

Check out the crabs in the bucket

A couple of years ago a man in Toronto with a professional job bought a house. Of course, this story plays out across the country every day: many people buy and sell houses all of the time. But Sean Cooper not only bought a house but he also had the nerve to rent out his top floor and live in the basement, work three jobs and ride a bicycle everywhere in order to pay off his mortgage in three years. Naturally, the internet’s reaction was swift: how dare he.

I subsequently read Sean Cooper’s book about his experience …and discovered nothing of note. Basically his plan was simple: be young, single, child free, able-bodied, know how to live frugally, have a high paying career, be able to give up what makes life worth living and have enough energy to work multiple jobs. It’s hardly rocket surgery. Obviously, not everyone is able to tick off all of these boxes on the “pay off house quickly” list. Few of us – if we’re honest – are able to do more than a couple of things that he did, let alone all of them. But outliers make for great copy so he soon found himself clenching onto his 15 minutes of fame in his paid-off house.

An (ex) friend of mine wrote a particularly scathing commentary about the article denouncing him. In fact, many people did including this particularly vitriolic piece in Slate. When I asked my friend why he cared what other people did, his response was that if everyone did this than capitalism would expect us all to do this! I didn’t think that was true but I let it go. What I find hilarious is that in retrospect, when all this was going down we were in one of the largest Bull Markets in history. For most people, life had never been better: interest rates were low, equities high and compared to today real estate was way more affordable. In fact, reading that Slate article as we claw our way out of a global pandemic feels almost quaint.

Here is the rub though: I think that Slate article is bang on. Individual actions not structural inequalities drive our morality when it comes to money and it shouldn’t. Yes, absolutely I would love to see some real change, some real support for people who are struggling. But let’s also be realistic: only people who are like Sean Cooper in every way have the ability to do what Sean Cooper did. But only them. Being angry at Sean Cooper for his accomplishments is like being angry at David Beckham for being better than you at football.

The real issue is that we are extrapolating his very constricted set of circumstances and trying to apply them widely. Clearly, a single parent of two children in an expensive city with a minimum wage job is not going to be able to pull this off and no one is saying that this is what they should aspire to. Similarly, I – as a middle-aged disabled woman – will never be a famous footballer. That’s why it got any press at all: he accomplished something only available to a select few people. Cooper was featured because he deviated from the norm and deviation from the norm gets eyeballs on your news pieces which in turn generates advert dollars. That’s all. But even if we can’t apply every single idea into our lives there is still a lot of value to see people doing things differently. We can extrapolate a few ideas instead. Maybe someone reading that article will realize that they rarely use their car and that they can give it up and instead buy themselves the model railroad they’ve always wanted. Who knows?

A couple of weeks ago, I watched Marie Kondo get raked against the coals for daring to say that she isn’t as tidy anymore now that she has three kids. No duh. Of course, the internet jumped all over this. The same thing happened when her book (and subsequent Netflix show) came out. My facebook lit up like a Christmas tree at the fact that she only had fifteen books. “JUST FIFTEEN!” people lamented, “That’s bullshit! I could never live like that!” But she never claimed that everyone needed to have a maximum of fifteen books. She stated that fifteen books was the right amount of books FOR HER. If rooms full of books “spark joy” for you, then her perspective was: you do you. The catch was that you needed to actually watch the shows and/or read the book to know that she wasn’t insistent on just 15 books. Instead people succumbed to internet outrage and social media soundbites. But her recent decision that tidying was a lower priority for her now that she had three children set the trolls ablaze. “AHA! was the collective response to the news, “clearly it was all bullshit!”. Really though, her choice not to prioritize tidying over time with her small children in no way means her system doesn’t work. It just means that right now spending time with her kids “sparks joy” more than a tidy house does.

Finally, this week I was unsurprised to watch the trolls come out in full force when I read the comments about this Vancouver couple. While some of the comments are cruel, some of them are just nonsense. “Well she isn’t retired now, is she?” Well maybe she doesn’t want to retire yet. “There is no way they can retire on 800k.” Had they used the BTSX strategy, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation pegs the dividends at over $40000/pa. “They won’t be able to travel on that kind of income.” Geographic Arbitrage is cheaper than living in Vancouver full time, for sure.

Unfortunately, a lot of online interaction leads itself to Crab Bucket mentality: because I can’t have it, I’m going to drag you down. Like the metaphorical crab who sees another crab escaping & stops them, people in similar circumstances who won’t do the work end up in comment sections dragging the people in the article down. Their goal is to shame people who do things differently and hope that other people agree with them. Groupthink is incredibly powerful and the message is, “if I can’t have it, you shouldn’t either!” We love watching successful people get dragged in what the Australians/New Zealanders call Tall Poppy Syndrome.

People are completely missing the point of all three of these examples. They’re just ideas, tools and goals that these individuals used to give themselves options. Maybe their lifestyle isn’t for everyone but SURELY they have to have some insight that we can potentially apply to our own lives? Also, we make the assumption that we are the audience for every article when clearly we are not. These articles have value because there are people out there who don’t know that they can pay off the mortgage early, or that there are better ways of folding t-shirts or that a high savings rate is achievable for mid-income folks with a few short cuts. But smart people realize that there are nuggets of wisdom everywhere so they take what they can from a resource and leave the rest. I see this a lot in popular personal books (PF) that are written for an audience outside of the author’s country. Inevitably there is always a review that says, “ONE STAR: this doesn’t apply to me because I don’t live in that country. You need to write one about my country.” But I’ve read personal finance books from all over the world and inevitably I take some gems out of all them. Most PF books are US-based but I just swap the terms for Canadian versions, IRA to RRSP for example. I don’t need to be spoon fed every single detail about my particular situation, I can just apply the larger idea to my own life by adjusting it.

The reality is that no matter how often you get angry that your house isn’t tidy enough, or it’s not getting paid off as quickly as you’d like, or you feel stuck in your life with your finances awry, no number of negative comments you post will change that. Sure, you may get a little shot of dopamine when someone agrees with you or you can get jacked up on the arguments with the people who don’t agree with you but it adds zero value to your life. You would be better off taking notes or figuring out who else is achieving the goals you’d like to achieve and reading their books or blogs.

I didn’t pay off my house in 3 years, it’s an absolute tidiness disaster with two kids and two dogs and I certainly don’t have close to $700000 in investments. I am still grateful for these people who’ve given us a window into their lives. The value in reading these stories is not making a carbon copy and applying it to your life, its value comes from seeing that maybe you could try and do things differently and that it could be life-changing. When you have applied some of these tips and tricks the value becomes one of seeing that you aren’t alone – other people are doing it to!

So I encourage everyone to get out of the metaphorical crab bucket. Glean the wisdom that may be helpful to your life and focus on how you can make your situation better. It’s much better time spent.

Dropshipping, advertisements and making a less user-hostile internet

Dropshipping, advertisements and making a less user-hostile internet

Being post-Yule like we are, I can’t help but see “Le Tits Now” on these dropship garbage products

When I started this blog I made the decision to not put advertisements or links where I get kickbacks. In part, this was because it’s a lot of work and I would then feel obligated to post on a schedule like it was my job. But this blog isn’t my job, it’s a passion project. It’s also a lot of work to manage SEO and income streams and engage with people all day. Since leaving my job IN social media, I didn’t want to make my hobby my job. I also had seen how the online world was already infringing into my daily life so the goal was to pare back, not lean in.

In the early aughts when livejournal was still a thing but no real social media company had broken through, you would only see banner ads sporadically. I remember when a webcomic I used to follow started offering a banner ad at the top of the daily comic. The ads back then made sense because it was individual companies and artists buying the space. The ads were typically relevant because they were audience-based: a real person had to enjoy the website and pay to advertise with the owner. But google changed all of that and now every site has banners in every corner, above, below & in the middle of the page. Often, sizing becomes a problem because the ads pop-up, close and resize whenever they flip to a new one (don’t get me started on auto-play videos!). It makes reading most websites almost impossible as it’s two sentences, a video, two sentences, an expanding banner etc. Unless you have a robust ad blocker installed and use the reader (provided it hasn’t been disabled) most blogs and websites are so user-hostile that I’ve given up on them completely. Even using an RSS like Feedly has become difficult because often you have to click through.

This is, of course, because I am old and because I was an early adopter of the internet (relatively speaking). When I discovered the online world in 1993 I had so much hope for the future. It was dubbed, “the information superhighway” for a reason and it promised a future of connectedness and free information. We were so hopeful! Granted, I was still technically a teenager but it was such a great place to interact, share opinions and learn new things. I guess we underestimated how pervasive businesses would be at leveraging the open source world and our desire to connect into surveillance capitalism. Now we have become the product and they use myriad shifty psychological tactics to keep our eyeballs online and keep those ad dollars rolling in.

One of the reasons I have been so successful at quitting social media is because it reached a point where the value I was getting out of sites like facebook had tipped over into being too much effort for the time I was putting in. I don’t even bother checking my main feed now: I just go directly to the community groups or pages I want to read. The algorithm’s attempt to only show me my notifications sporadically so that I keep checking back often has caused me to completely check out. There are too many ads and too many repeat showings of the same posts. It is effectively so useless to me that I can go on once a day and not go back until the next day – I used to spend hours on there!

Don’t get me wrong: I am not upset that individual people want to get paid for the time and effort that they put into running a blog or website. It just needs to be balanced with being user-friendly. But let’s also be honest: a lot of websites and blogs now offer courses and consulting and other products that you can buy. While I don’t begrudge people selling their expertise, I wonder how much expertise they really have. I can think of a handful of people I know who sell their services as life or job coaches – one of whom became a job coach after losing their own job when they couldn’t find another! In the world of flexes, that is a blue ribbon contender. Caveat Emptor.

Truth be told: we did it to ourselves. We engaged with the internet with the expectation that everything could be free forever but in reality someone had to pay the bills. We didn’t want to pay a yearly fee to use a blog service or pay for servers so we agreed to give our attention up to advertisers and secretly use ad blockers. So now it’s another layer of complexity as we play a cat-and-mouse game of disabling ad features with updates and updating our ad blockers to disable those features.

I actually love Patreon for this because often you can get basic content for free and then pay for special extras, or if you really like the content, you can subscribe. If you don’t want to sign up, you can also make a small one-time donation. This makes objective sense to me instead of pushing potential readers away with a website that looks like space invaders meets google adsense. I find myself more often signing up for various Patreon newsletters or prioritizing blogs that are more about sharing and engaging than making a quick buck. In fact, I’d say that the more ads on a site, the more useless the information is. Like the experiments done with monkeys doing drawings for rewards: the quality goes down when you get rewarded for quantity over quality.

To be sure, algorithms on social media sites favour quantity over quality and I’ve often seen small businesses complain that their context gets shadowbanned if they don’t, say, produce enough reels for Instagram or get enough likes, saves and shares. It is a ridiculous world we live in when we sign up for content on social media sites but don’t get that content served up to punish creators for not producing enough of, or the “right” content. Social media is addicted to mediocrity as long as enough content is posted, the quality seems to be irrelevant.

But let’s also take a step back and question the quality of the ads we’re also getting on sites and social media. Often, it’s dropshippers who are paying for these ads and as you can see from the images on this post: it’s absolute insanity how many of these garbage businesses there are out there selling the same product as unique to them. Drop shipping has become a get-rich-quick-scheme in recent years promoted as a work-from-anywhere business that appeals to people who want to be Digital Nomads. Unfortunately, most of the money to be made has already been made and the only real cash being made now is from websites offering courses and seminars on how to get into dropshipping. The market clearly is saturated, judging by the images in this post of ads I’ve been served from Instagram this past month.

Sadly, it’s often stolen ideas from actual artists who are selling on websites like Etsy who have their work copied & reproduced without credit or compensation. I have made it a point to never, ever buy anything from an ad that gets served up to me via social media. The reason for this is that I recently had a run-in with a company that looked legit and so I went ahead and bought two products from them as gifts. To make it short and sweet, the following happened:

1 – I was charged more than the invoice stated
2 – I was charged in a different currency than the invoice stated
3 – The name of the company was completely different when it came up in my credit card transactions
4 – I canceled the order within one hour of placing it and within the TOS cancellation guidelines
5 – They replied after I canceled in incredibly broken English and told me to accept the product anyway and if I wanted to return it, I could return it
6 – I did a chargeback on my credit card after they refused to cancel
7 – The product was supposed to ship through the UK but shipped from China via the US
8 – I received the product and it was incredibly low quality (think: dollar store)
9 – Seller refunded my money after the credit card company engaged them

Dropshipping is technically not illegal but copyright theft is. Because the original owners are usually small artists and the products are being mass made in countries with lax copyright laws, it’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole. It doesn’t help that websites like Etsy also don’t give a crap about dropshippers using their platform, either. They get their cut. Just go to Etsy and search for any item you’ve seen in an ad lately on social media and a plethora of results will appear. For example, go to Etsy and search for “6 bird pun coasters” and you will find a bunch of options at varying price points for the images featured in this post. Isn’t Etsy supposed to be for original artists and craftspeople? What gives with all of the duplicates? But this isn’t a surprise to most people who use Etsy. Since replacing the CEO and laying off staff in 2017 the general consensus is that it has also become hostile to the creators and customers it serves.

It feels like everything is a race to the bottom these days. Let’s not forget that even amazon itself is copying products and then rigging the results so that only their brands come up in searches. The way the algorithms on amazon are also obfuscating the fact that search results are indeed paid ads for certain companies has led to consumers losing confidence in the platform. I will shop ANYWHERE but amazon if I can because it’s impossible to determine if a company is really who they say they are. To not pick on Amazon either, many companies from Walmart to Best Buy have allowed 3rd party resellers on their site who sell absolute junk at bargain prices that often isn’t even what was described in the ad. Most of these are dropshippers who hope that the average consumer won’t fight back about a small purchase. Get enough people to do this and you have a pretty profitable business built on people’s unwillingness to fight over a $20 product they have to send back by paying $10 in shipping to return it.

I think I just want to try and carve out my own little niche on the internet the best way I can. I know that I will never be free from online advertising, google’s web crawling and algorithms but I also know that I don’t have to encourage it either. I find I trust information and websites more if they aren’t inundated with ads and things they are trying to sell. I didn’t want my personal blog to turn into I RETIRED AT 43 – ASK ME HOW! Besides, the real answer is: have a really good disability plan at your work and get a motor neuron disease. That may not be the solution people will want to hear if I sold them a course or a consulting session.

Post-pandemic I am really trying to shop at brick and mortar stores or purchase directly from the artists instead of 3rd party websites like Etsy. Sure, you may not be able to divest yourself 100% from these platforms – heck, I had a friend amazon prime me a scooter charger to Puerto Rico! I drove around the island and couldn’t find one but I needed to charge my mobility scooter to get home. I feel absolutely zero shame about making that purchase. But trying to make the world a less hostile, jarring place is never a bad thing. So some day I may put one of those “buy me a coffee” buttons on this site. Maybe not. But I do know that I like the peace of an ad-free website and since I only have control over the one wee corner of the web that I can control, it remains ad free. I hope you enjoy it too.

Attention & focus

Attention & focus

I just finished Ultralearning by Scott Young and if there is one thing I realized from reading that book, it’s that I completely lack the ability to focus. Over the past few months I have been weaning myself off of social media and other time-sucking apps in order to concentrate more fully on high-focus activities. While I am still not there 100% yet, I have managed to figure out what some of my triggers are and negate them.

Here are some of the things that have given me back more time:

I realized that by commenting and posting it kept me in the cycle of checking these sites more often than I like to. So I basically allow myself to keep up with people by checking social media in the mornings but I rarely comment and even more rarely post. I would say that my social media use has gone down exponentially by just getting me off the hamster wheel of discussions.

When I do comment, I then turn off all notifications. I found myself getting dragged into discussions I didn’t want to be in so I just turned off the notifications. Unless someone tags me by name, I won’t see it.

I have uninstalled all the apps that don’t need to be on my phone. No more defaulting to opening the facebook app (my true weakness) because I don’t have it on my phone anymore. It goes without saying that I also am not logged into the web browser.

I have push notifications completely turned off for all apps. The only notifications I get are for text messages and phone calls. Since I mostly use Signal with friends and for group chats, the only texts/calls I really get are from family.

If I am doing a high-concentration activity like reading, I put my phone out of reach. My instinct is to reach for my phone whenever I feel stuck/anxious/bored so this way I can’t do that on autopilot.

I keep a small moleskin notebook handy for when I want to look something up but have put my phone out of reach. I can write down what I want to look up and then do it later after I am done my session.

I have my phone on sleep mode from 9:30pm until 7am. My Signal group chats don’t notify me but they do show up on my lockscreen. During these night hours they don’t even show up there.

I give myself 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night to check social media. While I may not always hit this mark, I have lowered by usage by leaps and bounds compared to just last year where I was logging about 2 hours a day.

Having ADHD working in social media was a bit of a blessing and a curse: while my brain worked really well at those highly frantic frequencies & I was able to parse a lot of info from a lot of sources, the tradeoff was losing what ability I had to focus long-term. While I think ADHD is definitely a brain issue and that people really do have attention issues, I also think our society of pings, dings, and vibrations are causing attention issues in people who may not have manifested them a mere 15 years ago.

We’re constantly inundated by things vying for our attention whether it is social media & notifications or messaging systems and email at work. These constant hits of dopamine and distraction I think will have real long term affects on our ability to really hone in on issues to solve problems at work and in our personal lives. I think doing our best to turn off as many of these distractions as possible will be good for us long term, as people who are calmer and less anxious and as workers who can affectively solve problems by deep diving into them without distraction.

Algorithms, performance, and on changing the world

Algorithms, performance, and on changing the world

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Capy’s back ❤️

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I’m sick and tired of our generation being called the TV generation. What do you expect? We watched Lee Harvey Oswald get his brains blown out all over. How could we change the channel after that? – Dennis Leary

When Andrew Scheer criticized the government’s handling of the pandemic it was, of course, easy for him. He had the luxury of waiting for the fallout of the programs the Liberals were forced to roll out quickly and he could wait until he could his two cents. Once the smoke cleared and the gaping holes in the programs designed to support Canadians appeared, it was easy to point them out. To be honest, that’s also his role as Leader of the Opposition: to play the flipside of the coin, critique decisions made, and to suggest other things to help the country to get back on its feet.

This is not to blame any party: had the Conservatives been in power, the opposite would also be true. We often forget that the Opposition’s job is to basically OPPOSE the government’s decisions. In fact, everyone was doing their jobs in the roles they had been given.

By the beginning of June with the lockdown in full swing, the hybrid schooling my kids were doing was draining me of all the energy I had. Of course, the older laptop they shared died a spectacular death in April, which meant both of the personal laptops the adults owned were recommissioned to tackle the insufferable, non-intuitive Google Classroom GUI and multiple meetings the teachers had set up. On top of that was a plethora of Zoom meetings for their extracurricular activities & friend hangouts. Sprout – the youngest – needed particular attention to keep her focused, often up to 6 hours a day. I basically just gave up on interacting online with my friends via Social Media and instead turned to binge watching pablum tv when I wasn’t helping the kids. I kissed my online relationships goodbye temporarily (I don’t keep facebook on my phone) and moved most of my interpersonal connections to text or Signal group chats.

Of course, I realized the less I engaged the more desperate the algorithm became as it tried to keep me on the platform. I usually went on facebook once or twice a day just to check my community groups (one because I admin it, one because it’s the neighbourhood group). The odd time I would scroll through my friendslist but it only took a few posts before a post I had already seen previously would come up – a trick I use to signal myself to close the browser. In the past it would take me multiple posts to get to that point but now when the algorithm didn’t know how to parse the minimal information I gave it, it just threw everything it had at me trying to keep me engaged. The more it tried the more I realized how little it had to offer me so as long as I didn’t post and/or comment, the less reason I had to go back to the platform more than once a day.

The second thing I noticed was more of a revelation than anything else (which I discussed in my previous post): so many things are going on in the world that Social amplifies it all, all the time. There is no shortage of horrors occurring daily and we can read all about it. In the past, the news cycle curated what we would see and the weight would be put on local, regional, and national stories: only the biggest of the international stories would be fed to us through the funnel of news curation. Of course, we can also argue that this slanted our view of the world depending on the news outlet and that the internet leveled the playing field where we can now read about ANYTHING, ANYWHERE. But conversely, the algorithms on Social Media (and also to some extent on news websites) continue this funneling of information based upon what kind of content either they want us to see, or what content we’ve indicated we engage with the most. In essence, the problem isn’t solved, it has just become bigger. Gone is the large-to-small focus on local->regional->national-international news and in comes bad news from all over the world. Enragement is engagement and we are more likely to share the most enraging things we come across perpetuating the cycle.

A good example of this is something horrific like a child abduction. We know that child abductions by strangers are really rare and locally they happen quite infrequently. But with Social we now hear more about these incidents a lot more often and from all over the world. The reason for this is because people are more likely to be horrified by – and therefore share posts of – harm coming to children. So if an abduction happens half way around the world it realistically does not indicate that these crimes are going up but by just reading about it our feeling of safety and security goes down. Realistically nothing has changed at all but we feel like it has.

I realized that this effect was also driving helplessness in people and that sharing posts on Social made them feel that they had some power and control when in fact they do not – all they are doing is continuing the cycle of hopelessness. This came to the forefront recently when a friend asked on Facebook that people in the US take him off their political posts. As he – rightly – pointed out: he has no control as to what happens in the US. He doesn’t live there, pay taxes there, or vote there. The multitude of horrors being fed to him daily wasn’t doing anything but make him anxious over something he had zero control over. This struck me because it was so obvious that aside from the larger issues plaguing the world, more current event knowledge IS NOT power: it’s a reduction in power, and an increase in helplessness. That helplessness spills over into every aspect of our lives, too. The fact that the horrors are never-ending given a wide enough world, we stay on Social Media because some new fresh horror will be along to replace the last one at any minute.

This is, naturally, not an argument for ignorance nor is it a call for us to ostrich ourselves in a blanket of ignorance. It’s a recognition that staying informed about issues should follow that large-to-small sphere of influence: keep informed about local issues primarily, and international issues lastly. I do need to know what is happening in the world, I just don’t need to know every horrible minute detail about it.

Thirdly, what I have found from going back to Social only periodically is that everyone thinks they are the Leader of the Opposition when it comes to important issues: you can position yourself to look good just by pointing out the obvious holes. This all comes down to the nature of Social being performative (to be fair, all of social interaction is somewhat performative). @awardsforgoodboys on Instagram has a great write up about this (although it works for people no matter their politics) that covers how I feel about most posts when I scroll through them today: the poignant & funny meme, the hot take on the poignant and funny meme, the rebuttal to the hot take on the poignant and funny meme ad infinitum. It all feels like it’s a part of a great opinion hamster wheel where people are jockeying for position with every post about who is the most enlightened on the issue du jour.

My question has recently become, “so what is the desired outcome here?” I think a lot about this in the context of awareness campaigns and their place in the Social Media landscape. If you’ve been on Social for any length of time you have encountered these “awareness” posts either by DM or by cut-and-paste post requests: post the colour of your bra! A cancer patient’s only wish..! But realistically we all know that cancer is bad and what does this sort of campaign do except for shaming people (“I bet that most of you don’t care enough to repost this!”)? These posts make us feel warm and fuzzy when we share them because it feels like we’ve done something but in reality, we haven’t. In the end, it doesn’t translate into more donations or research, it’s a feel-good action that goes nowhere. Many Social Media posts have become like this: how does sharing this make me look to other people?

So I’ve started to ask myself that question to the larger issue of Social posting: what is the desired outcome here? Does posting this change the world in any way? Is arguing the finer points of issues actually educating and changing things, or is it performative? Am I looking to educate or am I looking be MORE right on the issue by shaming people who haven’t reached “my” degree of enlightenment? Does all this virtue-signaling/shaming/arguing actually change anything? Am I just looking for back pats? Could my time and energy be better spent volunteering, learning, donating money and supporting people who are on the ground instead of fighting with someone’s racist Uncle Bob? Maybe that energy could be better spent in my own community?

That’s what makes the job of the LotO in a majority government so appealing: you can be right just by the very nature of pointing out the flaws in the other person or plan & the people who agree with you, you already know will agree with you. You have the luxury of performance, the luxury of not having to make the hard decisions on the fly, the luxury of not being held responsible if things go wrong. But what you don’t actually get to do is really change anything. It’s a performative role, one that makes you look good but one where there is little-to-no risk. Posting on Social media without action is very much like that: you can scream into your megaphone to your chosen audience and you can all sit around and pat each other’s backs all day long about how right you are when it comes to certain issues. Critiquing is easy, action is hard. But at the end of the day: it’s all shit for flowers without actually DOING something outside of screaming into the algorithm. The question we need to ask ourselves is: if I really care about change/this issue what can I do right now to support it in real terms with real outcomes? I guarantee you that one more Social Media share isn’t the answer.

On giving up on facebook

On giving up on facebook

I have been getting up & heading outside with magazines, books & my journal and then staying there all day. I help the kids with their school until sometimes 2pm but then I swim, I read, I relax.

I’ve not been on Facebook at all. I went on and tried to get through some of it but then I saw the comment about triple funding the police so I peaced out. I wanted to jump in so badly to respond to that idiocy but honestly, why? I scrolled down and saw other conversations I wanted to contribute to and then I realized that this is the exact pattern I want to break: getting chained down to Facebook all day waiting for my turn in the back-and-forth of the argument. For what? I don’t GAF about these people, I won’t remember this convo in a year, rarely are minds changed, and in the end I’ll keep losing hours of my life to bullshit people (many of whom I don’t even know?).

I do enjoy in-person discussions. But what I think we’ve collectively failed to realize is that Facebook isn’t the same at all. It’s not similar to hanging out and have a few beers with friends & engaging in a lively discussion. You have nuance in-person, you have empathy, you have an ability to explain quickly and it all happens in real time. You don’t have convos that stretch out for days because someone disappears to go work, or what have you. Random people don’t barge into your circle and start screaming at everyone. You can say, “well, great talk but I’m calling it a night,” and everyone just leaves. No one continues screaming into the ether.

Will this sojourn last? Maybe, I don’t know. But right now it’s been great for my soul. I feel calmer and more productive than I’ve ever felt. Since retiring I’ve tried to look at ways to stave off technology’s grasp on my life and basically it comes down to, “don’t post, don’t comment.” It’s interesting to watch the algorithm struggle to try and keep me on the platform by just upping the notifications from communities and from where friends have commented on the posts of our mutual friends. But that doesn’t have the pull of a comment on a post or a reply to one of your comments.

I think in the end the balance just tipped for me and SM has become less enjoyable. Too much horrible news from the US (I can’t do anything about), too much news from random places that really don’t concern me but that heighten my anxiety, and too much performative nastiness that serves to shame, not educate.

I have four good hours of energy my brain allows me a day. I can spend it arguing with someone’s racist uncle Bob or I can read, draw, swim with my family and enjoy group chats with friends on Signal. The choice is obvious.