Scoville Units Unite

10 Apr

Anti Social-Media

I first went on the internet over 20 years ago. At the time the way you connected with people was via email directly or on bulletin boards and forums more publicly.

I really enjoyed it, little micro-groups of interested fowk, with moderation and blocking, and ability to separate interests by different sites. More importantly everything was decentralised.

Then along came social media sites. Bebo, Myspace, Facebook and many more which fell before they gained that level or popularity.

Slowly these disparate communities started to die, either through competition, or turnover as people moved on and new members were not being brought in due to a preference for the ease of a centralised Facebook.

I resisted Facebook for years, eventually caving into having an account so I could manage a Page. But even still I tried to keep it very locked down, everything as private as I could have it, and creating post audiences, and only adding people I genuinely knew. One of the only other things pushing me there was the number of gigs I had missed because promoters had only been promoting them on Facebook and nowhere else I could have seen them.

A few years ago I paused and took a look at the way I was using social media.

In the meantime I caved even further, eroded by comments from friends that I didn’t use it like others, was overly paranoid and so on.

I took a conscious decision to try to navigate it like others, post more, tag more photos of myself etc.

In early 2017 I again paused and took stock. Annoyed by reports of abuse of privacy, Facebook snooping on other web cookies and so on. Constantly having to review privacy settings as they changed repeatedly, always making info more public by default than it had been so.

I took some steps to disconnect Facebook.

Firstly I found all applications I had used a Facebook account as a sign-in mechanism for and de-authorised them, and set up a normal account to them if still needed. I had been interested in experiencing OAuth etc, but the closeness and sharing of data between various applications and Facebook had made me uneasy. The smaller numbers of accounts had seemed positive in the light of the number of password leaks and the like, but using strong unique passwords seems a better strategy than re-using Facebook for everything.

Secondly I de-authorised all apps that were using Facebook. There were only a handful, but I had tried a few to see what the deal was with games on the platform, some I hadn’t used in years etc.

Thirdly I did my almost annual review of friends list. Unfollowing people who posted too frequently or posted content I wasn’t interested in, unfriending those I hadn’t seen in years and couldn’t see me spending time with them again in the near future – former flatmates of friends I’d lost touch with and the like.

Fourthly, I’ve become unsettled at the, admittedly few, times I attempted to post a link to something online on twitter, facebook, or send through a messaging app and this failed, with others reporting failures with that specific link.

After doing this I intended to delete my Account completely. But I then found out that you still needed an Account to use the messenger application. As this was the sole way I kept in touch with a number of friends, it became one of only two things keeping me on it – that and gig information.

What I then did was start isolating Facebook to only use in a separate browser on it’s own. This is bonkers.

After reviewing a bunch of info about Cambridge Analytica and the like I had to pause again. One of my goals is to reduce the time I spend on social media overall. By reducing the amount of things I follow, hopefully the proportion of items I am genuinely interested in will increase.

I’m also concerned that a default bored behaviour is to pick up an application and scan pages of content. I have books on these same portable devices. If I have downtime or am waiting 10 minutes on something running I have something more interesting to do instead.

Facebook

I’ve taken shears to it.

Photos I was tagged in that weren’t owned by me? Untagged. The number of them which were on pages of people I haven’t seen in 5, 10 years was amazing. Facebook also made it very difficult. Some photos you could just Remove Tag, others you had to go through several menus in a Modal pop-up. I tried unliking a Page and re-liking it and tags were still there.

I was even more forceful with unfollowing. I can’t remember before unfriending family members – but second cousins I haven’t spoken to in real life for 15 years and wouldn’t recognise if I walked past in the street? Removed. People I haven’t seen in years and just post photos of a child I have never met – removed. This is no criticism of these people, just a reflection of my real relationship to them. We aren’t close friends sharing every detail of our life, why are we like that online?

I also scrubbed a large amount of data or made it visible to Only Me.

Next I intend to review my posts and likes and history and try to remove as much as possible. I’ve removed the application from my mobile devices – leaving the messenger app – and intend to just check every so often in a browser. I intend to massively reduce time spent on it to the bare minimum.

I would genuinely encourage others to do the same thing. Untag all the things. Unfriend/unfollow all the distant acquaintances etc.

Twitter

My Twitter is locked down and private, but I follow hundreds of accounts. The application makes it difficult to review these, having to do in a browser but I found Twitter accounts which had been inactive for 9 years which I still followed. Accounts of people I knew who have died. These will all be unfollowed, and then I will start to review who is following me.

LinkedIn

I have kept this as a professional network, adding people I know in real life or have worked with. I am not pro-active at all on it, and don’t even have a profile picture.

Google+

I have deleted my Google+ account. It was a bit of a damp squib.

Instagram

I reviewed who I was following, and removed those who I never see and post things I am not interested in – one was just pages of selfies in the same angle etc. Again, not a reflection on the individuals, just trying to minimise time on social media. I post almost nothing but photos of comics, records and gigs. Even if someone I know is a really close friend and has no interest in this, I would take no offence if they unfollowed me on it.

Snapchat

I’ve never really got this application. Before the awful redesign there were two pages. One where you could see stories and one messages? I think. I never really understood it. All I know is you would sometimes see the same message twice and have stories autoplay after you watched one.

So through all this, apologies to anyone who has taken offence or been upset by removal, feel free to reach out and connect with me if so. I was genuinely trying to just remove those I haven’t connected with in a long time and could sometimes be a bit over-zealous.

Luddite

I jest because a personal bugbear is people who use Luddite as a term without understanding who the Luddites were and that it’s not really an insult to me.

I’m not averse to using data to document aspects of my life, but I try to weigh them as things where I get a massive amount of free value out of them too instead of a company solely selling my data.

One of the reasons is to reduce the amount of unnecessary duplicate purchases I make in the things I actually consume.

On Goodreads I log books I am reading and intend to go through my entire collection logging my read/to-read pile.

On CLZ I log all my comics and graphic novels, again to spot gaps in story arcs.

On Deckbox I log my Magic cards collection, to keep an own/wants list.

On Discogs I log my music collection, keep a wants list to help complete collections, and try to document local bands and musicians.

But there is an element of concern in the negative aspects of social media.

The way people publicly document details of their life that the Stasi would only dream of.

The way they invite an ever wider circle into accessing ever more details documented.

The ways privacy is eroded through applications trying to access more and more data, whether they genuinely need it to function or not.

The ways privacy is eroded from repeated policy overhauls and more of the data being set to be more public by default and the access to fix these settings is hidden.

There is also the social change. Language and Culture are in a feedback loop and how we interact with each other has changed for the worse. How many times have you bumped into someone you haven’t seen in a while and instead of asking what they have been up to you comment on some detail of their life you know they have been doing? Instead of Wow you have a new job it’s what’s the new job like? instead of where have you been? it’s cool photo of that monument in tourist city. It’s unsettling.

Reduce Social Media, Increase Social Interaction.

Fewer Friends Lists, More Friends.

Reduce Wall Reading, Increase Quantity and Quality of Conversation.

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