My quest for connection and meaning continues. I waste so much – so much – online time on meaningless pursuits. When I get onto Facebook or exchange communication (chat, email, etc.) with someone I want it to be engaging, personalized and mutually beneficial. But so often, what little interaction I have is none of those things. I “like” a status or a photo and move on. More often than not, I’m being marketed at to buy something I probably don’t need. I’m tired of wading through the advertising and the noise to find the stuff that matters to me. I know the cards are stacked against me a bit due to Facebook’s infamous algorithms (why can’t we go back to seeing all posts, chronologically from everyone we follow!?), but my own folly was contributing to the problem as well. I’d liked so many brands, websites, business, musicians, people, etc. that there was no possible way that I could keep track of it all.
So I edited. I took my likes from close to 700 down to 200. At first I unliked the obvious stuff – Angel Soft toilet paper? I felt the need to share with the world the brand of toilet paper I prefer to buy? All of the brand and business likes went out of the window, save for a small handful of locally owned places that I actual patronize on a regular basis. Those are the place that need my social media support (such as it is), and places I would genuinely recommend to a friend over a cup of good tea. Amazon doesn’t need that from me. That got my total number down quite a bit, but it was still too high. So I Marie Kondo’d the hell out of my likes list, forcing myself to open up the pages of every site where I hadn’t already been regularly viewing (and importantly – enjoying) content. And then I ruthlessly axed anything that hadn’t posted in more than a month (quite a lot there, actually) or didn’t spark joy for me anymore. And lo and behold – my news feed is looking a lot more relevant and interesting to me again. It will be up to me now to engage meaningfully with the content – instead of just a like, I aim to comment with meaningful replies, and narrate something I wish to share instead of just posting it to my wall.
After likes, groups. I probably cut out at least 20, and set another 10 to no active notifications – if I don’t miss those in a week (something tells me I won’t) then I’ll leave those two. Actually, as I typed that I realized how absurd that was, so I took a moment just now and left them all, except five that I am actually interested in, and set the notifications to recieve all posts. If the posts I’m seeing aren’t relevant to me, are too overwhelming, or don’t serve my intentions for my online time, I’ll ditch those too.
And then came the friends list. To be fair, I’ve always had a small (by Facebook standards) friends list – it’s sat at around 50 people for many years now. But out of those 50, I can probably count on one hand, maybe two, the face-to-face relationships I have with them. Now, that’s not necessarily the best criteria alone to cull a list on, as one of the points of Facebook is to help us keep in touch with those we are geographically separate from. But there was a good number of people in my list (about half, actually) that I don’t even have any form of online engagement with, down to not even getting a like on my stupid posts. And that doesn’t bother me per se, but why stay “connected” with them? At one point in time we had a shared interest or situation that was meaningful to us both, and as time and life have progressed, that connection has worn thin, and worn out. That’s just a natural part of human relationships I think, and there’s no hard feelings. So for those small few that remain on my list, it’s now up to me to enhance those relationships and connections. Facebook should be the starting point, or an extension of, a meaningful real-world relationship with people – that occurs in person, hearing their voice, opening a handwritten letter in the mail. Relationships are meant to be tangible and personalized, and I want to get better about holding up my end of that bargain.
So I’ve edited, and it’s time well spent, I think. I axed a bunch of blogs I no longer read from my Feedly, and unsubscribed from tons of emails too. My head feels clearer and lighter already. I have no time for aimless choice fatigue or boredom scrolling anymore. If I want to have meaningful connections in my life, there is no time like the present to start.