About two weeks ago, I decided that Facebook and I have to part. Now I didn’t want to give up my photography page (which requires an “admin account” connected to it, which has to be a personal account) so I’ve begun restricting myself to logging in only 2-3 times per week to see if there’s any comments and questions on the photography page – but otherwise, just leave it alone. Don’t read the Newsfeed, don’t “like” stuff, don’t pay attention to any of it.
And I can honestly say that my general mood has improved a lot. Now I’m an extremely happy Twitter user, and so I began to wonder why Twitter works so well for me, and why Facebook makes me so unhappy.*
And I think the reason is – separation of content. Soon after the November election, I realized that I really needed to separate my “photographer identity” on Twitter @alexskunz from my personal, private identity. Everyone was mad, sad and upset about the election of president #45, everyone was tweeting about it (including myself, of course) and I realized: “That’s just too much. This is not what I want to see in my timeline all the time now.”
I’ve created a secondary Twitter account for my private, personal identity. My main account is mostly about photography, with some weather nerd stuff, environmental and public lands content mixed into it. In other words, things that I like and care about. And yes… politics and president #45 is not among them (really). I did not just limit what I post, though – I also unfollowed some people (or at least turned off their retweets, or muted them) with my photography account, and followed them with my personal account instead. And that way, I managed to successfully separate my interests and what I get to see on Twitter.
And it works really well. I switch to my personal Twitter account when I’m ready for the bombardment with crazy, sad, insane and outrageous nonsense about president #45, his administration, and the Republican hypocrites who enable him. Otherwise, that stuff is not part of my Twitter experience – at least for the most part (occasionally, one of the people I’m following with my photography account posts something political, quite naturally).
It’s similar to reading news on the iPad in the morning with the Apple News app – I open that app, and I’m ready to see the crazy, sad, insane and outrageous nonsense about president #45, his administration, and the Republican hypocrites who enable him. And then I close the app – and I’m done with it.
On Facebook, this doesn’t work. What people post is all over the place. There is no way I can separate what I get to see in Facebook’s Newsfeed. Facebook Pages used to have their own Newsfeed, where I could read what other FB Pages (that I’ve “Liked” with my own FB Page) were posting – not anymore. I can only use my personal account to read Facebook’s Newsfeed – which is composed of stuff that their algorithm thinks I should see, based on past interactions, “Likes”, and who knows what else.
The result: everything gets marginalized. My FB Newsfeed contains an insane mixture of posts with cute animals next to posts about animal cruelty, and funny babies next to stories about starving kids, and some borderline fake-news nonsense from the left with some outrageous stuff that president #45 and his minions said and did. All. The. Time. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing joyous about seeing that stuff thrown together like this. I just can’t share my friend’s happiness when they post something joyous if it’s tailing something really upsetting and sad.
Of course I can’t tell my friends to stop posting upsetting, sad and outrageous things**. Because that’s also stuff that they care about, and that upsets them – and they want others to see it. I get it, I’m the same. But just like I stopped littering my “professional” Twitter account with personal and political things, maybe it would be time that we stop bombarding our Facebook friends with political things and negativity?
I’m sure there are people out there who don’t have a problem with that, but there’s only so much negativity I can take, and when that negativity is intermixed with cute animals and babies, it ruins everything for me. On Facebook, five out of 200 Facebook friends ruin my experience with posts that are on the negative end of the spectrum, and even if ten other friends post personal, positive things, I can’t avoid being affected by the negative stuff, and feel less empathy for my friends and their personal posts.
And I think that has to do with the fact that personal things somehow feel “small” and less important when they’re side by side with environmental disasters, human tragedies and political atrocities.
The world is on fire, and you’re posting cat videos?!
Again, there’s nothing wrong with posting cat videos. There’s nothing wrong with photos of cute little babies. There’s nothing wrong with sharing things you care about. It’s the mixture that doesn’t work. At least for me.
Maybe it would be time for Facebook to implement that “thumbs down” reaction – as a private way to teach their algorithm what I perceive negatively and what drags me down, that I really don’t want to see any more of. But until that’s actually happening, I decided to simply stay away from it.
*) I mean, besides the fact that their algorithm doesn’t show my posts or my page’s posts to my friends, and the people who are following the page… different story though, but I much prefer Twitter’s “firehose” over FB’s algorithms – just show me what’s there, right now, and all of it…
**) I actually tried, guess how well that worked… and that was before the election!
And here’s an unrelated photo of a pistachio muffin.