• Caroline Donough

Why I'm Taking a Break from Facebook

"It's sucking the marrow from my bones."

That's how I've been feeling about Facebook since about a year ago. The things that had been showing up in my News Feed in the last year are things that other people more than likely would've seen in theirs also... but while they may be fine with it all, I had started to feel happier each time I logged out. So I began to get off the grid. A little at a time. Starting with hiatuses of two to three days at a time at first, which progressively got longer and longer as my interest in Facebook continued to wane over the past months.

And effective about three weeks ago, I've put Facebook on an indefinite pause.

My main beef with Facebook has to do with the increasing amount of spam that seems to be spewing from the platform these days. It's like a virus that's spreading out of control.

"Share if you have a heart..."

"You are a horrible person if you ignore this..."

"I bet I know who among my friends will Like and Share this..."

"Do not just Share. You must Copy, Paste and Share this..."

Every time I see well-meaning people falling for this emotional blackmail nonsense, I'd think to myself, "Don't they realise these are hoaxes? They can't really be that naive, can they?" I mean, seriously. Sure, I may be critical of Facebook for not doing a better job of filtering spam, but really, people can be so dumb. Seeing them posting this stuff was one thing, but what bugged me even more was when they asked me to do it also, but like I said, they're well-intentioned and are probably oblivious to the fact that they're spreading unsolicited nuisance. I admit, I did oblige a friend or two out of politeness with the war vet thing (which I later deleted) and that was it. But once I did, I wish I hadn't, because having indulged them once, they came back to me again and again. So stupid of me, I should've seen it coming. It got to the point where I would just ignore their requests and hoped that they got the message.

I'd laugh if it weren't so irritating. But it is what it is, and what it is is time-wasting, pesky bogusness. Even if it ever claims to be coming from the Pope. Call me cynical, but getting notifications to copy, paste and/or share sappy chain messages rankles me to no end. I can't speak for others, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to become a proliferator of junk. It's too bad that spam has undone so much of the fun that Facebook as a social networking platform once was, and sure, there are other reasons for why I've decided to take a break from Facebook, but it's mainly because of all this garbage that's going around. And despite my best efforts to customise my settings, it keeps showing up thanks to people who are gullible enough to keep it going that for me, logging in to the platform and seeing the same insipid crap over and over and over AND OVER has lost much of its appeal.

In a similar vein, I've lost count of the number of times I've scrolled away from fake news articles that people share on Facebook. Just like the above copy/paste/share baloney, it's annoying, and why someone would blindly share articles from unverified sources is beyond me. Every time I see someone doing that, I'm reminded of a conversation a friend and I once had when he said that there's a fine line between desiring to share information and devaluing one's personal credibility. Especially if it's about a loaded subject like politics. Spot on and I couldn't agree more.

I wish there were a better way to filter my News Feed without having to apply settings that are too restrictive. But alas, there isn't, so here I am. And the older I get, the more I realise how important it is to be selective about how I spend my time and where I spend it. It's my own fault really that I've allowed Facebook to take up too much of my time than it deserves, which is why I've now hit the brakes. And I'm happier for it.

That said, I am Facebook friends with family members and a few really close buddies, some of whom I've known for many moons, so I might still log in from time to time and engage with them. It's not as though I need Facebook to keep in touch with them or anything (I mean, come on... they're in my life), but for the simple reason that they're not spammy, I'd like to maintain the connection, so it's more than likely I won't abandon Facebook altogether. Not yet, anyway. Plus, Facebook is my only means of connection to a few friends who live abroad, so...

But for right now, it's definitely on the back burner.


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