I know I’m not the only person who is on Facebook because we have somehow become trapped in Mark Zuckerberg’s fishbowl. Now that we’re all in there together, I have become invested in being able to peek in the lives of people near and far who’s daily lives I would otherwise have no knowledge of.
I know people who have deleted their accounts or never had one in first place. I hear they lead full lives. I also know people who tried to delete it and ended up going back, feeling like they were missing out on too many personal and/or professional connections.
How I Use Facebook
However, I use Facebook as minimally as possible and I’m not in denial about the ways in which we are being exploited. Not that there’s any way to avoid it short of leaving, but I prefer to be exploited via Twitter, which is why 99.9% of everything I ‘post’ on Facebook is just tweets that have been forwarded on.
To me, Facebook is for cliff notes. If I want to ‘read the whole book’ and really catch up with someone, I call or text or email them directly. No filters. I don’t use Facebook for important personal, business or time sensitive communications.
When I really need to say something important, I try to do it in a space that I own, that is not subject to the whimsy of marketers, ads, algorithms and promoted posts. Those spaces are kronda.com (personal and social justice writing) and karveldigital.com (my business website). The things I publish on my own sites won’t disappear into some mysterious algorithm. You can search for a post and actually find it, or see everything I’ve ever written via the archives.
Facebook is Not for Connecting
Here’s a scenario that happened in the middle of writing this very post:
I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a comment from someone asking for a professional recommendation. I happened to know someone awesome who could help them. But before I could reply, I clicked something else by accident and landed on a different profile.
I went back to the main feed, but after a full 5 minutes of searching, I could not find the post again. I searched for the profile of the person I thought had posted it, but couldn’t find them.
Finally, suspecting who it might be, I went and searched my personal contacts for the person. I sent them an email asking if they were seeking a recommendation. I got a reply back in minutes saying they were, so I sent the information.
Whenever I find something of interest on Facebook, I know I have to either remember who posted it so that I can go directly to their profile to find it again, or save the link (hopefully it’s not a Facebook-only video) to something like Pocket for later review and sharing.
That is not the experience of a service that is trying to help people connect.
I don’t use the Facebook Messenger app which means any messages sent through FB can’t be read on my phone or tablet. I cannot stress this enough: if you need to reach me for any non-trivial or time-sensitive communication, I encourage you to venture outside the fishbowl and do it ‘the old fashioned’ way.
How to Find Me
If you need to reach me for personal or business reasons, here are a few ways to do it, in order of preference:
- Text or email is checked most frequently.
- Phone call: I tend not to answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but I do listen to and respond to voicemail.
- If you don’t have my contact information, you can use the contact forms on either of my websites.
- LinkedIn: I don’t spend a lot of time there, but I do respond to messages.
Stake Your Corner of the Internet
I also encourage you to get your own space to hold your digital ideas, even if you think no one will go to it. If you have the ability to fill out a form on the web, you can create a WordPress.com site in minutes and start publishing. Your data can be exported and imported onto your own server, should you ever want to do that. I once watched a friend move her blog from Blogger to WordPress.com in 10 minutes.
Yes, you’ll always have to go through someone to get your content on the web, but how easy is it for you to pick up your toys and leave the party? Portability matters. There are services that play nice and make it easy to move your content and those are the ones you should trust. At least you’ll own your contributions to this awesome entitiy we call the world wide web.
Facebook isn’t the world, it’s just AOL with a new skin on it.
Edited to add: The Indie web camp site is a great place to get started learning about owning your own content.