Saturday, September 20, 2014

What I Learned From My Facebook "Like" Sabbatical

I decided a month ago to quit liking things on Facebook.  The impetus for the liking vacation initially was to force myself to have something to say to people on my timeline and actually try to connect with people with my words versus a way-to-easy-to-accomplish action of merely liking something.  I also wanted to see what my feed would look like if I didn't let Facebook easily know what my preferences were.  The results were interesting.

Liking Is NewSpeak
The first thing I noticed was that not liking something was REALLY difficult to do.  That like link/button/icon was so easy to use, that not letting the person know I liked something without it made me reconsider how much I actually liked the post in the first place.  If I liked something and wanted to show it, I forced myself to comment.  I also forced myself to comment with at least 3 words in a sentence.  Simply writing "Cool!" wasn't sufficient.  I had to add value with my comment in some way.  By limiting myself in this fashion, my commenting became less frequent but was more insightful as to how I actually felt.  It was like providing color to the monochromatic pallet of like.  I now understand the power and (dis)advantages behind George Orwell's "newspeak" of "good, plusgood, doubleplusgood, etc.".  Merely liking something doesn't convey emotion but intention.  It  generalizes the meaning behind it and waters down enthusiasm behind truly liking something because you're not forced to comment on what you like to give context and depth. 

My Feed Got Really Really...Boring
My feed completely changed after the first few days.  The number of posts with clickbait titles went to zero ("This girl got hit by a bus.  You won't believe what happened next!").  Many of the posts from pages I've liked started popping up as the Facebook algorithm desperately wanted to know what I  responded to.  The feed is a bit random now as Facebook tries to lure me to click on like.  It's pretty awesome.

My Friends Are Lost
Since I'm in comedy, I saw everybody's posts for their shows, videos, and funny musings.  Now, I hardly see any of those since I've stopped the Like Machine.  I see a lot more posts from closer family and friends but a lot of general things as well.  It's like I have no friends on Facebook (600+ ... not braggin', just sayin'). 

It's been a pretty interesting experiment.  Starting Monday 9/22 with a 30 day like-a-thon.  I haven't decided what the terms will be exactly but I'll write another post along the way.