Are you like me? Do you find yourself checking your Facebook news feed regularly and with ever increasing frequency? When you see a good movie, or take a cool photo, or experience something unique, is your first thought “I need to write a status update about that”?
One of the reasons why Facebook is so popular is because it gives us a little dopamine hit every time we find something we like. It’s a bit like fishing — hours of idle time can be justified by those few exciting moments precipitated by a fish tugging on your line. There’s an even bigger hit waiting for active posters: for many people in the 21st Century, the Facebook “like” button has become a surrogate source of validation, commiseration, therapy and love.
Whenever you find yourself indulging in repetitive behavior there are two important questions you should ask: Am I enjoying this behavior? Is this behavior making me a better person? As I think about my Facebook use, I realize that my enjoyment of the experience has declined over the years as it’s become increasingly automatic and addictive. There is without question some high quality material on Facebook, however, the low signal-to-noise ratio means I need to spend a lot of time looking for those gems.
That brings me to my answer to the second question: if anything, Facebook has made me a less interesting person. Because instead of reading books or blogs or taking an online course, or getting out in the real world and actually talking to other people, I’m wasting a non-trivial amount of my time sifting through the minutia of everyday lives.
I’m not going to get into the privacy issues or the abysmal user experience or a bunch of other technical reasons why I dislike Facebook. Based solely on my answers to those two questions, I think it’s time for me to move on to pursuits that I enjoy more and that make me a better person. I plan to read more, write more on this blog (which I’ve neglected since starting a new job in 2011), and spend more time with my wife and daughter.
To my Facebook friends: au revoir, mes amis! You can continue to follow my random thoughts and ideas right here at http://mco.dev. And to all my friends, virtual and real: may you find what you’re looking for in 2013.