I’ll try to keep this short and simple. As things stand in the communications universe in our times, Facebook is the best place to have some sort of presence if you want to remain in contact with your friends of yore or make new friends. I’ve been involved in “Social Media” since it first began–my dear friend Ari Davidow beats me by a few months because he was one of the founders of “The Well” which has some claim to being the first social network. But I’ve been doing it for thirty years now and that’s pretty ancient as these things go.
Back then, Terri and I wrote an annual newsletter and shipped it out via U.S. Mail around the Winter Break time. That encapsulated an outline of our doings, and we always heard back from friends about how nice it was to keep up with us. But over time, we got out of the habit and that meant that some people very dear to us began slipping into the time stream. Facebook can be better because it’s always available and does a decent job of dealing with photos, and videos and such. With that advantage comes many disadvantages. Exposure to spam, and insults, and above all a potential waste of lots of time. And lets face it, some of us (including me) overshare. Really, most of my friends don’t need to see the latest photos of our cat.
If you’re among that group of my friends who would like to stay in touch but have all sorts of doubts (and perhaps a few bad experiences) with Facebook, here are a few suggestions for making your peace with it.
First, make sure that when you create your FB account, you do so with a strong password. Miscreants will try to steal your identity, but the good news is that FB has gotten very good about protecting you.
Second, learn a bit about the privacy controls that FB gives you. They are far from perfect, but they are useful in ensuring that you get what you need out of FB without compromising your Net safety. Set your default to “only you” or “friends only” — you can always change it later to be more inclusive if you feel like engaging with the greater world.
Third, and I think this might be my most important suggestion for you: manage your time by learning how to read only the the items you care to read. Instead of scrolling through the standard FB feed, learn to click on just the sources and people you want to see. You can click on your favorite news source and see all the posts from that source in chronological (reverse) order. You can click on the names of your friends (or put the name in a search box) and then all the items that person has posted will be shown to you. You can interact (or not) with your friends, and then close out your session.
Fourth, remember the age-old adage: “Please don’t feed the trolls.” If someone is making your life miserable, click on their name and then hit the FB button that allows you to block them. It’s one of Facebook’s best features!
Sure, if you have time to spare, you can then let FB show you what it thinks you will want to see via the “news feed.” But if all you want to do is see what your family and friends are up to, there’s no need for that. Just look at their posts and log out.
I’ve written this article for the completely selfish reason that I want you to stay connected and participate in my posts. I hope my name will be one of the ones you seek out!
Perhaps some of my friends will add to these comments with their own suggestions for surviving social media. And for those of you who still don’t want to use Facebook or other social media, I’ll try to post things here in my private blog as well. Happy conversations to all!