Lately I’ve been living in the past a bit on Facebook.
I’m a sucker for looking through the memories that pop up in the “On This Day” feature on the popular social media site. It’s entertaining for me to look at old photos where I was tagged, or look back at funny comments I’d posted online years ago.
Can you believe it was just eight years ago when Facebook started your little window to the world by saying “David Trinko is …” and I’d just complete the sentence, with wisdom such as “grilling out in 30-degree weather, because he wants to.” (True post from 2011.) I suspect I posted once or twice a day back in those days.
Nowadays, if you look through my Facebook, you’ll just see a weekly link to my column and maybe one observational post per week.
To quote B.B. King, “The thrill is gone."
Facebook and social media have become yet another chore, like clearing the spam out of your email.
Given my work at the newspaper, I can't abandon the social media behemoth. There are too many story ideas that pop up there, too many organizations that will share what they’re doing with their couple thousand followers but never think to contact the newspaper and its 70,000-plus person reach.
I blame Facebook’s technology mostly. It’s gotten too smart for its own good.
I recently noticed I’m seeing an awful lot of Florida State football popping up on my feed. That’s strange, since I’m an Ohio State fan, and I’ve never claimed to like the Seminoles. I finally broke down and looked at the advertising settings page.
It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself. It told me that I like role-playing games (which I don’t play), “Grey’s Anatomy” (which I don’t watch) and Florida State football (which I don’t enjoy, but I’d guess fans say that too).
I stared at it for a moment and thought back through my life how Facebook could have so completely misunderstood me. I realized when Florida State fired its coach, Willie Taggart, back in November, I read a story that popped up on my feed. Ever since, it’s convinced I’m a Seminoles fan.
Similarly, when I looked through the list of famous people it thinks I care about, NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Cam Newton all popped up. As a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, I couldn’t understand why Facebook wanted to show me so much about these people, other than the fact they’ve all driven the Bears nuts when they played.
The worst part is when I see this stuff that’s meaningless to me, I stop scrolling. I miss out on friends’ and family’s sharing of meaningful events in their lives or their funny moments.
At the risk of sounding like an old fart yelling at kids to get off his lawn, I miss the old Facebook. You know, the one where you mostly saw posts from old friends and acquaintances about what’s going on in their lives. It was the one where people weren’t driven apart by political views, pushed to yell and unfriend one another. We spent more time thinking about what we had in common than what was different.
This holiday season, I’m trying to be more thankful for what I have, including those nearly 500 friends and family members on Facebook (and even those 56 stalkers who decided to quietly follow me). I’m trying to game the system better, hitting “like” on more things I genuinely like and hitting the X to hide the things I don’t need in my life.
I’ll try to be more clever, witty and funny on there too, giving it one more chance to live up to its promise of bringing the world together. I don’t want to live my life on social media or portray it inaccurately, but there’s little harm in sharing a little piece of myself to try to make it the kind of network I want it to be.