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Last week I read about a guy who did an experiment: For two days, he liked everything on Facebook. Stuff that was completely opposite of what he believed in, stuff that he most definitely did not like, stuff that he felt really bad about liking.
It didn’t take long at all until his feed was filled with crap that he hated. His friends’ posts were barely getting through. It was all ads and websites. But even worse, his friends’ feeds were full of the crap he’d been liking.
That sounded about right.
A little while ago I was scrolling through Facebook, happily catching up on my friends’ vacations and such, when I found this article, about the exact opposite experiment from the first one: not liking anything on Facebook.
She’d been at it for two weeks as of the writing of the article, and she swears that it’s made her feed better. She doesn’t have any stats to back that claim up, it’s just an impression.
It seems that the Like function had me trapped in a universe where the environment was dictated by a knee-jerk ad-bot. You like yogurt? You’ll like Extreme Yogurt more! You liked eight cute kitten videos? You’ll really want to see to this graphic image of eight kittens being tortured by scientists!
But she is completely sure of one thing: her experiment has made her more vocal and involved in her feed. Since she couldn’t show her interest by liking a post, she would instead comment on it.
What a great idea! I would love to have my feed back! I can remember the good old days (a year ago?) when I could control what was in my feed. Hide all of the posts from annoying people I knew in real life and didn’t want to unfriend. See all of the posts from interesting people. Sigh. I miss those days.
So, I decided right then and there to try it. From now until the end of August, I wouldn’t like anything on Facebook.
I lasted ten minutes.
I hated not being able to simply acknowledge that I had read something, leaving my little “I was here!” mark. I tried leaving comments instead, but the truth is, I just didn’t have much to say for most of the posts that I enjoyed. For a funny dog video I left a one-word comment: “Hilarious!” But really, wouldn’t liking the post have conveyed the exact same thing?
Same with a cute pic of a friend’s kids. “Cute” I wrote. Well, yes, but I hadn’t really added anything to the conversation!
When I actually do have something to add, I comment. Always. This felt so very fakey-fake, I just couldn’t stand it. Not only did I give up, I scrolled back up to where I’d found the no-liking post and then went back through, liking everything that I would have liked the first time around.
Including the article that had started all this.
I wish I could do it, just to get my feed back. I’d say that about two-thirds of what’s on there is stuff I scroll past and could do without.
I would happily pay Facebook a dollar or two, even five, every month, in order to control my feed again. It’s not even about ads. If I could have the ads along with everything from the friends that I choose, I’d be perfectly happy.
But I’m guessing I’m in the minority. People want something they use every day for their own enjoyment to remain free, even if the free version is getting worse and worse every day. And Facebook is happy to capitalize on this complacency.