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Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing (2015) (nautil.us)
571 points by dnetesn 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 200 comments



These articles ignore people’s real alternatives. I’m in my 30s and have a small child. While I love to fly into Chicago or New York for a night of drinking with my still-single friends, that’s not really something I get to do more than once every couple of months. Seeing my wife’s extended family (3,000 miles away in the west coast) is a once every year thing, and seeing my extended family (7,000 miles away in Asia) is maybe a once a decade thing. But Facebook lets me see the woodworking project my Chicago friend is working on, the delicious things my father in law is making for the holidays, and at least know what my cousins’ kids look like these days. Far from being junk food, Facebook lets me maintain the most basic and important human relationships.

What did people in my situation do before Facebook? My parents, like most baby boomers I suspect, weren’t going out in the evenings to see friends in person. They’d sit down in front of the TV after work. Their social lives were narrow, focused heavily on home life and the kids. That’s what Facebook is replacing, and it’s a huge improvement.


Having quit Facebook some 4+ years ago, I think about these things too and have come to the conclusion that:

a) I don't need to know about the project my distant friend is working on, or the food anyone is making or eating* .

b) A solution that existed before Facebook were X-Mas cards. So, I think that's what I'll be doing when I no longer see my parents and close friends daily.

* On a side note, my mom calls my grandma for an hour or so weekly and they frequently talk about what they cooked and exchange recipes, but that's more personal than a Facebook/Instagram post.


I've been trying to cut back on FB recently (and HN, though with a bit less success...), and I've found that just filtering out high-volume posters helps a lot.

If most of your friends only post once a week or so you might just see 5 or 10 posts in a day. And usually it's somewhat interesting.

Not having the app and staying logged out by default also helps. I'll just scroll through facebook once every couple of days now, instead of the old "10 times a day". And I don't feel like I'm missing much except for being a bit late to reply to event invites.


Yeah, going to have to agree here.

Facebook is just a never-ending stream of shit I don't really care about or need to hear about. The time I don't spend on Facebook is vastly better spent than the time I spend on Facebook, even when that time is just watching whatever dumb TV show that helps me unwind (as opposed to reading nonsensical commentary from random people I don't know uttering all the manner of stupidity)

I haven't quit it per se, but I the only thing I really use it for anymore is organising my monthly board-game night with friends.

As such I find the things Facebook does to try and pull you in to be extremely annoying. Pushing a notification at me claiming I have all kinds of "new" shit I need to look at when in reality it's just a recycling of shit I ignored months ago is, frankly, pretty hideous.

You know what, posting this has actually inspired me to go in and do a nice big ol purge...


This isn't helpful. Fine, you don't care about your distant friends/relatives daily activities, but that's no help to those of us who do. I live in California and some people who are personally important to me live in florida. I talk to them at least once a day but on an ad-hoc basis, so email isn't that suitable.

Edit: corrected geographic confusion

Really, what is the point of a post like yours other than to negate the post that came before it by articulating why you don't care about the issue raised?


I think the point of his/her post is to show that from his/her perspective, the "connection" you get to friends and family via facebook isn't valuable. Although it may be to some, it isn't to everyone.

I have to agree, as someone that quit many years ago and hasn't looked back since. I still communicate with my long distance relatives, just not publicly. I use a combination of Google Hangouts, email, and just plain old phone calls to keep up to date with their lives. I share photos daily, via google photos, directly to those that I want to see them. And my family, who happen to use Facebook, know to send me photos using other methods.

This way, I only get information/photos that is meant for me to see. Not just every day stuff that's going on in everyone's life. To me, that's not important to my relationships, and is really a waste of my time that I can be using with my family in my house. The interactions I do share, though, is extremely important to me.


> I use a combination of Google Hangouts, email, and just plain old phone calls to keep up to date with their lives. I share photos daily, via google photos, directly to those that I want to see them. And my family, who happen to use Facebook, know to send me photos using other methods.

This seems like an inconvenience you impose on everyone else to do things Facebook handles natively.


I have learned I just don't need to live social life with distant relatives and friends every day. The important things filter to the surface of your life as do the important people. I get more value out of a longer email or a 15 minute phone call than a bunch of shallow interactions on Facebook.

I suspect over time we will learn that Facebook and the like is actually poor at maintaining social relationships in a meaningful way. It seems like it works but I maintain my social network dine without it. And yes I am fine having far fewer, but quality interactions. I don't think I impose any cost on my friends and family. If we can't chat once in a while via voice or video we just aren't that important....


There isn’t some set number of relationships you can have such that you’ve got to pick out the “important” ones.


Actually, there very much are.

Most people are familiar with Dunbar's number, which expresses the size of a total community. That's not the number of important relationships, but essentially the number of total relationships you can juggle.

In your life, should it be a reasonably long one, you'll experience about a half-million waking hours. If you get to know 10,000 people in your life, the total time you can dedicate to any one of them is about two days (48 hours).

In The Mythical Man Month, Fred Brooks notes the dynamics of team communications, which rapidly develop complexity after about 5-6 members. Programming teams, unless the work can be modularised to the extent teams have full independence generally lose effectiveness as they're scaled above this level.

The Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China -- effectively the inner cabal of government -- has ranged from 5-9 members, and is presently 7. (Each of them represents the interests of about 185 million Chinese.) Again, tight working groups simply do not scale past a large size.

I've been digging at various elements of this question for a few years, largely informally. But the clear point is that your relationship time is limited, that close relationships take time and investment, and that as attention is spread, the nature of those relationships tends to deteriorate.

(I'm not aware of specific literature on this offhand though I'm certain it exists.)


Thanks for writing that out that was pretty much where I was thinking :)


I think in a philosophical sense that is true. However, our wetware is just wired to keep about 100 fellow people close. More than that and relationships seem to become very superficial. Most people only maintain a very small number of close relationships. Those are the "important" ones. Importance is sort of decided naturally, though.


100 seems high. I have heard it's more like 12 to 15.


I think bitexploder is referring to the "Dunbar's number" which is 150.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

From the wiki: Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships.


That's not actually true.


> This seems like an inconvenience you impose on everyone else to do things Facebook handles natively.

If you're important to them, then people will do whatever they need to keep in touch with you. Inconvenience is when they don't care enough to keep in contact with you. While in a perfect world everyone would accept your impose line of communication, in your case Facebook, everyones preference is different.


I’d add that the relationships where you’re willing to go the extra distance are the only ones that matter. Quality not quantity.


so... you could also be the one to go the extra mile and use facebook...

don't misunderstand i log in about once a month but because i have other platform (and because i'm terrible at keeping in touch), but other than political or idelogical reasons why not use it for your family convenience?


I think you've kind of missed the point the posters above are making. Facebook is impersonal. That's why it's convenient - it takes no effort whatsoever to share everything with everyone. As a result, the value of shared information to people who care about quality relationships is much lower than if two people deliberately communicate with only each other about something.

Put another way, if your family/friends can't be bothered to actually communicate with you one-on-one about things in their lives because it's less convenient than posting to everyone, then those relationships must not be very valuable. To those of us who care about maintaining quality relationships, convenience is a non-factor. I would much rather have lunch with a friend a few times a year than read their stream-of-life facebook posts on any kind of regular basis, even though the former is several orders of magnitude less convenient.


So you should be available on (within many limits) all platforms. For somebody _not_ using facebook could be alienating.

Moreover there is a great difference in motivations and convenience; facebook is convenient for many people as a fact and there is nothing wrong with keeping contacts with acquaitances


> If you're important to them, then people will do whatever they need to keep in touch with you.

Yes, but isn't it a bit ironic to say you don't use Facebook because it wastes your time, and then expect others to spend extra time communicating with you?


Maybe it is, but I'm sure that in my case, they enjoy the extra time they spend communicating with me.


It seems the karma thing on HN works like this.


> I don't need to know about ...

Surely the question is not about what you absolutely need or not. You could strip you life back to only necessities. Some people might find that fulfilling, but I suspect many wouldn't.

I think the question is more of cost/benefit. Do the benefits of something sufficiently outweigh their costs.


As long as you're willing to accept the burdens of using FB as a panopticon. You get the blatant ads, the furtive ads, the manipulative filtering, the spam, the agit-prop. Ma Bell never barged in with a jingle when I used to call my grandmother. There is no cost/benefit analysis here. You can't cast this in a positive light relative to any previous means of social connection. It's absolute shit.

I've come to the conclusion that this round of social media is possibly the worst incarnation of technology in the past 30 years. Hopefully the next version is less shitty.


> There is no cost/benefit analysis here.

You're literally doing a cost/benefit analysis.

You seem to be assuming that such an analysis implies there there has to be substantial benefits, or something like that. (I'm not commenting here on whether they do or don't exist in the case of Facebook)


Let's write down the recipe for an modern social media comment:

1. Take person literally to a fault in order to create a counterpoint.

2. Say obviously true, yet embarrassingly vague things to defend that counterpoint.

3. Respond "I'm not talking about that" when any possibility of nuance would enter the discussion.


Are you kidding? I'm an X'er and my parents are boomers, and I can assure you we all had an absolute ball before Facebook came along. "Not going out in the evenings to see friends, sitting watching TV, having narrow social lives" - seriously? Maybe in your family / community / culture, but not mine, and not many, many others too.

I'd even be tempted to speculate that those of us who aren't Facebook addicts are the ones who are able to socialise just fine without it, thank you very much, if it weren't for the fact that I know plenty of good-living, fun-loving Facebookers too.


Same here, though I guess I'm now considered early millennial. Work/school nights we stayed in, but it was only solitary when there was homework. Otherwise it was cooking together, playing games together, etc.

Weekends, we went to someone's house and just hung around all day. Which house was a rotating thing, so nobody was stuck hosting all the time. Adults sat around in the kitchen drinking wine or whatever, and kids ran in feral packs through the neighborhood.


What geographic area is that?

I was born in Australia in the late 70s and the picture you paint of pre/post Facebook doesn't ring true to my experience.


Midlands of the UK, then various places around Europe, then Australia (since well before Facebook). I think we're probably seeing "the plural of anecdote is not data" in effect?


I would love it if Facebook worked that way for me. But unfortunately its just selfies and crappy shares of motivational or "funny" memes. The people that I am interested in mostly never post anything - and me neither, because I a) would like to share with close friends and family but not everyone I am connected to* and b) I find it too stressful to having to worry that my post won't garner many likes and thus will be a "social failure"

* Yes, I know that I can set the target group but I never set it up and is too much work for just a small posting


Unfortunately customizing your news feed takes some work. Frankly I'd like a setting that just says I'm not interested in any of the following:

- Tag a friend who ...

- Quizzes

- Inspirational quotes of any kind

- Social game results of any kind (or invites for that matter)

In my own feed I had a few culprits who were largely responsible for this noise. I think only in one case did I have to resort to unfollow (although it's an option). It seems that less than 20 sites/pages are responsible for the vast bulk of these. Or perhaps that's just the case out of my friends. I really don't know. Either way after hiding these posts and choosing to see no more posts from whatever the source page was, my news feed is pretty clean.

Others post a lot of BS politics, which I kinda hate. The more ignorant ones (we're talking family here) I've even baited when bored. But I know people who have started using Instagram to avoid the nonsense politics (even though some of these same people like to share inspirational quotes /sigh).

If you're interested in say family photos and updates then Instagram may be a purer experience for you. Assuming who you're interested in posts to Instagram that is.

As for your stuff not getting shared/liked, well that's a whole other thing. Disclaimer: I work for Facebook. Only for a short time thus far but long enough that I've been involved with a bunch of research on groups. A lot of people take groups pretty seriously. One admin I heard speak was talking about how he always made an effort to make people feel included and heard like if someone's post wasn't getting a lot of comments they'd go out of their way to comment on it and include others so that person felt like part of the community.

So I don't know what your interests are but I'm pretty sure at this point there's a group for basically everything. In the right group you may find more sense of community and less of a barrier to posting and sharing because of good admins and just the common interest you have by being in that group.


I prefer G+ Communities and Twitter for my nerdy, interest-based communications. Instagram for meatspace folk.

I don't know what it is exactly, but the Facebook stream fills me with an anxious loathing -- I even find that shade of blue repulsive.


> In the right group you may find more sense of community

Interesting, but I am not even looking for a community, I just don't want to put a post out there that will be "unsuccessful". It doesn't bother me if I only get a few likes, it bothers me that all my friends see how my post is "failing". I am not in panic but it puts me off from posting. Am I the only one with those thoughts? Facebook without the like mechanism would cater to me much more.


Have you tried caring less about if you get likes or not, or whether your posts are "successful" or not, and just genuinely share things?

Whatever posts I make on Facebook are usually things I genuinely want to share, whether it's photos while I'm traveling, or link to an article that I find really meaningful. Some people will see it, they might even like it but not press Like, I don't really care. It's something that I wanted to share and I know it reached someone, and that's all I wanted to do. It could be an article that explains really well what Net Neutrality means and why people should care, or it could be an amazing waterfall in Iceland.

Incidentally, I subscribe to certain subreddits about hobby topics (like Dragon Ball Z), and whenever I make posts on them, I (irrationally) care more about how many upvotes (or worse, downvotes) my posts get than I care about my posts' "success" on Facebook. So maybe I do know what you mean, but I see Facebook differently (and more personally and less social-media-y) than everyone else does.


I use http://www.fbpurity.com/ to do filtering on Facebook and it works well enough even if it breaks the layout sometimes.


> I would love it if Facebook worked that way for me. But unfortunately its just selfies and crappy shares of motivational or "funny" memes.

I don't know much about Facebook's feed because I don't use it a ton, but can't you just unfollow the people who post this stuff? I'd imagine after doing this just a handful of times, your feed would become a lot better tuned to the kind of stuff you actually want to see.

The ~once a month I do end up scrolling through my Facebook feed, I find a pretty healthy amount of interesting things from those friends of mine that are interesting. The majority of these aren't even links, they're actual posts.


> can't you just unfollow the people who post this stuff?

Actually I did just a month ago but now my feed is quite empty. It seems the people I am interested in stopped posting or even deleted their accounts. I wonder whether and how FB is working on getting those back.


The same happened to me. First, I started unfollowing people I don't interact with in real life anymore, after that, I unfollowed people I care about but who posted uninteresting things, then, I noticed there were tons of irrelevant Facebook pages in my timeline (pages I've "Liked" a long time ago maybe because I saw a good post from them or maybe the page's name was appealing) so I unfollowed all of them. I used to check Facebook several times during the day, now I check it two or maybe three times a day, because my timeline is almost empty. After several tries of quitting by deactivating my account, I think I finally found a good way to quit it, and maybe I don't even need to totally deactivate it since it doesn't absorbs my time anymore.


What I would like is the ability to filter out all reposts. If all you saw was original posts, it would clean up 90 percent of all the garbage.


> I find it too stressful to having to worry that my post won't garner many likes and thus will be a "social failure"

Shitposting has helped me personally get over that. I share stuff I find interesting and fun. If people like it, wonderful, if they don’t, eh it was a shitpost anyway what do I care.

The reasons I keep doing it are in part the same as everyone, it’s great when a little thing you found cool garners some attention, much dopamine, or brings out some stimulating discussion, much learn. But when it doesn’t do any of those, it still helps me better remember and notice those little moments in life that otherwise pale into the background. A form of intentionalness and inthemomentness or whatever the zen buzzwords are these days, if you will.

Strangely enough, I get more comments and questions IRL than I do likes/comments on Facebook. Seems people love to watch and read, but don’t lik publicly exposing themselves as having done so.


Facebook is giving you the illusion of having relationships and appeals to some nostalgic programming in our brains.

I have a once close friend who moved out to Oregon from the east coast. I talk to him every two years when somebody dies at home. Knowing that his kid won the pinewood derby doesn’t give us anything more in common.


What is an "illusion of a relationship?" If you think of someone and appreciate the little bit of their life story they shared on Facebook, is that an illusion? After all, that's what relationships in real life are built on as well: telling each other what happened at work, about that new restaurant you went to, the joke you heard, the stupid thing your kid did. Facebook is a pretty good vehicle for doing those things over distance.


> If you think of someone and appreciate the little bit of their life story they shared on Facebook, is that an illusion?

Whatever it is, it’s not a substitute for real two-way interaction. Meaningful relationships don't survive on impersonal status updates broadcast to a general audience.

If it involves communication back and forth (e.g. telling each other what happened at work) that’s something. If it’s scrolling passively through status updates or photos, or posting updates on yourself to nobody in particular, it’s junk food.


I agree. If you just want to keep tabs on people, that’s what Christmas cards or family newsletters are for.


That sounds like an acquaintanceship, not a close friend.

All my close friends, I direct message them almost everyday.


Yea, I can't really understand why all the complaints about Facebook are so maximalizing. I feel like the authors of all these hitpieces are personally unable to engage in healthy, limited usage of it, so they cast it as as some universal evil that every person is powerless to resist.

I got Facebook in 2006, when it was only college kids (and some high school kids), and my usage throughout college was 99% photo sharing and event planning. 10 years later, my usage of Facebook is......99% photo sharing, event planning, and messaging.

At no point did Facebook launch a feature that pointed a gun at your head and forced you to mindlessly scroll through your feed. Blaming the product/platform for people's unhealthy use of it is like blaming dessert or alcohol for existing: I avoid both of those things a lot more than most people do, but I also wouldn't want a world that completely lacked them.


> I feel like the authors of all these hitpieces are personally unable to engage in healthy, limited usage of it, so they cast it as as some universal evil that every person is powerless to resist.

I can smoke cigarettes responsibly. One every few weeks, which I have researched and believe does not negatively impact my health. In fact, it provides a moment of stress relief that outweighs possible negatives.

How do you feel about cigarette legislation? They've never pointed a gun and forced people to smoke. (Which, by the way, is an awful metric for whether something should be banned. Except for gun pointing.)


You should read the article, and my comment, a little more closely before responding. You're making a massive, unwarranted leap from "not a universal evil" to "must not have any legislation around it". I also don't think cars are pure evil....do you assume that I think that cars should be 100% unregulated? I'm specifically complaining about the maximalizing tendency of the author and others on this post: casting Facebook use as a pure vice, and ignoring the millions (hundreds of millions? I have no idea) of people who are able to get a very positive cost/benefit out of responsible use of it. Your cigarette analogy is apt in that I think that way of tobacco: I have a cigar a few times a year, and I think that the notion that tobacco is some evil force that we have to ascetically shy away from is idiotic[1].

> Which, by the way, is an awful metric for whether something should be banned

Dude, seriously, _what are you talking about_? At no point did I mention anything about banning Facebook or anything else. I don't know whose post your comment is supposed to be responding to, but just FYI you clicked "reply" under mine for some reason.

The point I am making is that "Facebook use" and "unhealthy Facebook use" are not the same thing, and the tendency I am criticizing is writing articles about the latter and bait-and-switching them to be about the former. I can use my phone to call a drug dealer, I can use my car to hit a pedestrian, I can use my computer to harass people online: and yet nobody considers those to be indictments of the overall concept of phones, cars, or computers.

--- Leaving aside the fact that your cigarette example doesn't make any sense:

Which cigarette legislation in particular are you thinking of? I'm of the same mind as the rest of society when it comes to kids being protected and having less autonomy in their decision-making, so not being able to advertise cigarettes to kids is obviously good. I'm not opposed to Pigovian taxes to balance externalities, especially when harm scales with amount of use and has significant enough externalities (like second-hand smoke), so the taxes on cigarettes don't bother me either. I think that there's some scope for paternalistic legislation of activities that don't harm others, but I think the bar has to be pretty damn high and pretty damn robust for that.


Some interesting points, but I think you put a lot into my comment that wasn't there. I suspect it will be impossible for us to communicate empathetically as we have both apparently misunderstood each other.


I think cigarettes should be legal for adults in private. I think it shouldn't be legal to smoke in public (because that's affecting other people), or to require employees to work in a smoky environment without protection. I'm not sure if there's a useful Facebook analogy there.


For sure, Facebook allows you to keep up with distant family and friends. But my take is that devoting a lot of mental and emotional energy to distant relationships comes at the expense of time that could be spent developing local relationships, which can be more important.

I think a good metaphor is after you've broken up with someone, it can be healthier not to hold onto to a lot of photos, memorabilia, and so on associated with your ex. It's not that you are throwing your ex away; you're making room for a new person.

I've sometimes observed people are so caught up in the lives of old school friends, old colleagues, family and such that they don't have room for new, local relationships.

I think many people can use Facebook in a healthy way. The same can be said of alcohol, video games, reddit, and Internet news feeds. But, for many others, all of these can become damaging addictions. A lot depends on the individual at hand.


One of the problems too is that it makes it more difficult to distinguish who is actually interested in being a close friend with you and who is only interested in being a casual relationship.

To give just one example - in the past, you might have gotten birthday e-mail from a few people. You would have a sense that these people thought about you enough to pay attention to your birthday and contact you. Likewise, if you cared about someone enough, you could do the same and signal that you thought of them highly as a friend.

But now you have Facebook asking everyone your connected with to leave a birthday message on your birthday. I've seen people who's Facebook accounts seem to clearly be dead, but they keep getting the same dozen birthday greetings each year from the same people who actually don't care enough about the person to notice they're no longer on.

And since the Facebook birthday seems to be the way a lot of people think about their friend's birthdays these days, not participating means that you're going to get much fewer birthday greetings than you would have in the pre-Facebook days.

Again, this is just one example, but I think it does a decent job of illustrating how Facebook has supplanted a lot of more substantive communication and replaced it with copious amounts of junk food communication.


> But my take is that devoting a lot of mental and emotional energy to distant relationships comes at the expense of time that could be spent developing local relationships, which can be more important.

This implies that one replaced the other, or that one can be brought about by eliminating the other.

IMNSHO, this is a form of false nostalgia: I saw how much of my parent's generation lived: for most people, social networks haven't replace real world socializing.


Sounds like we lived differently than you did -- My parents had people over to play cards and other games on many nights. Or we would go over to someone else's house. On nights when it was just the family at home, we played card games and board games. We also went for bikes rides, went out for ice cream, went on hikes. We threw frisbees, played soccer and football, on the weekends, we'd go skiing, fishing, camping. We spent many evenings out with our own friends as well, once we turned about 7 or 8, and the neighborhood kids would all run around in a pack together. As for knowing what everyone else is up to, photos would come in the mail, along with letters. When we did get together, slide shows would ensue. Phone calls were the primary way to keep in touch with family and friends, and my older relatives still maintain a weekly call with everyone in the family.

Sure, TV as a time waster also existed. And most people did spend some nights watching it. But it was not all night, every night. At least not for the majority of people.


> On nights when it was just the family at home, we played card games and board games. We also went for bikes rides, went out for ice cream, went on hikes. We threw frisbees, played soccer and football, on the weekends, we'd go skiing, fishing, camping. We spent many evenings out with our own friends as well, once we turned about 7 or 8, and the neighborhood kids would all run around in a pack together.

I'm pretty sure I'm doing more of that with Facebook than I would without it. Hiking trips, cycling trips, spontaneous picnics, parties, trips to a concert - Facebook makes it easier to organise those things, and means you stay in better touch with people with more common interests. Pre-Facebook it was easy to do the common things that a critical mass of people liked, but much harder to do any kind of slightly niche social activity.

The time that I spend on Facebook is time that would have been wasted otherwise (mainly on my commute). It's not taking away from quality time.


The average household in 1985 was watching 7 hours of television per day. I don't imagine that left much time for board games and bike rides.


Why did you ask what people did before Facebook, if your intent was simply try to discredit a genuine response with statistics?

Do the math. 17 hours per day with the TV not turned on. And even the hours it was on doesn't mean the whole family was watching. Let also consider how many people watched the news every night, and stayed up for Carson. And an hour of TV after school was probably the norm. Soap operas also were popular in the 80s. Tack on an hour of MTV somewhere in the day, and that just about accounts for the average even before we consider how we spent our evenings.

There was plenty of time for all kinds of things.


Not if you discount 8h for sleeping!

Then you only got 16h left...minus 7h of watching TV leaves 9h...most people work 8h and in 1985 had a 40m or so commute to work...if you are still counting: we just hit about 0!

Sorry...that’s how statistics work. That not to discount cute edge cases of families playing cards with their neighbors and having ice cream...it’s just not the reality for the majority of the population :(


You are thinking per person. The statistic is per household.


> What did people in my situation do before Facebook?

I dunno, maybe pick up the phone and have an actual conversation?

> My parents, like most baby boomers I suspect, weren’t going out in the evenings to see friends in person.

What the... what is this? It's like some bizarre propaganda written by Zuck himself.

> That’s what Facebook is replacing, and it’s a huge improvement.

Yeah, better to observe your friends from a distance like some kind of science project instead of having genuine interactions with them. Great improvement.


But you don't need Facebook for any of that. If you are truly really interested on what your family and friends are up to, message them, call them up or use video chat. That way you can have a direct and personal communication with them, which is more important to human relationships than the passive mass consumption of whatever content, good or bad, they are spitting out on their feed.


People with children generally move to the suburbs because urban developers aren't really building family friendly housing and its hard to be social with the suburban model, which is that you get a lot of space but you therefore don't have very many neighbors and you aren't within walking distance of the town center.

Your TV comment reminds me that one of the biggest shows was "Cheers" where you kinda get to feel like your hanging out with people your age.


Walkability only applies to the small set of rich people who live in the most expensive part of the city. Growing up in the suburbs, we'd frequently visit family friends clear across the metro area. It would take at worst 15 minutes to drive to and park at their houses for dinner parties. The geographically closest person I know in San Francisco is around 2 miles away, and that's 40+ minutes on foot or more by bus (off commute hours so low frequency, no express service, etc).


I travel quite a lot and have friends in different countries. I don't really see the need the care about their daily live. However i love to just show up and give them a call and have hours of stuff to talk about.

I think this is just biased on beeing used to the 'Facebook way' outside of this bubble your arguments just sound strange. (like why would I care what they cook or how their children look right now?)


People in your situation before Facebook probably:

1) Socialised with local friends

2) Interacted with remote friends via the telephone

People in your situation before phones probably:

1) Socialised with local friends

2) Interacted with remote friends via the mail/telegram

3) Didn't have that many remote friends due living in an era that provided less opportunities for long-distance travel

People in your situation before telegrams/mail:

1) Socialised with local friends

2) Didn't usually have any remote friends due living in an era that provided less opportunities for long-distance travel and/or communications

I think if you will do some reading you'll discover that life proceeded quite handily prior to the availability of long distance communications and/or travel to the general populace.


> Their social lives were narrow, focused heavily on home life and the kids. That’s what Facebook is replacing, and it’s a huge improvement.

Is it really tho? I'm not even conservative, I just think that there's certainly something to be said about a social life focused on the kids and home life, instead of replacing that with hollow attention seeking on Facebook.

What it's being replaced with? People who post pictures of their children, which to many is often the whole extent of the interaction with their kids; Just another prop to collect likes on FB.

I admit that's just my anecdotal personal experience from a really bad case, I still think it's a very relevant angle to this as many people do use Facebook as a form of escapism from reality.


I have to agree with you here. Although an interaction via Facebook doesn´t come close to a personal one, I still think it is beneficial in some ways. Of course especially when you´re far away from the people you want to connect with. I use Facebook for work and personally. But for me, it has become more of a news feed than actual communication with friends. My inner circle and acquaintances I tend to have regular contact with both have my phone number and can either call me or Whatsapp me.


That used to be the case for me, but now a lot of that energy moved to WhatsApp (which is also Facebook, but a different product). It's better in every way -- the communication is private, it's two way so people feel closer, and I don't get overwhelmed by memes and ads.

This probably couldn't have happened without Facebook proper (now my parents are on WhatsApp), but I think mobile chat groups are a much better form-factor for the type of communication you want.


Facebook is smart to have diversified by satisfying both markets.


Facebook exists because it works for a section of the population. I do not like it. I do not use it. If someone likes it, I let them use it. I throw in a word of caution regarding privacy concerns etc. I, however, do not expect them to honor my views.


Gee, sounds like you shouldn’t have had kids if you wanted to fly into Chicago or New York every night. Having children is a choice. Looks like you’ve made yours.


Yes, and before recent innovations in prescription drugs, all that people had was heroin.

That's what fentanyl and oxys are replacing, and it's a huge improvement.


>That’s what Facebook is replacing, and it’s a huge improvement.

The frame of reference of TV might not be the right one. I think the counterfactual scenario is a better comparison point. We should consider what the internet and social media COULD have been had it not been monopolized by a handful of closed, ad-tech motivated platforms.

The internet before Facebook was still a social place that fostered connections between people. I made friends all over the world through UseNet, IRC, PHPBB forums, personal blogs like Xanga or MySpace, and other such platforms. But those weren't conducive to collecting data or serving advertising, so we they fell behind on investment, development, and market penetration.

Even Facebook didn't used to focus on a feed on informations shoved in your face, that was the ad platform they built on top of it. It used to be a collection of personal profile pages, essentially a mini-bio to look people up on. They had associated forum groups you could make/sign up for to socialize with individual groups of people. They've since turned those from conversational groups into "pages" that you subscribe to, better to have content pushed at you but less good at fostering conversation among people.

There are still good group-chatting platforms for actual friends to talk to each other. I keep in touch with my family around the world through WhatsApp (since colonized by Facebook natch). I maintain friendships with people from my MMO days through GroupMe. And I hear the kids today are all about Discord. These all facilitate more human-to-human interactions than platforms like Facebook or Instagram do, IMO.

Discussion forums maintain a persistent sense of identity for the participants so you interact foremost with a person and secondarily with whatever they happen to be saying at a given time on a given topic. Stuff like Facebook privileges content first, so the focus is on the message itself and secondarily on the person making it (good for marketing, bad for socializing).

Even discussion forums like HN or Reddit focus on content over identity. The old PHP forums had avatars and garish signatures and a whole bunch of other visual cues to give each speaker a distinct identity. Everything anyone said is strongly associated with an individual so you build up reputation and identity over time, which is essential for developing a form of community. Platforms like this make one person's comments indistinguishable from any other, so it becomes really hard to develop human connections with anyone.

You don't even need avatars and visual cues. IRC didn't have those, but what it did have was a requirement that someone had to BE IN THE ROOM to see what you're saying. So it's a vibe that's more like a conversation in a pub. You actually have to be aware of who is around and listening when you talk rather than screaming into a whirlwind of activity and seeing who replies. It's cozier. You're aware that you're talking specifically to a group of people that is around, which causes you to put yourself in their shoes when you talk rather than being all solipsistic.

And all of that is before we even get into the gross KPI-derived metrics (likes, shares, ratios, etc.) for evaluating our contributions that Facebook-style social media does which is a whole separate and disgusting thing.

<naravara has left the room>


Ever since deleting facebook I've felt so much ___. It's only once I quit the site I was able to take a long hard look at my perception of ____ and realized that everyone else does ____ while I should do _____. I realized that I'm actually ____, not ____. I started handling my _____ relationships in a healthier, more ____ manner.


I deleted my Facebook in 2010 and it stayed deleted until the end of 2016. Now I get invited to more events, my friends no longer feel like distant strangers when I see them for the first time in months and I know how all my family is doing. It really sucks seeing how much more of a life some people have through facebook but research is a lifestyle and I knew what I signed up for. Your miles may vary though as I have the discipline to not look at it every hour(not because I'm intrinsically any better than you but because I got used to running mental marathons for 6 years).


This is worrying from the perspective of Facebook having so much power. It sounds like in your case, the enjoyment of your life i.e. "get invited to more events" and indeed one of the lower 'needs' is enhanced by joining Facebook (and reduced by leaving it).

If Facebook is the Junk Food of Socializing, it is like a McDonalds that has successfully lobbied for a ban on the sale of home cookware, whilst buying out all the other restaurant chains.


>it is like a McDonalds that has successfully lobbied for a ban on the sale of home cookware

They've successfully lobbied to ban my personal website?


Yeah that comparison isn't really relevant. I believe it would be more like:

McDonalds has successfully convinced people that it's not worth cooking food at home anymore.


Darn imperfect analogies!


As someone toying with the idea of "getting back into" social media, how did you go about making your profile "normal"? I'm not the type to take tons of selfies, so do I just start out with a shitty profile picture? I feel like it'll look like a fake account, or me like a weird dude, compared to my friends who all have amazing profiles.

^^^ And this is the type of mentality that makes me not want to use social media :tm:.


I'm the complete opposite. I want to get back into facebook because I want other people to see all the cool stuff I'm doing and feed my ego, but I know that doing it would be inconsistent with my desire for a more free society, and I hate most people anyway.


There's only one thing a profile pic needs to do: reliably signal that this is the specific person of that name that people are looking for.

A reasonably well-lit picture of your face will serve admirably. Serious or happy or amused are good expressions; try not to look angry or sad. There, you're done.


It's not a big deal, just put as much as you're comfortable with, there's no such thing as "normal usage," everyone is different. I post updates only a few times a year and I don't post pictures. Nobody cares if you aren't using Facebook "enough."


I never post anything and it's a normal enough profile. I just interact with friends once in while via messages or by seeing posts from them.

You don't need to go all out on joining some imaginary race to the best profile. No one cares.


I hardly ever think about how many reactions I get relative to how many my friends get, because different people have different numbers of friends and friendship patterns. It's not a score and I don't know anyone who treats it that way other than people in their teens or involved in marketing.


I confess, most of what I consume via the internet is of little use to me. Sure, some of it might be interesting; some of it my present itself as relevant; but most of it (the truth is) life would go on without it.

Don't take this the wrong way, but push come to shove, HN falls into this low truly impactful life nutrition as well. This is not a critique. It's just that despite my semi-best attempts the signal to noice ratio remains suboptimal.


I have the same sentiment with my own internet habits. Could I be doing something more useful? Totally. I could be going on a walk, reading a book, or practicing a hobby. However, I don't think it's too harmful to stroll through the same rolodex of websites as a form of leisure even if the content provided doesn't nourish the mind and the body. If I'm being honest with myself, I'd find another vapid avenue of entertainment had I no access to the internet. The concerning aspect with social media (and online content in general) is the constant desire to check back in on relatively frequent intervals. I try and stay away as often as I can but I still sense that pull to check in..


Don’t be so apologetic, HN shouldn’t care if you think it’s trash.


Please don't put words in my mouth. It said nothing of the sort.

The message is this: What so often (read: too often) masquerades as meaningful and of substance - in the grand scheme of things - really isn't. It creates a self-serving blind-spot. And thus reactions such as yours.


FB definitely adds much more value to my life than HN or reddit.


Absolutely spot on. I hope one day we'll have better ways to filter out meaningful posts and comments out of the noise.


Yes. But it also takes self-filtering. You have to forces yourself to "Just say/do no." :)

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE to learn new things. But I'm finding - as I look in the mirror - that I'm picking up too much (what amounts to) trivia. And that the human connects are far from legit.

But this is my doing. I've forgotten to say "no thank you." But admitting I have the problem is my first step to addressing it.


So as a girl working in tech, all I remember about facebook back when I had one was everytime a new girl started working at our company, all the guys flocked to one guys computer and they stalked the crap out of her one Facebook, and by the time she walked through the door they knew who she was dating, had already decided he wasn't good enough for her and were already in competition to date her and trying to woo her by pretending to have all the same interest and the poor girl is like first day on the job and she thinks shes going to have a normal life.

I've seen this happen at three tech companies multiple times at each so I'm not willing to entertain the group of guys who I KNOW are going to comment on this and say "well not every guy is like that". True, but it only takes a few at every company to make a girl feel like a targeted object more than an employee.

Once the facebook search came out (way after I got rid of it) I was a manager managing about 25 guys in my tech firm and they used to use the facebook search to search by age, relationship status of all the females in the company constantly on the prowl.

Was so gross and terrifying and made me happy I didnt have one.

Another time about three years after college a guy I had never seen or met before came up to me at a restaurant and started blabbing on about my life, asking me if I was still dating that deuschbag from college and openly admitted who knew all of this from my facebook back in college and asked me what I was up to now. I mean wow, couldn't possible be more happy that people DON't know what I'm up to.

Not to mention old guys are creepy and use it to stare at all the bikini pics of their friends daughters.

I wish I could be ignorant and dumb enough to not know all this but unfortunately I work with a bunch of creepy men twice my age in tech for years now and they assume I don't notice these things.

If you are a girl in tech, youre better off not having a facebook, you honestly cannot even begin to fathom how many men are keeping tabs on you.

and here come the downvotes....


> and here come the downvotes....

I'm not a mod but I'll still say that this is frowned upon. Wrt the downvote itself, I promptly rewarded you with mine for your representing of stalking as a male only phenomenon. This blanket statements blaming men for everything really grosses me out and does not help at all with the feminist cause. Saying "hey you're all nasty pigs" is not persuasive at all, especially when I at the receiving end of the attack am not at all guilty of what you blame every single person with.


That's not just the tech industry. I've never worked in a place that it doesn't happen. I've uncomfortably watched it in the past but took a hard line when a female coworker's first question to me about my new hire was: "Is she hot?"

I responded rather abruptly and forcefully so that everyone within earshot could hear: "She's quite good at what she does."


Interesting article, and I'm usually a fan of Nautilus pieces, but isn't this a bit obvious? Almost like 2017 is getting to be the year it's fashionable to poo poo social media (and Facebook in particular). Haven't used the site since about 2010 'cause the rank smell of the Skinner box made my nose curl from afar.

I'm baffled that psych studies have to be referenced for people to see the obvious; and I'm certainly not on a higher plane of self-aware existence, either.


What makes you think that this is obvious?

People come to different conclusions even when presented the same facts. In a case like this, they don't even have the same fact, nor the same background or even the same age (to a teenager Facebook is a completely different place than for an adult).


Isn't it obvious, that some people might not see the obvious, like the fact that social media is bad for your health?


It's not obvious.

The fact that sugar and refined carbs (pasta/rice/bread) is bad for you is not even obvious to most people.


Life is bad for you.

Did you know oxygen was once a terrible, toxic substance that was "bad for you"? [0]

It still is, to some degree. But cheap sources of energy always win in the end.

My point is that we (as humans) suck at processing some things and appreciating the true timescale of optimization. Our bodies fight old cargo cult wars, an exercise in wanton complexity. Hardly an argument against change.

I suspect the same applies to the "badness" of junk food and social media, except it has accumulated less baggage and hence can steer faster.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event


> I'm baffled that psych studies have to be referenced for people to see the obvious

A lot of "the obvious" is wrong. Studies can help us determine whether it's actually right or wrong.

Pretty much any bit of knowledge we've accumulated over the centuries contradicts things that people thought were "obvious".

As an aside, I'm kinda amazed how common this "what's the point of studying something that's obvious" attitude is. You hear it anytime there's any research done on something that people take as "obvious".


It's only fashionable on HN; where once a week a new link to an old page about how bad Facebook is gets resurrected.

(Mostly) Regular people - those most likely to use Facebook - aren't hearing these cries.


I believe people finally got the point that all their "social engagement" is pretty useless.


So what is useful in your life?


Good question. Posting on Twitter it surely is not. I enjoy going out and meeting friends. Either for sports and tech meeetups.


This article was written in 2015, where it was less fashionable to poo poo Facebook.


Suggestion: go to church.

It’s a built in community of people who are likely there because of ritual and tradition (am Catholic) and do not care about talking about startups or entrepreneurship (a breathtaking relief sometimes).

Church and religion has gotten a lot well-justified complaints over the years, but by liberal and moderately-conservative people abandoning it in droves, it only made it more conservative and dogmatic sadly.

Also if you think “hey I can’t go to church they don’t believe in XYZ” just know that something like 40%+ of priests believe that gay marriage is possibly within the church’s right to support (again citing Catholic stuff here), so there is a lot more support than you think but political change is hard and it’s harder if you stay home.

Also I will say that it’s almost “cool” to go to church now. It’s been, again for good reasons such as pointless cultural battles in the 90’s that American churches waged, cool to not do religious stuff but now it’s so passé. Whenever I see a person railing against religion on Reddit I can’t help but think they are exactly the person we could have used in the 1920s at the Snopes Trial, but otherwise their viewpoint is entirely unhelpful and conformist today.


I respect your suggestion, but sadly have found myself moving in the opposite direction lately.

My wife's parents are strongly religious. When my 5 year old son stays over he gets a good dose of creationism. I've always thought that that was fine. Its not my belief but I don't see why people can't hold different beliefs. I enjoyed the idea that he could make up his mind on his own.

But lately, its become apparent that for many church-goers, they aren't prepared to (or able to) hold contrasting positions in their heads. Most specifically, I don't see why people can't maintain their belief in god, but at the same time understand that its man that has to rescue himself from the wreckage we are inflicting on the planet.

I've now reached the stage where I need to tell my son that his grandparent's beliefs are fairy tales, because I really fear the danger that is being wrought by people who hold zealous, single minded views. Certainly not all religious people are like that - but it increasingly seems that many are.


I'm always sad when I read something like this. If believing in God and protecting the planet or accepting basic science are contrasting ideas, then your wife's grandparents are believing in a caricature, not God.

But I think you can do better than just saying "these are fairy tales". I recently read a book from a former atheist (Jennifer Fulwiler) who came from a very loving and intellectually honest family. Her father said this when she was young: "Make sure you don't start believing things just because someone says it's true, even if it's coming from me. Question everything." I wish more people would be like that, atheist and religious alike.


That first paragraph is emblematic of the thing that most worries me about using religious groups as the core of one's social life. It may come from a well-intentioned place, but people are way too quick to resort to outright denigrating other people's beliefs in a way that, at best, infantilizes them with descriptions like "fairy tale" and "caricature". (There's not a whole lot of semantic distinction between these two characterizations.) Because of the ways that group behavior and peer pressure work, that will only get magnified if most your social life revolves around people who share identical beliefs.

There need to be more social institutions that encourage different people from different backgrounds to come together and learn to be more respectful of one another. How about a renaissance for bowling leagues?


How about a renaissance for art?


> Also if you think “hey I can’t go to church they don’t believe in XYZ”

What if that "XYZ" is the god that the church believes in? Or no god at all? I really wish there was an alternative to "go to church", because I do agree with you on the community aspect. To me it's just a shame that probably the most efficient way of connecting with people is still via religious beliefs.


There is an old joke that Wikipedia doesn’t work in theory but it does in reality. In the same way, Church’s don’t make a lot of sense but they’ve worked for thousands of years. I kind of think of it as a thing like the family, which also doesn’t make sense in some regards, but it’s proven its “value”. I hate using that argument because you could argue for a lot of stupid things that way, but it’s one way of looking at the situation.

Also I noticed you used the word “efficient”. What if meeting people is supposed to be inefficient, what if “efficiency” in meeting people is the worst possible thing to “optimize” for. Sometimes when meeting people is slow, when you’re forced to get along because “oh man this guy goes to the same church and could tell on me if I’m rude and whatever he’s the most interesting person I’ve met so far” you force yourself to discover better understandings and deeper connections with people. Maybe that in the end is what religion is about.

EDIT: Also something beautiful about being connected to the humans of thousands of years ago and doing similar rituals as them. The connection to human ancestry, sometimes more so than god, is another beautiful thing about religion. Even among the Chinese, which is not a very theistic society, this is noted in their traditions of ancestor shrines and worship


I feel like you didn't answer the main question. What if I recognize the potential value in all of the things you mention, but don't believe in God and don't want to lie to people about it?


You don't have to lie to people. You can go to church and not believe. I know several people that do that.

So, I'm assuming that you also have some qualms about how Facebook or Google does business?

Does that mean you refuse to use Facebook or Google?

By using commercial services, you are actually supporting them financially. You can go to most any church without donating anything at all.


> You don't have to lie to people. You can go to church and not believe. I know several people that do that.

Interesting. In my (predominantly Catholic) country, people do that for weddings and funerals, it's widely accepted and in fact it would look radical to stay out of a wedding for not believing. But I don't think non-believers going to "regular" mass is a common thing, I think it would be seen as odd and probably not very welcome by the believers.

Also, one of the main prayers said in Catholic mass starts with "I believe in God, the Father Almighty". So consciously being in a group that says that looks literally like lying to me, even if it's a white lie.


It's not really a question of the church's "business". It's that I do not believe in God, and lying to people about something that central to their identity seems like a bad thing to do. I'm skeptical that I'd be accepted in the vast majority of churches as an open nonbeliever without continual attempts to "convert" me [1], particularly in the area where I live. I've heard of churchgoers and even priests/pastors who are atheists, but very few ones who are actually open about it to their congregation.

[1] Incidentally, it's not that I'm not open to changing my beliefs, it's that (in my experience) believers are aggressively awful at converting nonbelievers. In many cases they don't even accept that it's possible to be a nonbeliever, immediately falling into "angry at God" tropes.


I know of some people who go to church even though they don't believe, and it seems to work for them. For a lot of people, though, that becomes extremely uncomfortable. You say you don't have to lie to people, and maybe that's the case, but I suppose it depends on one's definition of a lie.

Given a prayer to a god one doesn't believe in feels dishonest for some, as does nodding along and letting people assume you share their beliefs when you don't. The foundation for church is supposed to be a shared theological belief, so it's not too difficult to understand why some might be uncomfortable joining when they know that they don't share the belief and have to go through certain motions to conceal this fact from their brethren.


Then go to a Unitarian Universalist church?

"Unitarian Universalists believe that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues, such as the existence, nature, and meaning of life, deities, creation, and afterlife." -Wikipedia


It would be nice to see people work on some alternatives to traditional churches. We tried creating a scientific pantheism[1] group a while ago and there was a decent amount of interest, but at some point it became clear that continuing it really required more time than any of us was able to put in. We might try something like that again some day; I definitely think there's a lot of untapped potential out there.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_pantheism


https://www.sundayassembly.com/faq

>What is Sunday Assembly?

>Sunday Assembly is a secular community that meet regularly to celebrate life. Our motto is “Live Better, Help Often and Wonder More” and our mission is to help everyone live life as fully as possible.

>What happens at a Sunday Assembly?

>A Sunday Assembly service consists of songs (pop songs mainly) sung by the congregation, a reading (usually a poet), an interesting talk (that fits into live better, help often or wonder more), a moment of reflection and an address, which sums up the day and hopefully gives a take home message. Afterwards we have tea and cake (well, in Britain anyway!) to encourage people to stay and mingle with one another. Outside of the event we organise small groups (Smoups), and other social activities such as book clubs and choir, peer-to-peer support and local volunteering.


What if I can’t go to church because I can’t forgive them for protecting priests who raped children? How did you get past that?


Try a different church, Buddhist and Quaker churches are great for left-leaning people.


It's naive to think they all were protecting people like that.


I believe most people leave church / christianity because they are not religious. In my country it's like ~80%+ atheists so religious people are really uncommon, unless you are talking about muslims.

It is not cool to go to church because it's still a terrible ideology for society.


Facebook shouldn't be used to replace social interactions, it should be used to augment them.

It is easy to make facebook bad, and that's a problem, but its a problem that all social sites have. If you go to a message board and that message board has frequent posters who pride themselves in stirring the pot to increase activity, it might be good short term, but long term its a poor habit for those posters and its a miserable experience for other users.

If you use facebook as an outlet for negativity you'll find that misery loves company. If you use facebook to interact with people in comments, but don't interact in real life it will turn hollow at some point.

I feel like there are two problems. First is that people prefer to vilify facebook than to offer solutions to whatever problem they are facing. Second is that there is no roadmap to steering one's own facebook experience into a positive one once it has gone south.

For instance... if in 2016 you were active in politics because of the election, it's likely that you still have a bunch of political discussion and news within your news feed and ads. And all of that is increasingly negative and polarizing as those businesses and interests try desperately to maintain your mindshare. If you want to get rid of it, there is no preference. You have to train it with your newfound lack of interest. You have to fix your own behavior, facebook doesn't have a way of fixing it for you.

The same kind of thing applies to real social interactions. If you isolated yourself into online-only interaction or online-centric interaction, you have to change. But how? Well, it's not that hard if you put thought into it, but few people actually put any thought into it.

I don't know what facebok or any platform can do to resolve this problem. Maybe there's a secondary niche market for online social coaching or profile fixing.


I use the http://www.fbpurity.com/ extension to micro-manage what shows up on my newsfeed.

"Junk food" is probably putting it nicely, many skip straight to comparing to one of various illicit drugs.


I think cigarettes are a great comparison. I heard it a few years back.

When popular, a huge amount of the population used cigarettes despite growing research showing that it had a slight but consistent harmful effect. A hooked individual is unlikely to stop using even when given this evidence, as the product is addictive and gets stronger with network effects. Younger generations understood the harm better and had to avoid regular temptation to engage.

Comparisons to heroin are overblown. Nobody is losing their identity, money or life due to facebook. It's just a little bad and very addictive.



Would you use an alternative to facebook if...?

* It was free of advertisements

* Posts were fully encrypted so even facebook couldn't see read them

  Meaning:

    * There's no public posting

    * They can't data mine

    * They can't sell your data
* You could create different user groups to post to

* Everyone in a group had their own server side and/or local copy of all posts to that group

* You could unfriend or ignore users

* You could create filters by users or groups and keep them off your main "timeline" (also complex filters based on attributes like title, content, photos)

* You could delete your copy of posts but not other people's copy

* You could easily download all the data including posts and pictures any time you want

* You could easily set up internal or private "facebooks" on your own servers

* If you forget your password, there's no recovering anything.

* You don't need a separate app for private messaging


I don't want user groups where people can discuss.

I'm extrovert and I'm drawn to comment sections of everything. As a result I get stuck on facebook comment sections. And this kills the time I would use for face to face socializing.

Here I am, writing to comment section...


* My friends were also on it

Then yes


I have deactivated FB since last Jan. Never felt any urge to return. But Reddit seems to be hard to quit as the majority of the time it delivers the garbage disguised as information. As a person who was on FB only for news feeds, Reddit seems to be the perfect shelter for me.


Anyone who choses to use FB is just not thinking. I could get joining Instagram, Snapchat, etc b/c of friends. But even if you don't care about privacy, don;t care about algorithms censoring human expression, and don't care about unauthorized physiological experiments to influence your emotions, why would you choose a platform with tons of ads, a terrible UI that fills up timelines with every time someone uploads a new profile, is slow as hell, and is a haphazard mess of sloppily assembled groups with all-caps titles. It's not attractive. It's not addictive. It's both morally and graphically disgusting at every level.

I'm beginning to think the latter is intentional, just like scam email with copious misspellings.


> Anyone who choses to use FB is just not thinking.

One of the answers to your implied question is events. I belong to one of many, many subcultures who organize almost exclusively through facebook. This one happens to be related to dancing.

There are around 5 weekly events held regularly, along with a number regular of monthly-ish classes and around one special event per month held locally. Facebook is just way better than the alternative (meetup), and better than the old way (email lists).


The downside is getting tagged every few hours by some dance promoter. In London there are numerous (3-4 at least) events for every night of the week, just for a single dance style, and all the promoters want my attention.


I get tired just thinking about 5 dance events per week.


How it's better than email list? Getting an email event invitation once in a while looks way better than checking Facebook's spammy notifications every day to see if something is coming up.


> How it's better than email list?

1. Organizers can update events instead of sending a new message

2. Organizers get to see a list of people who claim they're going

3. The message thread and images associated with events are much easier to deal with instead of throwing everything into one big slush pile that is an email list.

4. It makes much more sense to create events way ahead of time (think a year out).

5. It's easier for participants to see which events their friends are going to.

Ultimately, email just isn't very good for a number of use cases and events is one of them. These are also some of the same reasons why people started using wikis or sharepoint instead of email.


I think many people have a more spammy mailbox than their facebook notifications.


I also dont get all that hate either. Just use it as a tool for what its good for. For me that is mainly to stay in the know about (1) events hosted by friends, (2) activities in common interest groups, (3) the life of friends and family overseas.

- Dont use your real name, gender, nationality, etc. Just create a random identity.

- Dont post pictures, ask friends to not post pics of you. Remove all tags. NEVER EVER POST PICS OF YOUR KIDS.

- tailor your news feed: Aggressivly remove/unfollow people/groups that add only trivial noise and no interesting content. In doing so, I actually started to enjoy my thinned out feed.

- comb through your friend list once a year (I always do after New Years) and clean house. Some people collect friends like trophys and are proud of their 1254 contacts. Instead, do the opposite: Try to keep it as small as possible. Ask yourself, do I really need and care for this contact? Remove people that do not add value to your life.

- Dont use the messanger app. Turn off all notifications.

EDIT: Why jump through all these hoops? FB gives me a unique value. The trick is to fold all the virtual social network back into real life. This is especially useful when you are in multiple disjunct groups. Most of my social activities are organized through FB:

- arrange the next casual soccer kick

- see when is the next social dance and who is going

- friend organizes a christmas dinner party

- other friend goes to a science slam, I might join

- who wants to go bouldering this weekend?

- see this neat trick in the "Upcycling" group how to reuse an old ...

- oh, this old cafe in my borough is getting kicked out. Friends are organizing a solidarity march.

Since almost everybody is on it, organizing/getting this info would be so much harder without FB.

I also like to keep people in my feed that have a contrairian view point to mine. Keeps you sharp and sometimes you learn that your viewpoint might not have the best argument...


> Ask yourself, do I really need and care for this contact? Remove people that do not add value to your life.

I do a different test. It's called "Do you care about me?"

If I got in a car crash over the weekend, would you even know? If you found out, would you visit me in the hospital?

If the answer is yes: but they're family, I already have their contact info. For non-family, that group fluctuates, and more often than not, it's zero. I'm fine with the number staying there. Benefits include: Less drama, breakups, regrets, and more time to get work done.

If the answer is no, which it mostly is: I feel I save time and am more self-honest not connecting with them.

But as I get closer to 30 I feel less interest in connecting with others. The only exception is when I travel abroad and the surroundings are more intriguing.

On the other hand: Social media is a great marketing tool. I'm fine if people use Facebook however they choose. And I also agree with pruning boring content in favor of subscribing / liking manually.


Organizing your life to minimize "drama, breakups, [and] regrets" and maximize "time to get work done" is a good way to end up unhappy and lonely.

Work is important, but your work can't love you back.


> Work is important, but your work can't love you back.

Work is where we spend the majority of our time and I suspect that >50% of adult friendship originates at work. It is important to think of work as a social activity and put some effort. Even if you are very much a "work to live" person, it is worth knowing your co-workers well enough to decide if you want to pursue them as friends.


I am awake for approximately 112 hours a week, only 40 is spent at work. That's only 36% of my time spent at work, that's not even including vacations. Very far from the majority of my time.

If you consider time spent at work as a "social activity" I would suggest spending more time working while at work.

Most people do not meet their good, actual, lasting friends at work, usually work friendships are pretty superficial. Most fade once you aren't required to see each other every day.


> Organizing your life to minimize "drama, breakups, [and] regrets" and maximize "time to get work done" is a good way to end up unhappy and lonely.

I feel that's the mentality pressuring people into social networks that otherwise wouldn't use them. Appealing to stuff like status, happiness, and so on.

And I don't think it works out in practice. I think putting social stuff, especially facebook on the back burner, and investing in accomplishments as a primary goal, is the best life choice.

As far back as history goes, people have both sought and claimed to have the answers to happiness. I don't think relationships are going to give me that fulfillment in the end.

Look at celebs: despite their popularity, money, and status, they're prone to loneliness and unhappiness. I think there's more to the equation of fulfillment, and we're all looking to discover what works for us. I don't believe stuff like Facebook is the key, but if other's do, more power to them.


With all those caveats to keep in mind, and more caveats to come in the future as Facebook "evolves" ... isn't it much simpler not to subscribe to Facebook in the first place?


See my edit.


> I also dont get all that hate either.

Well, start with reading your list. That's a nice list of reasons to hate Facebook. People shouldn't have to tip toe around abusive data harvesting and dark patterns... Your list sounds like a symptom, not a solution.


Agreed, the first point reads like the OP is evading the Stasi

>Dont use your real name, gender, nationality, etc. Just create a random identity


Funny that you mention it. I actually grew up in East Germany before the wall came down.


Facebook has become something I absolutely can't stand. I have an account, but I very rarely even log in anymore. With ads, 'features stories', etc., the signal-to-noise ratio is just too low. Just perusing the news feed has become a chore, not to mention the privacy concerns.

I'd be willing to pay a small subscription fee for a social network that respects my privacy, doesn't track everything I do, and doesn't constantly bombard me with crap. Problem is, I'm in the minority. People everywhere claim to care about privacy but they actually don't :)


Thank you for sharing - just deleted the app off my phone. I hope one day, I can go without Facebook for a long period of time.


I just use Facebook as a public directory, to find people and exchange email ID's/numbers so that I can message them on, say, WhatsApp.

I find it better than connecting with people though Facebook. Facebook chooses what I get to see and not see, and I really don't care about the "news" or the memes from pages my friends and family like.


As with a lot of other issues these days, it feels like that people forget there is usually a middle ground between the extremes. FB like any other tool can be a good or bad thing.

I spent a bit of time thinking about what I want to get out of Facebook.

- Social pulse - What are people talking about these days?

- Interesting/new content/new perspective/taking advantage of the echo chamber etc

- Keeping track of the very few physically-distant people that I care about

- Share some content that I think people would benefit from and wouldn't come across otherwise

- Buying/selling rarely in the marketplace

- Quick diary where I can store stuff that I found interesting

I took a few steps to get what I wanted out of the platform.

- Follow only the people that post content I might be interested in. It includes people that somewhat think like me and some that have very different opinions.

- Follow some of the content aggregation sites

- I only post content that is fit for public consumption except when I rarely share a photo of my kids/family

- Moved the FB app from the first screen to the last

How it has helped me.

- Cut down my usage by about 90%

- I am less concerned about privacy issues when it comes to FB as there isn't much on there that I wouldn't say out loud in public

- I kinda get a broad spectrum of how people are feeling about an issue

- More quality content than I used to get before. One of my favourite features on FB is "Save post". When I have a few minutes, I find stuff from my saved list or Pocket to read/watch.

- I see more photos of the people that I actually like rather than memes and quotes

I am pretty okay with how social media is involved in my life now.


Nah the problem with Facebook is not that it makes it easy to socialize, it's that people aren't using it for that. Instead, all my friends keep sharing countless shit they find cool and posting their opinions on current events like anyone asked. Instead of posting about their actual lives. And then there's the sponsored shit you see on the feed no matter what.


There are different types of social interaction on Facebook between different generations, it seems. There are those who use it to keep up with other people and what they're doing, and then there's my generation (the 90s), where everyone tags each other in memes, and it isn't a very personal website.

Whereas there are points in this article that make sense, I don't really understand why they're singling out Facebook as toxic. For many, Facebook is just another feed and not necessarily for social media posts.


These anti Facebook and anti social media articles are so ubiquitous on hn now, that is starting to feel like a campaign. All too sudden, there is too many of them.


Anti-facebook articles have been common on HN for years, and it's particularly ubiquitous right now because of all the powerful negative influence it's having in politics.


> negative influence it's having in politics

Read, negative toward my side of the politics.


Media sources designed to target confirmation biases, echo chambers, and viral fake news are a negative influence in all politics.

Why do you think they mean only negative towards their side?


> Media sources designed to target confirmation biases, echo chambers, and viral fake news

So you mean basically every political campaigns? Not sure how in touch you are with local politics, but the local political TV ads I see every night have been like this for years


You're right, I mean (many) of those too. People have been discussing negative and positive effects (on all sides of the political spectrum) of television and TV ads for a long time.

Now we're discussing Facebook, because it just recently gained so much of this power, and it seems to be uniquely good at causing these negative symptoms.


i think it is just that we are witnessing how the national media moves into a story and then after the audience grows tired of it, they move on. we are particularly aware of this happening, because the "national discussion" has moved into talking about tech right now. in time, the conversation will shift onto something else.


When the world is screaming at you "You have been played" is quite a powerful statement.


Several times a day, I spend 5-15 minutes writing a facebook post, and 9/10 times I don't post them. They all seem like too "look at me", or I think the person won't think it's funny or clever. It's a giant waste of time, but I feel better than if I post them(or less bad). Help?


I used to do the same thing over and over, wasting extraordinary amount of time trying to come up with something memetic and charming that would somehow make other people think better of me. I have never been able to pin down why, how or in what way had I wanted them to "think better of me", it was like I had been made to believe in some mandatory social currency that everyone else had and I lacked which could only be gained on Facebook. Also, I was a socially-awkward 17 year old at that time so add in the usual teenage insecurities and vulnerability too.

The only solution I came up with was to quit cold turkey. Fortunately, I also moved to a different city at the same time; so, it was easy psychologically to say good bye to all those connections. It's been more than 5 years and I haven't used Facebook or Twitter since.

It might not be easy for you to do depending on your circumstances and honestly, some times it does lead to trouble when people use Facebook to plan or announce things that I get left out of. I did manage to find a few like minded friends though who don't use it either, so usually it's not that bad.

If you are really serious about this, quitting is the only solution I know of that works.


One can only imagine the damage that is yet to be done by applying machine learning to junk food design ...


Its a bad habit that I am still trying to quit: https://medium.com/@lifeinafolder/facebook-is-the-cigarette-...


Don't delete FB, juat understand what FB is designed for (releasing dopamine) and learn to deal with software which triggers dopamine release (best is to avoid them most of the day) and use its best parts: Messenger, birthday reminders and events.


Why do people pay articles like this any mind? It's just yet another moral panic over a technology that wound up not doing what the elite wanted. You could replace the subject with television or video games and the article wouldn't change all that much.


I have this year deleted FB, but not my account. This after noticing trends of tailoring the exact news that stimulates you the most from what it knows about you. I’m thinking most of this junk quite useless to me and is eating up a lot of valuable time.


Fast food serves a lot of purposes though. It's not healthy, but it feeds people, it's cheap and it lets you spend your time on something else.

Facebook really has few reasons to be around anymore outside the fact that it has a lot of users.


I'm not sure I'd agree that fast food is the same thing as junk food. There's nothing inherently unhealthy about food that has just been prepared quickly. Junk food doesn't feed you correctly, that's the point.


> It's not healthy, but it feeds people, it's cheap and it lets you spend your time on something else.

Yes, Facebook is the "bread and circus" of the modern world. Plus, it's a dream come true for intelligence agencies, as people build their own dossiers and then make them public (or keep them within Facebook, which is pretty much the same to the intelligence agencies).


And think of the healthcare consequences too



One thing conspicuously missing from that article is why there are food deserts to begin with. People love to decry food deserts but nothing will actually be done to solve them on a large scale without addressing the causes as to why they arise.

In my town the cause of the food deserts was the theft rates. There used to be groceries in the poor parts of town... It simply wasn't economical to keep them open because they couldn't make money doing so. I'm not blaming poor people for stealing per se (it's at least partly a symptom of poverty) but people make food deserts out to be some grand conspiracy on behalf of food companies when it's really caused by more emergent phenomena that are very hard to fix


> But it’s the visual equivalent of empty calories—delicious but not nutritious.

modern life #someta


Might I suggest a new alternative to Facebook, called "Path"? Path is a simple and beautiful space to capture and share everyday moments of your life with 5̶0̶ 1̶5̶0̶ any people who matter most to y̶o̶u̶ investors.


What are people even doing on facebook?

My friends at best post holiday photos or food... The rest is just spam, games, or those stupid quizzes things.

For more personal contact we have telegram and whatsapp groups.


Note that the only explicit mention of Facebook is in the title.


To like someone, stop reading their feeds.


Hmm, half of the links on nautil.us are currently broken.


Think the site is down


The title is a perfect metaphor.


what platforms fulfill the need for intellectual socializing? medium.com?


Give Metafilter a shot.


Says the article with a "Facebook" share button front-and-center at the top of the page.


But I like junk food.


The past 3 months, there hasn't been a single day on HN without a post attacking FB specifically or social media in general by news organizations or other "journalists/writers". Not only that, we get the same generic "I deleted facebook and I feel great" comments.

Certainly this isn't the work of the russian trolls. Then who or what is behind the constant "I hate social media" spam.


What if a lot of us actually hate social media.


Then why are you on hacker news - a social media site?

I've never had a facebook account. Not a fan of facebook or zuck. But doesn't mean I going to spam social media with "I hate social media" articles.


Get therapy for your anger issues?

I mean, you don't want to use it, don't. I stopped using FB for 5 years but I didn't lecture other people about it. Now I use it a lot and I don't demand that other people follow my lead.


I agree that FB can be a big time sink. Every time I consider removing FB from my phone, I realize how much I learn about marketing on FB from the ads I see and the groups to which I belong.

If your job involves online marketing, being on Facebook is almost like research for one's job. And without maintaining a connection to this world, it's easy to lose touch with what other marketers are doing and rely on blog articles -- which are, oftentimes, out of date and common knowledge by the time one comes across them organically.


In my experience, i tried to join facebook a couple of months ago and: a) It asked me for a lot of private information. I submit all of them. b) Then i entered. Facebook suggested me, a list of contacts. All of them are ugly people. c) And finally, facebook asked me for a real photo. I used a real photo the first time but i think facebook is a bit faulty.. d) The interface is a real mess.

Conclusion: i am seasoned with linkedin, where everybody is a "winner", may be not but they try to do that. In facebook its the opposite, everybody show the worst.


I’m confused about b)

Were you expecting Facebook to only suggest attractive people, if so why?


It's a reasonable assumption, given that their objective is to hook users for as long as possible.




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