Off Topic: Taming the Facebook Monster

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We love Facebook. We hate Facebook. It’s informative. It’s overwhelming. All true. I have discovered wonderful news and terrible news in my feed. Amid the selfies, the over-shared memes, and the political rants, Facebook shows us interesting articles and important events. And cat photos. One can’t have too many cat photos.

Blue wants to know what you are staring at.
Blue wants to know what you are staring at.

So how does one deal with the data flood? The magic word is


If you are the sort of person who can let it all stream past, rock on. I envy you. If you obsess over the need to read every post, unfollow is your best weapon.

Unfollowing Is Easy
How do I unfollow someone?
A few clicks on a person’s page and posts no longer show up in your feed. You are still friends. You can still visit your friend’s page. You can message. Most importantly, the folks you unfollow will not know. You can always go back to refollow if you change your mind.

Unfollowing Is Hard
People that annoy you are obvious. Out they go. The trick is to unfollow people you like. Perhaps you met a charming couple at a few club meetings, but they stopped attending before you could bond. Or that bright, funny woman who took a great job elsewhere. These are people you admire. You have fond memories. In a different setting, you might have become besties. But you didn’t. Wish them well and out they go.

It’s tough. You look at their pages. You think, Oh look, they have a new dog/haircut/funny cat meme. Maybe I should leave them in. Nope. Too many people of passing interest equals an out-of-control Facebook feed. This applies to groups & associations as well. Be ruthless.

My Criteria
How close are we? If we live in the same area, do we make an effort to get together? Or are we friends in a theoretical sense? If you live far away, would I fly to your town to donate a pint of blood?

How amusing are you? A side benefit of being a writer is that many of my friends are writers. This elevates the discourse on social media, or at least makes the banal more readable. Ditto photographers lending visual interest. Conversely, are you passionate about stopping animal abuse? About achieving political justice? Great. I should probably be more like you. You should probably take me to task for my sloth. But not over my breakfast oatmeal, please.

How often do you post? If I find you boring but you don’t bother me often, I’ll probably let you stay. I suspect I fall into this category for many of my acquaintances. I seldom post on Facebook. A daily blog is enough of me on the information superhighway. (Have you noticed we don’t hear that term anymore? But I digress.)

In Sum
I was surprised to find that Facebook agrees with me.

“We’re trying to encourage people to use the [unfollow] option more,” says Adam Mosseri, a product management director at Facebook. “We think it will make their experiences better and their feeds more relevant.”

The hope, of course, is that unfollowing friends you don’t want to hear from will give you a better News Feed, and a better News Feed means you’ll visit Facebook more often.

Facebook: Stop Fearing the “Unfollow” by Kurt Wagner, Re/code, Nov 7, 2014.

Have I unfollowed you? Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s me.

4 thoughts on “Off Topic: Taming the Facebook Monster

  1. Yes. All of this. I also unfollow friends who post constantly, as in multiple times every day. Only the very closest of those get to stay and I question that regularly too.

  2. I am trying to spend less time on facebook! I have unfollowed anyone who continually posts super negative stuff…because that kind of bums me out.

  3. We’ve all made Facebook a part of our lives; yet it’s free, or at least doesn’t cost money. This alternately amazes and appalls me. Someone somewhere is making money from us. Human nature hasn’t changed.

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