Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Facing the world through Facebook

I spend lots of time on Facebook these days. Too much, in fact. And it's not because I'm sharing the latest grandkid story or seeing friends' vacation photos, although those things do happen.

No, the extra time is because Facebook has become a source of information on endless topics, served up based on what you've already shown to be your interests. Some is from shaky sources (it's the internet, after all) but some is from news-gathering and news-reporting organizations with pretty solid fact-checking credentials.

So if a friend shares a link to a video in which scientists are literally watching part of an iceberg collapse into the ocean, and if I click "like" after reading it, Facebook will see that my newsfeed includes more stories about global climate change. Several friends share the latest quotes from Bernie Sanders, who has regularly opposed the way billionaire businessmen and corporations have bought influence with Congress at the expense of the middle class. Now when one of those quotes comes my way, Facebook also aggregates a handful of related stories, whether it's about regulating Wall Street or protecting health care or shifting our national priorities away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, renewable energy. And because I'm interested in all those things (and more), I read them, perhaps "like" them, and voila! I receive more of them.

This is not the only way my newsfeed fills up. One friend loves animals and every day sends a dozen items about endangered species living in protected habitats. She also sends a dozen cartoons. Some are genuinely funny, but to find out which ones, I'd have to read them all. Other friends send inspirational messages, stunning photos of exotic places, or political commentary from the left or the right. These are not their own writing or photos, they are simply passing along things they like. And I compound the traffic flow, because periodically I "like" a message that resonates, or a political cartoon that nails an event or situation in what strikes me as a very clever and insightful way. When I "like" something, my Facebook friends get the same message, and a line saying that I liked this. 

I can put an end to some of this traffic. I can tell Facebook that I no longer wish to see Minion cartoons, for example, or posts from other specific sources. I can even say I don't want to see posts from certain friends, and they'll never know. (In fact, I can continue to see a little preview of everything they have posted, just in case I want to check in sometimes.) So I'm about to regulate some of the volume.

But there's another aspect to all of this. I'm getting more and more information that documents ways in which we are losing natural resources that we need to survive as a species. Ways that our democracy is not living up to its promises. Ways that products we use every day--including food--are introducing poisons into our systems. Ways that progressives and conservatives misunderstand each other at the expense of social interaction and our governance. You get the idea.

We all have perspectives on these issues. A few of my blog friends write about them often, but most of us have chosen to focus on other things--daily life, families, books, aging, sometimes even religion. Anything but "politics." But I've been drawn to those social and political issues on Facebook.

Mostly, I read about them. My Facebook friends and I occasionally write a paragraph as an into to a link we are passing along, but we're not really having discussions there. It isn't a medium that encourages an individual user to write a thoughtful piece...blogging is better for that.

So I'm trying to decide whether to write a few pieces about my most pressing issues, and if so whether to post them here or open a new blog with a new name...because when I look at these issues I'm not exactly blissed out.


stephen Hayes said...

I think your blog can handle a rant or two without you having to give up your blissful status.

DJan said...

I agree with Stephen. You can do what you want here, whether or not it blisses you out. Are we FB friends? If not, please friend me at djanstewart (at) gmail.com so that I can make sure I'm not missing anything. I have liked Bernie and am truly hopeful that he will at least add some positivity to the Democratic ticket. And I look forward to your thoughtful take on our current situation(s). :-)

Linda Myers said...

I agree with Stephen and DJan. Please friend me. I'm Linda Granholm Myers.

joeh said...

I agree as well, or you could change the name to "Blissed -Out Grandma And Then Some."

Far Side of Fifty said...

I post only photos of my own to Facebook, I use it mainly to catch up with relatives. I had to block a bible thumping friend, she was quoting the Bible many many times a day...really she was over bearing so I blocked her. I hated to do it but I did. I also blocked a relative because of his bad language...I am his Godmother and will tell him when I see him next time in person.
I sometimes read the recipes...and I manage a local Swap and Shop Facebook site and have sold a number of things.."stuff"
I think any platform has it's ups and downs...I am too busy to get involved with Politics for gosh sakes it is still 2015 we have time:)

Jayne Martin said...

Comedian Elayne Boosler wrote a wonderful little song called "Facebook is a clocksucker." Can't tell you how many times a day I click on (just for a minute, I say) and then another 20 or minutes go by. My blog has been woefully neglected and I blame FB. Although, I do have a new rant up today -- about something I read on (you guessed it) Facebook!

Jeanie said...

I enjoy FB and if we aren't friends already (I don't see posts by you so I'm not sure without checking!) please friend me. Pick the one with my photo. The other is an account I had when working that I need to delete!

As for posting here, go for it! Look, the worst that can happen is that people gloss over it and move onto something else. They will be back because we like YOU and we like what you share. Your opinion matters. There's aggressive ranting (I hear a lot of that on FB and not fond of it) and intelligent, opinion sharing which is worthwhile whether or not one disagrees or agrees with you. As for dialogue, who knows if there will be discussion among readers, but I bet you'll have some interesting comments. (I agree -- FB is rarely the place for reasoned discussion!).

I'll look forward to it!

troutbirder said...

Interesting . I concluded early on Facebook was a waster of time. Perhaps it has some merit as you pointed out. I like to write but then I was a history teacher and we all know how they like to go on and on....:)

J said...

I think I would like to read anything you have to say! One of the best things about blogging has been the lovely grandmothers I have met. When they express their personal opinions I feel I know them even better. It's fun when I find we are in agreement about politics or religion, but if not, I respect their opinion anyway because I like them so much!
You have a lovely blog - do whatever makes you happy here!

Unknown said...

I agree with J -- do what makes you happy. Seems recently a lot of the Grandma bloggers that I know have grandchildren who are getting older and they don't spend as much time with their grandparents anymore. It often leads them to changing their blogs -- change is good! DO what makes you happy.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I have faced this problem myself. My blog is a place where I have avoided politics or issues in regard to women and our natural resources. But now I'm wondering if perhaps it isn't time to venture into those areas as I'm becoming more and more worried and frustrated with the handling of the issues before us. However, my blog has always been a safe place, too. Not certain I want to rock that boat.

I am on Facebook as Julie Sucha Anderson if you want to find me. Would love to see some of what comes from you there.

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Facebook is absolutely the biggest time suck of my day. :)
I use it the same as you do- blocking the ones that are drama seekers, or overly hateful about whatever position they are talking about, and I have even begun clicking off the news items I don't care anything about..most definitely anything to do with celebrities.

I don't see anything wrong at all with expressing your opinions on your blog- I think it's a great idea!

Green Monkey said...

I welcome it! This makes you seem more real to me. Did you ever read Bossy Betty's blog? Her posts were so sweet and light and then her marriage fell apart and she blogged about that (without giving details). I think she gained a lot of support from being open - I know I do!


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