I don’t want to talk about Trump except to say that he lost his election and attempted to overthrow the federal government with the help of an angry mob of violent morons and most Congressional Republicans. And also to say that on Wednesday, Facebook made the decision not to reinstate his presence there, where he infected the entire network with his lies about the election, among other atrocities.
I only care about this insofar as it affects the entire nation, which becomes afflicted with his rhetoric, riled up, infected and contagious just as surely as if they caught the coronavirus — which, incidentally, has happened to an inordinate amount of COVID-denying, maskless, handshaking Trumpies.
But I’m spending fewer hours on Facebook every week, inspired by the example of my wife, who has purged all social media from her life and is immeasurably happier for it.
It started a couple months ago, when I was scrolling through my feed, exclaiming on those posts that enraged, embarrassed or frightened me, mostly with groans, growls and sighs.
“You only make those noises when you’re on Facebook,” she noticed. That was the beginning of the end for me.
I’m still on there, mostly for professional reasons — to share our articles, to stay abreast of happenings and read the level of the room, to (occasionally) contribute an opinion to the public square — but also to look at pictures of my friends’ kids and see how everybody from high school and college has aged. I’m spending a lot more time on Twitter, which admittedly can be just as toxic but not for me. My curated feed is mostly news sources and fellow journalists I trust, with no obligation to interact with the haters, sock-puppets, low-information loudmouths and straight-up ignoramuses that plague my Facebook presence.
Facebook is over, you know.
They have legislative and political problems. They have continuing monetization challenges. They have technical issues. But the worst of it is that people under 25 years old don’t trust it and don’t use it.
Sure, there are 2.7 billion active users right now, but I’m saying at least a third of the personal accounts are bots and sock puppets. Another third are sales pitches from businesses and brand-building influencers, or straight-up spam. And then there’s the rest of us, an audience of diminishing returns: the olds.
Ask any young person: There are few things sadder than an old trying to be cool on social media.