This shouldn’t be surprising. And it probably wouldn’t take quitting to arrive at the same conclusion. But let me back up and see how I got here.
How I Got Here
Social networking really took off with MySpace in the early 2000s, where teenagers (at my time) created online profiles and had “friend” connections—at the time these were mainly just links that said something about who you were close to. You could interact slightly and comment on things, but it was really all about the profile, and people like me had fun customizing theirs and “rebranding themselves” occasionally 😜. Then came Facebook that really won the connection battle, more closely mimicking real relationships (even romantic ones!), allowing better sharing of content with discussions, and popularizing the News Feed™ stream of everything our connections were doing/posting/saying/liking. We hadn’t seen anything like this online, and it was so exciting in college to connect with new “friends,” learn about (stalk?) them, and keep up with people.
Why It’s Great
Since inception, Facebook really has been an incredible product to watch. Things were changed and added constantly, and it almost became its own phenomenon to see what my profile was going to look like next week. Facebook is the one-stop hub of our online presence. We can stay in touch with people from high school, learn about distant family updates, and discover what our best friends are doing today. We can form public or private groups, market businesses, and share and debate opinions with the largest free audience available. This is all very empowering and makes us feel important (even if we’re really not)! The list goes on, but I can’t overstate how convenient it is to spend 30 minutes on Facebook and gather more information about so many people than ever before.
Where Things Go Wrong
Seth Godin says “every interaction comes at a cost” in the attention economy. His advice is for the marketer, reminding her how brittle and valuable attention really is; however, the advice is the same on the consuming end: every interaction comes at a cost. Every time I open my phone, subconsciously type into a browser “face” + Enter, or scroll up one more time to see if anything’s…