how i wish we used social media

i've been thinking a lot about how we relate to each other and the way i've seen people use facebook. in particular, people can't seem to stop scrolling through their news feed when they're in between activities (like waiting for their lyft or waiting for their friend to come back from the bathroom). yet, i hear a lot about how people wish they "wasted" less time on facebook. so why keep coming back? i'm curious what the signal-to-noise ratio is like for others. to make visiting facebook worthwhile for me, i've been doing stuff like keeping my number of friends to a minimum and actively unfollowing people that post stuff i'm generally not excited about.

i miss the days of xanga and livejournal when people took the time to brain dump stuff with little or no editing. as someone who's always been fascinated by human behavior and motivation and what goes on inside other noggins, i loved viewing a snapshot of my friends' thought processes. what do people think about when they're by themselves? what kinds of stuff do they worry about? or get excited about? what pisses them off?

as the internet evolved, i saw that blogs became less about individuals' scattered thoughts and ideas and more about educating others (i.e., creating blogs around a central theme or purpose) and publishing polished content. at some point, i started to feel extremely aware that anything i posted online would become semi-permanent and subject to judgment by strangers or acquaintances. even as i write this, i'm wondering whether there'll be any unintended consequences and how it'll come off to people i've never conversed with one-on-one.

what i *actually* want is some sort of wonderful version of facebook where my friends post original content only. my current news feed feels a lot like reddit's front page; it's filled with links to articles or "Cool Friend liked this." and "Other Cool Friend is going to an event." sure, there's value in that (since i often end up reading interesting articles and learning about events i otherwise wouldn't have heard of) but i want some sort of option that allows me to view only the more personal stuff.

my favorite posts are those where someone's sharing news about stuff that's actually going on in their lives. like... "i'm super excited about this awesome new job i got! it's a totally different role, but the people are rad and the mission is something that resonates with every fiber of my being. yayyyyyy!" or "halp i had a rly taxing day and would like to talk about it :(". or photos of their paintings. or videos of a dance routine they've been practicing. or a poem they wrote. or a buncha words/images that describe their current emotional state. or a call for activity partners.

i've been trying to figure out how to be the change i wanna see, but it's difficult when facebook norms seem to be about shying away from real talk, collecting a million "friends" and followers, and (sometimes) creating a persona to convince others (...and yourself?) that you're an interesting person.

there was a period in time when i was optimistic about snapchat and its potential for being the kinda of social platform (besides irl interactions) i've been looking for. when trying to persuade my friends to sign up for or make more frequent use of snapchat, most of them (in their late 20s and early 30s) gave me the o_O face and replied with "i'm too old for that shit" or "who has time for that shit?". if the reasons for using snapchat aren't immediately apparent to you, allow me to spell them out:

  • the stuff you post is visible for less than a day (-ish). there's more space for vulnerability and less room for overthinking things (i.e., will future employers see this? will potential dates see this? will they judge me for this thing i posted days/months/years ago?).

  • there are no lazy "likes" or reactions. people either respond with actual words or they don't. much like in real life. (odd pet peeve of mine: when i ask a question on facebook and people "like" the post without answering the question. what's the point? speak up! or private message me if you don't want the whole world to see your opinion!)

  • in some sense, everything is raw. you experience a slice of your friend's life almost as if you're right there with them in that moment.

  • (aside from the stories feature) you handpick who has permission to see each snap, which means you know exactly who can see it, and (theoretically) makes it feel more personal because it was sent specifically to each individual.

anyway. if anyone feels similarly, i'd be interested in talking more about it and seeing if there's some way to turn facebook into something that feels less wasteful and more like the useful tool i want it to be.