A Facebook Alternative

Facebook is getting annoying. I know I’m not the only one to observe this, but perhaps my reasons for the observation are at least somewhat unique.

I know the common complaints: it’s a big time sink. It sucks you in, spewing out “interesting articles” that you don’t necessarily want to read, but find yourself reading anyway. It skews your viewpoint, presenting only things that tend to agree with what you think anyway. It gives you far too much information about people who you really don’t need that much information about, potentially destroying some relationships in the process.

The list goes on, but even stopping there, it’s easy to see why people are giving the service up. Why do I continue to use it? Because it also brings some strong advantages to the table: it lets me connect with friends across the country that I wouldn’t see or interact with otherwise. It exposes me to new ideas, because I’ve curated my friends list in a way to make it as useful to me as possible. I share my blog with people who wouldn’t be able to read it otherwise.

In the end, the pros outweigh the cons, and yet I still find myself wishing things were different. My biggest complaint at the moment is that Facebook is really only in this game for Facebook.

I have long noted how frustrating Facebook is for a distribution method for my blog. Some people (a very few) subscribe directly, but the vast majority of people rely on Facebook delivering my blog to them each day if they’re going to read it. (Which, I admit, perhaps says more about how they value my blog than about the delivery mechanism, but work with me.) So a blog post can sink or soar based solely on whether or not a few people “like” it early after its posting. If the algorithms decide people want to read it, it gets shared. It snowballs. It reaches hundreds more people than it would have otherwise.

If it doesn’t? It sinks into oblivion.

In my ideal world, Facebook would allow me to set up what I want to see on my wall. Who I want to see. How much of their stuff I want to see. And if you do a lot of work with the site, you can achieve some of this. But even then it’s a crap shoot. I have family members who actively want to read what I’m writing, who’ve tried to “like” my posts often, and yet Facebook refuses to show my posts in their feed, likely because we’re separated by distance or ideology or some other quirk of the algorithm. Facebook ought to let people correct this.

But it doesn’t. I don’t pay it money to advertise, and so it shoves other things into people’s feeds instead.

I’m not wishing they’d completely abandon their business model. (Though I wouldn’t mind them stop using it for snooping and nefarious purposes.) I just wish they’d give users a bit more control. A way to easily curate what they DO want to see, not just what they DON’T.

But maybe I’m dreaming.

In the meantime, if you actually want to see what I’m saying each day, don’t use Facebook. Try subscribing directly. It gets emailed to you, and then you can delete what you don’t want to see. (Which maybe is more than I’d wish, but oh well.)

You can also use a Feed aggregator to stay on top of blogs. My personal favorite is Feedly, and I still go there every day to see what’s going on with the blogs I care about. Cut Facebook out of the loop entirely. Just sayin’ . . .

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