Why Facebook makes you so angry
I’ve said it before on this site: I’m what you call a social media professional. That means my day job consists in creating and distributing content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. It also means I have to deal with internet people a lot. Angry internet people who I have never met in my life, but who’s opinions I know in great details. Some of them can be found on Twitter. Others on YouTube. But most of the angry internet people, you’ll meet on Facebook.
Now, I’m not the first person condemning Mark Zuckerberg’s digital utopia. In recent years, almost every major media outlet has ripped Facebook for the instrumental role it played in Donald Trump’s election and the general upholding of tyranny around the world. This is terrible indeed, but it’s not what I want to talk about. Today, I’ll give you four reasons why Facebook drives you mad from an end-user perspective. Why it feels like a fucking dead-end for society. Not Twitter. Not Instragram. Not YouTube. Facebook is, by far, the most divisive social media platform.
A false personal space
Facebook likes to introduce itself as YOUR Facebook page, with a newsfeed tailored to YOUR values and interests and a place where YOU can connect to YOUR friends. That’s why a great majority of users behave on the platform behave like they’re inside their living room. But it’s not what Facebook is. It’s more like a medieval town square or a mic’ed up glass box where everybody can see and judge your actions. The only personal variables on there are meant to identify you: the photos, the cover and the personal information you put in. The rest belongs to everybody.
When YOU share a status or an article, everybody’s entitled to their opinion on it. When YOU comment on something that you scroll be in your newsfeed, YOU’RE exposing your opinion, wits or experiences to the judgement of people who don’t know you. Facebook is not a personal space. It’s a space where you input data about things that interest you, so it can send your targeted publicity afterwards. It wants to you behave like you’re in your living room because it’s where you’re at your “realest”. But don’t say anything you wouldn’t say at a dinner with friends.
People lose their jobs over stupid Facebook posts. Friendships end over irritating comments and not just between shallow millennials. Don’t be that person who think she’s just innocently shooting the shit. You’re not.
The dictatorship of algorithms
This one’s still misunderstood. Facebook likes to tell you that its sophisticated algorithm is meant to curate your newsfeed with only what YOU want to see. That isn’t exactly true. There are billions of users on the platform. BILLIONS. So, it manages your preferences according to what you interact with: your reactions, your shares and your comments (that we know of). If you write an angry comment under a Trump article, it’s considered an interaction. If you share an photo of something you deem alarming, it’s considered an interaction. You get where I’m going with this?
Your newsfeed is not tailored by your tastes and values, it’s tailored by your emotional reactions. That’s why media have refined the art of crafting headlines so alluring, sometimes people comment without even reading the article. That’s why you get more & more Trump articles even if you hate his fucking face. That’s why you think the world is going to shit. It’s because it’s what makes you react. Facebook doesn’t have the time to differentiate between what you really like and what you’re only reacting to. So you have to do it. Reaction is acknowledgement of quality.
I know it’s tough, but you have to stop feeding the algorithm and break your reaction patterns if you want to stop being infuriated on a daily basis. That or you can unfollow medias that piss you off. The problem with that solution is that any media are bound to piss you off at one time or anything. The important is to scroll by without giving any personal input. It doesn’t fucking matter to a media if you do anyway. I should know. I work for one.
The illusion that everyone’s opinion is equal
On Facebook, you’re eventually going to argue with people to who you wouldn’t give the time of day in real life. Backwoods Aunt Betty. That creepy dude from your college days. Random people you wouldn’t even notice in a Starbucks waiting line. Not all these people are created equal and, most important, not all these people are interested in having an intellectually honest debate. They don’t give a fuck about you and your opinion. They just want to win. I know it’s going to be hard to hear, but: sometimes, that person is you. Don’t be that stupid random debater.
There are dumb people on Facebook. A lot. But there are people who are also intellectually lazy or simply disinterested in having a lengthy argument. Older folks who do not grasp the nuances of social media, more than others. They just want to state their opinion and move on. Just like you, sometimes. Especially in someone else’s comment section. If you want a debate, start it. Do it on your terms and make it clear that’s what you want to do. Also, try to remember that you’re not going to change anybody’s mind by calling them racist or uneducated.
Every opinion on Facebook is presented the same. But they’re not all equal. Learn not to debate with someone who just wants to be right or who simply doesn’t want to. Because somebody says something doesn’t means they’re making a declaration of values.
It’s fucking free
This is the only Facebook-related problem that’s not entirely caused by Facebook. Everything is free on the internet and because of that, the notion of value has dwindled. You can log on Facebook and post anything devoid of value for others if it pleases you. You can post Vaporwave memes to a network that’s made out of your coworkers and family if that’s what you want to do. The only cost Facebook can entail for an end-user is a social and emotional one. Because they make money out of your presence by auctioning it to brands that are battling for your attention.
Ever wondered why you get so many advertisement in your newsfeed now? Yes, it’s getting worse because brands have to pay to be seen. But if they pay and win the auction, they have a stranglehold on your newsfeed. They WILL be there. You WILL get an add for a fucking beard straightening comb because you’re a male between 18 and 44 living in North America. That company probably spent 10 000$ on ads to reach people like you and the way Facebook recoups value on your presence is to expose you to it. Nothing is free. Even when it is.