Midnight Pub

The Facebook Exit

~abacushex

I mentioned in my initial post that exploring the new Gemini protocol and joining a modern-yet-old-school message board (this one) were among the things I'm doing to rediscover my focus, and that I would be journaling the process. The biggest initial leap that I made was quitting the Facebook world altogether. Below was my last post, left up for a few days before deleting (not disabling) my account. It took me a while to decide to do, primarily because of 12(!) years of history on it with my spouse, daughter, and various friends. But a certain clarity about the essence of real friendships won out.

Most of all, I just got tired of it being the numero uno enabler of toxicity and rampaging bullshit, and for the times it sucked me into it. Just one of the many things that gives it my vote for The Worst Thing On The Internet.

(Apologies fellow Pub denizens if any of the references made in the post are a little too sensitive a topic, but I wanted to transcribe this accurately)

===

Eventually you have to stop pointing out that we're all wallowing in a pit of socially and personally destabilizing misinformation and manipulation... and just walk out of the pit. That's one concrete way to make 2021 better than last year.

You don't need to know every opinion and thought I have. I don't need to know yours. The ability to do that might not always bring out the best in us. So here's my last one of either.

Even if I rarely post, where is the benefit to myself or anyone to have an occasional place to go and be snarky or clever or both, when I get fired up? "This pisses me off. I'm gonna tell everybody!" It sure feels like a gratifying outlet. So does passing someone at 95 on the interstate because they're too slow going 80. So does binging on whisky and Reeses peanut butter cups. Doesn't mean it's a good idea. (I cannot confirm or deny either of the above activities)

As it turns out, a massive public network where everyone can spout "their own truth" (whatever the hell that means), that will keep you in a feedback loop of your own biases, and has zero preference for reality built into it, also might not be a good idea. We largely have it to thank for providing megaphones to both QAnon and The Woke. And enabling the anti-vaxxers. And 5G weaponized COVID bats. And supposedly stolen elections for which no one can provide any proof.

As it turns out, there's a reason why historical forms of media have editors and fact checkers, and why journalism is an actual skill and profession. The cure for crappy media and bad journalism is not to take the guard rails off the whole thing- the way forward is to demand better and more ethical media and journalism. Expertise matters. You also get what you pay for. FB has never sent me a bill.

Consider- If you suspect the new vaccines have not been tested enough to trust, realize that we have taken part in this massive experiment on our psychology with no advance testing at all. Just Zuckerburg and others building this and things like it because they could. And the results of this unplanned "phase 1 trial" are in: Social networking is a failed social experiment. It won't stop until we stop doing it.

Whatever benefit is derived here is no longer worth it... in my opinion that you don't need to hear, but I am far from alone. Your threshold for making that decision is up to you, of course. The benefits can largely be found elsewhere, without the same manipulation and toxicity.

If you are someone I talk to even occasionally, you know how to reach me. If you don't know how but want to, you can still PM me for a few days. If we already have a real relationship, then meeting here is not and was never the measure of it.

Even in a physically isolating pandemic, FB, Twitter, and the rest are not the measure of any of your real relationships.

(Also, Xkcd.com is one of the best things on the Internet)

Bon voyage, bitches!

===

(this linked image was in the post)

https://xkcd.com/386/

To all of you and especially m15o that keeps this place running, it's a lovely reminder of the days of dial-up and Compuserve and Usenet to have a venue for conversation that encourages considered thoughts and a slower pace. I quite like it here.


zampano

As I mentioned in my Elegy for Cyberpunk (shameless plug), technological innovations rarely benefit the masses.

https://zampano.midnight.pub/elegyforcyberpunk.html

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abacushex

No shame, I'll check it out :)

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pink2ds

Weird&hateful conspiracy stuff existed back in the Usenet days too.

I like the move from the huge silos Twitter, Insta, Facebook and similar back to forums and mailing lists for purps of a resistance to being exploited commercially, but, we're not going to become immune to polarization and the echo chamber effect. That part might even get worse.

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abacushex

Agreed, and that will always be the case. The critical difference is that in those other methods all input is from other humans and we all see the same thing. What FB has done is perfect the algorithms that magnify biases by detecting those (or even just our interests), and literally showing each of us a different reality.

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pink2ds

Right; but we'll be seeing different realities if we are on different forums also.

You're right about the human input, that's a really good point. The commercialization.

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starbreaker
Weird&hateful conspiracy stuff existed back in the Usenet days too.

It did, but it was only accessible to techies and university students until 1993, and until the Eternal September newbies arrived in sufficiently small numbers that they could be acculturated and encouraged to view the kooks' postings with appopriate skepticism.

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pink2ds

Right, but, I am not sure how that translates to solutions to the situation we are in now.

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starbreaker

It doesn't. I'm just mourning the internet we could have had.

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nsilvestri

Congratulations! I did the same recently. Facebook was the perfect destination for becoming mad and disappointed in the people I've associated with in my life. Not a productive task under any definition.

"At least the rest of my social media has a positive impact on my life," I jest.

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abacushex

Going to add to that, becoming disappointed in myself. It just seems to bring out the worst in us.

I do confess to still having Instagram, but I haven't had the toxicity experience there. I have successfully convinced the algorithm that all I care about is cute dogs and ads for mechanical watches :-)

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starbreaker

This reminds me of something I had posted in the "commonplace book" on my website recently:

We used to have social media in the 1990s. It was called AOL, and there's a reason hardly anybody misses it.

I keep thinking that the reason we got stuck with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. was that the techies responsible suffered from the following flaws:

1. They had no sense of history, and either didn't remember or chose to ignore the examples of platforms like AOL.

2. They got it into their heads that human relationships, identities, and interactions are something that can be reduced to third normal form, stored in a database, and recreated with a join query.

Ordinary internet users got sold a bill of goods. This isn't how we should have brought the world online. We should have gone all-in on decentralization. A home server capable of serving small websites for a household, handling their email, providing secure IM, etc. is perfectly possible, but nobody seems to want to build and sell one aside from the FreedomBox people. Furthermore, Congress should have forced the telecoms to rollout IPV6, provide static IPV6 addresses to households, and allow people to run their own servers out of their own homes as a non-negotiable condition for Federal broadband subsidies.

But instead of empowering individuals to control their own online presence and create their own platforms, we conned them by luring them into a crappy global chatroom where everybody gets their noses rubbed in everybody else's shit.

IMO, social media crossed the Ripley Threshold years ago. Nuke it from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.

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zampano
the "commonplace book" on my website

I'm familiar with the idea of a commonplace book in general, but I'm curious how you've implemented a web-based one.

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starbreaker
but I'm curious how you've implemented a web-based one.

Mostly with HTML and some m4 macros (which is probably not what you meant, but I couldn't resist).

my online commonplace book
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zampano

Hmm ... I've thought about doing something like this with a self-hosted wiki. I do have a Pine64 en route, so maybe that can be something else to add to it....

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starbreaker

It shouldn't be hard. As I said, I did mine with just HTML with some m4 macros for common variables and partials. I build my entire site and upload it with a "make install" command. A self-hosted wiki on a Pine64 shouldn't be much harder. :)

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zampano

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. There are plenty of wiki-like frameworks out there that run on a web server.

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starbreaker

True, but you don't have a run a wiki on a web server, either. You could use something like ikiwiki that takes your wiki pages and generates static HTML that you can upload.

ikiwiki home page

Org mode would do the job, too, if you like Emacs.

Org mode for Emacs
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zampano

I have a very love-hate relationship with org mode. I understand its appeal, and I *want* to like it, but haven't ever been able to get comfortable with it.

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starbreaker

That's perfectly OK. I don't use Org mode for everything, either. But it can be handy for writing emo sci-fi. :)

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abacushex

Interesting thoughts on decentralization. That would have made for a smarter public, and probably participation on lower numbers. Both would be good.

The Ripley Threshold- I love it! Never heard that classic phrase named that way before.

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starbreaker
Interesting thoughts on decentralization. That would have made for a smarter public, and probably participation on lower numbers. Both would be good.

What bugs me is that we *can* use the open internet to speak out, connect, socialize, etc. There is no real need for silos like Facebook. The tech is already available: websites/blogs, RSS feeds, email, XMPP for IM, IRC for group chat. But for various reasons all of this proven, freely available tech has become the province of techies; ordinary people who used to think that Internet Explorer was the internet now think the same of Facebook.

The Ripley Threshold- I love it! Never heard that classic phrase named that way before.

I might have to expound upon this in a separate post. :)

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