Eschewing Facebook has left me with some time to fill, and I’ve been trying to fill it with other social media. This is somewhat contrary to my goal, but there’s nothing out there so all-consuming as Facebook (for me), so thankfully, I am still forced to fill time in other ways. But there are still times when I’m left with a small gap to fill and nothing around but a phone, so I thought I’d do a little review of the other social media sites I have been using. By the way, Twitter will not be a part of this review because I hate it. I always have, I always will. It’s 140-characters of pure yawn. But on to other sites, like…
I only got access to Instagram last year when I finally made the transition to a smartphone. Instagram takes me about 40 seconds to check, unlike Facebook, which would take me 40 minutes. There isn’t as much activity on Instagram as Facebook, and I’ve also limited my following list. I like that Instagram’s feed is stable. None of the Facebook bullshit where you might see a post from a friend 18 hours after they posted it, 3 days, or not at all. Instagram posts are always there and always in the same order. Advertising exists but is minimal, and not so annoyingly click-baity, like Facebook’s ads. However, I don’t like the fact that all pictures must be cropped square. I’m not a professional photographer, but I don’t take my pictures with squares in mind and more often than not it ruins the composition. I’m also not really interested in playing with the filters.
I find pinterest useful but cluttered. For every fantastic idea I get, like putting the kid’s cups in baskets on a shelf that she can reach, I have to wade through 100 listicles. My recent favorite was, “7 ways to get the pee smell out of your bathroom.” I didn’t read it, because I’m pretty sure there’s just the one way. Clean. Anyway, I search for lots of things on Pinterest, including teaching ideas and recipes, but mostly I like looking at the pretty houses and trying to get ideas for my house. Ads exist but are minimal. And I can pin articles and other things I find on my own, on the world wide web at large, to my boards, so I can access them again. I find this incredibly handy. Pinterest seems to get more needy the more you use it, though. If I access it, then an hour later I inevitably have an e-mail about more things I should see. If you leave it alone, it leaves you alone.
I love the idea of Goodreads. A place to keep track of all your readings and reviews, and it doesn’t matter where you bought the book or if you borrowed it. The monthly Goodreads newsletters are ones I don’t mind getting, especially the section with new works by authors I’ve read. Occasionally they have interviews with authors that you don’t see elsewhere. Having said all that, I truly hate the Goodreads website. It is a disastrous mess of confusion. Trying to get a book on your shelf and leave a review is not intuitive. Trying to figure out something new is near impossible. It has a feature that you can set the date you started reading a book, but then it’s very difficult to get the book off your “currently reading” shelf if you abandon it. I finally found that option on the mobile app the other day, but I’ve got books on my list that I’ve been “reading” for four years, because there was no way to move or delete them. I set up a whole shelf called “abandoned,” only to realize that all books must be on one of the three main shelves (read, currently-reading, want-to-read) in addition to whatever shelves you create on your own. I’m trying to use the site now to keep track of all the wonderful reading I’m doing while I’m not checking Facebook, but probably at some point I will throw up my hands and say “forget it!” like I always do. There is a social component to Goodreads, in that you can see what your friends are reading or have read, but I don’t find this very interesting. It’s nice to know that friends are reading, but I don’t really care what they’re reading.
Bwahahahahahaha! Just kidding! I deleted my LinkedIn account a few months ago in an attempt to get them to stop frigging e-mailing me, and it seems to have worked. I have never been happier to take personal information offline.
Reddit, YouTube and the Rest
I guess I’m too old to be a real social media “guru.” I occasionally try to get into reddit, but I can’t. I actually found a subreddit devoted exclusively to tea, and even that couldn’t keep me hooked. I post the occasional video to YouTube for posterity and watch the occasional viral video, but that’s it. I’ve heard of Snapchat and Tumblr and Periscope, but I just…I just don’t care. They feel like the fads of a younger generation. They’ll burn bright and fast, and at the end of the day we’ll be left with Facebook, Twitter, and God-willing, an updated UI for the Goodreads site.
I think the way I feel about these social media sites, with varying degrees of interest but not addiction, is the way regular people feel about Facebook. It’s there, they use it, maybe sometimes they use it more than other times, but it’s just a website. Breaking the cycle has been good for me, and I hope to wind up in a place where Facebook holds the same allure as Instagram. It’s all right in a pinch. Facebook, by the way, doesn’t make it easy to quit. It hammers me with emails, several a day, telling me that I’ve missed a bunch of stuff and I should come back and see what’s going on. Imagine what an evil person you’d be if you were constantly trying to entice the local recovering alcoholic to your house with the promise of all the good drinks he’d been missing out on. Facebook knows it’s a monolith built on the shaky soil of social media. It is rightfully worried about the day people realize there are better ways to spend their time.