Several months ago, I started thinning my Facebook feed. I love Facebook, I really do, particularly from its early days of vacation photos, kids’ pictures and snapshots of what people were having for dinner.
Like most people, I’ve been down that rabbit hole of Facebook fights, posting something on Facebook that either disagrees with something someone wrote or getting slammed by someone else.
Over the past couple of years, in particular, with our country becoming so divided and the explosion of infuriating fake news on Facebook, I found that my daily visits to Facebook were fraught with anxiety (I still get the same anxiety on Twitter, but I’ll save that for another column). On Facebook, I invariably saw something that made me mad or something posted that was easily refuted with a simple response of logic. It got to be too much. It was affecting my mental health.
Last summer, my family and I went on a vacation to tour several national parks, and I posted updates every day on our progress. Around that same time, someone posted that they were sick of seeing vacation pics, to which I responded, “I’m bringing Facebook back to its original intent: vacation photos and pictures of your dinner!”
And so I began a multiweek exercise of removing friends and news sources from my Facebook feed. If someone posted something ridiculously partisan or fake news, or if I saw that person was doing nothing but political posts, I just unfriended him or her. I unfriended family members. Then I unfriended news sites. I unfollowed The New York Times, The Washington Post, local TV news feeds. (I read a couple of newspapers daily and the Sunday New York Times. I’m good. And quite honestly, even the news sites that I still followed, I am seeing fewer and fewer of their posts anyway.) Then I started liking, reacting and commenting on friends’ and family members’ posts about their vacations, pictures of their dinners, their hikes to the top of New Hampshire mountains.
Today, my Facebook feed is a calming, happy place filled mostly with baby pictures, vacation photos, sports updates, family photos, concert videos and, of course, updates on snow conditions at Bogus Basin.
Let me tell you, it is wonderful.
No more high blood pressure. No more heated Facebook fights. No more anxiety checking to see if someone responded to your response to their retort to a response on a news story that no one actually clicked on to begin with.
This might seem like an odd comment from a newspaper editor, whose job it is to inform people, but: Ignorance is bliss.
But I mean ignorance of a certain level of distasteful discourse that has come to dominate social media and denigrate our society. I really wish I had never read any of the posts about pizzagate or followed the Twitter thread into the conspiracy theories of the Las Vegas shooter. I could have done without the fake news story that Pope Francis endorsed Trump for president. I’d gladly be ignorant of those wackos spreading misinformation, either through delusion or through malicious intent. Either way, it’s no good, and you’re better off without it.
Today, I’m content to get my news from the newspapers I read.
Facebook can stick to showing me a video of my friend’s new baby or photos from my sister’s vacation.