connected

No, I’m not asking a rhetorical question. Can we stay connected? Is it even possible?

Yesterday, I covered a number of troubling trends on the social giant, but we haven’t seen the worst. Facebook is designed to be addictive, but until I started reading quotes from some of its early founders, I had no idea HOW addictive. The LIKE button is a feedback loop, a shot of dopamine for the ego.

Facebook recently blamed users for feeling bad when they scrolled through their newsfeeds. Instead of lurking around posts about vacations, promotions, and successes, they claim we should post more of our own updates. You know, use the site more. Like telling a heroin addict to shoot up more for a better hit. Eventually, enough drug kills the user.

I seriously want to end my toxic relationship with Facebook before I become a mindless Zuckerbot.

But I’ve tried. I’ve tried different platforms. (People simply won’t invest in them. They’d rather stare up Facebook’s gonorrhea-infested asshole for hours every day.) I’ve tried more e-newsletters. (People don’t read them. Hell, I don’t read newsletters, either.) I’ve tried Facebook vacations, where I sometimes don’t log into the site for a month or more. (I miss certain people I only see there.)

We’re more connected than we’ve ever been. Yet, I feel lonelier than I ever have.

But I’m doing something about it.

I’m starting my own social network.

You read that correctly. I’m starting my own network in a place I own and control. In the coming weeks, I’m reaching out to everyone who matters to me, and I’m inviting them to join my social network.

What if nobody joins? Won’t I feel lonesome?

No.

People who care about me will join. Why am I even spending time keeping up with people who don’t? Plus, my social network will be federated with over a million people who’ve done the same thing. Joining my social network will link members with people all over the world who are just as fed up with social-media-as-usual.

And in my social network:

  1. Nobody will be tracking your activity. As long as you follow the rules, you can do whatever you want.
  2. Your personal information will not be sold. Not to advertisers. Not to ANYONE.
  3. The master system bans all of the following content: racism, fascism, overt advertising, harassment, trolling, and intolerance due to sexual orientation.
  4. Political posts can be made with a ‘show more’ feature.
  5. Users can post nudity and other content not suitable for work by using the NSFW button…..because I know everybody I’ll invite will want to post nekkid pictures.

I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve told me how much they hate Facebook. Well, we can either be lazy and hate it while continuing to feed it. Or, we can find another alternative.

I HOPE YOU’LL JOIN MY SOCIAL NETWORK WHEN I INVITE YOU.

Already know you’d like to give it a try? Send your name and e-mail address to assistant(at)andrawatkins(dot)com. We’ll put you on the list and add you when it’s ready.

 

facebook

2017 wasn’t a great year for many of us, but it was a blistering twelve months for Facebook.

Facebook branded itself as a connector. And when it was first embraced by the adult population, it operated to enhance our lives. I found people I hadn’t seen in decades, reached out to family members, and gave readers the ability to talk with me whenever they liked.

I remember when everything started to change.

With outside encouragement, I spent money to optimize my Facebook author page. The week we rolled it out, Facebook introduced their earliest algorithm. They removed the ability of page admins to see who was liking our pages. They started shrinking options for contacting our connections.

Finally, they introduced the opportunity for us to PAY. If we wanted people who’d chosen to see our posts to actually see them, we could PAY. They wanted us to pay to boost each post. And what do you know? Facebook recommended that pages make at least five a day. Additional advertising opportunities cost even more money. Every time I turned around, Mark Zuckerberg was putting his billionaire hands in my meager savings.

Even more frustrating? Facebook limits personal reach.

People post everything on Facebook and assume their connections see it. WRONG. Facebook’s current algorithm limits how many of our individual posts hit the newsfeed. By their own admission, they reward use. In a recent article in The Guardian, their leadership actually said people should use their platform more if they want to feel better.

Other troubling tidbits about Facebook?

  1. Former FB executive Chamath Palihapitiya said on the record that sites like Facebook are tearing society apart.
  2. According to Ex-FB President Sean Parker, FB is made to exploit human vulnerability.
  3. Tech insiders who had a hand in creating the platforms we now use admit our minds can be hijacked.
  4. Facebook was found to be routing advertising revenue through Ireland as part of the Paradise Papers investigation. What that means? They were paying almost no income tax on it.
  5. The Russians purchased advertising through FB and set up numerous fake accounts, impacting our last presidential election.
  6. FB follows every click you make on their site. Every like. Every hover. If you use the app on your phone, they record everywhere you go. Every store. Every doctor’s appointment. If you use FB Messenger, they record everything you say and compile it to sell to advertisers. NOTHING YOU DO IS PRIVATE.

Other platforms like Google, Twitter, and Amazon also have these problems. I AM THROUGH WATCHING BILLIONAIRES GET RICHER. I REFUSE TO CONTINUE TO FEED THEM MY PERSONAL INFORMATION. AND I DON’T CARE WHAT IT COSTS ME.

If you’re interested in what I’m planning to do to stay connected to people I care about, tune in tomorrow.

LINKS TO RECOMMENDED READING:

Facebook Admits It Poses Mental Health Risk – But Says Using Site More Can Help – The Guardian, December 17, 2017

Former Facebook Executive: Social Media Is Ripping Society Apart – The Guardian, December 17, 2017

Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker: Site Made to Exploit Human Vulnerability – The Guardian, November 9, 2017

Our Minds Can Be Hijacked: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia – The Guardian, October 5, 2017

Facebook Criticized For Responses on Russia and Brexit – The Guardian, December 13, 2017

And if you don’t have my books, GET THEM HERE.

I came into my Trélex Writers Desk Residency expecting some things, but I knew it would be even more challenging because of the issues I've had.

Residencies are scary. Rooming with strangers. Sharing everything. Only basic creature comforts. I came into my Trélex Writers Desk Residency expecting those things, but I knew it would be even more challenging because of the issues I’ve had. An inability to write and at times put together a cogent thought. Doubt feeding doubt feeding doubt….an avalanche of doubt. I walked into a tiny Swiss village a dried husk, convinced I’d leave unaltered.

My heart is fuller. My mind is still. I emerged from my residency cell unwilling to return to the noisy, screeching, clashing chords of my world.

Thoughts From My Last Day In Nyon

Time in any cell alters a psyche. I dreaded the quiet, afraid I’d hear absence, a void, a black hole of nothingness. But I relished the quiet, too. My world is too loud, and I’m complicit in the discordant cacophony. I surf the internet when I should be making words. Scroll through my newsfeed when I should be setting up my next trip. Read second-by-second news updates when I already know the world has become a soap opera: I can pick up a thread of the plot anytime because it creeps in its deluge of data. I may’ve slain a pack of hungry lions, but my blood pressure is lower than it’s been in three years. My heart is fuller. My mind is still. I emerged from my cell unwilling to return to the noisy, screeching, clashing chords of my world.

I walked along Lake Geneva's shore on my last night of residency and tried to weave a tapestry, intricate, tight, resolute.

I’m not commenting on what others choose to do with their time, only how my residency helped me understand my role in contributing to noise, to stress, to strife, to crap that doesn’t matter. I walked along Lake Geneva‘s shore on my last night and tried to weave a tapestry, intricate, tight, resolute. My life was permanently changed last year. I hope I use what remains to be a positive force in the world……and that means guarding the tapestry I wove like I spun it from gold and spangled it with precious stones. I can’t take care of anyone if I’m not taking care of myself.

I'm also grateful to the other residents, especially painter James Kao, who was there for my full three weeks of residency.

I’m grateful to Nina Rodin for giving me this opportunity. She opens her home to strangers and shares everything-cars and laundry and guests and garden bounty-with them. I’m in awe of her unbounded generosity. I’m also grateful to the other residents, especially painter James Kao, who was there for my full three weeks. I needed to meet a fellow American who’s grounded right now. Some of James’s zen rubbed off on me.

Leave your noisy cares in the water, and come away whole. It works for me, as long as I avoid my phone.

So I end with a challenge. For me. And for you, Dear Reader. Next time you walk by any body of water, be it a fountain, a puddle, a pool, or a lake, take off your shoes. Run through it. Splash. Plunge your feet in. Leave your noisy cares in the water, and come away whole. It works for me, as long as I avoid my phone. 🙂

———-

P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

The book I’m working on now is a sequel to the others in the Nowhere Series so if you haven’t read the first two – go get them now!