Sunday 19 January 2020

An open letter to the Facebook friends I just unfollowed - Adrian Weckler

There are a number of reasons to unfollow people on Facebook
There are a number of reasons to unfollow people on Facebook
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Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Dear Facebook friends, Sorry, but I just unfollowed you. I just can't take any more of your updates. And it's for one or more of these six reasons.

1. You're tiresomely gullible

So you really believe that Apple "has an overstock of iPhone 7" handsets and is giving 10,000 of them away based on whoever likes and shares that Facebook post? Or that Range Rover is giving away 10 new cars for those who leave a comment? Or that Facebook is about to claim copyright of your name and personal information?

As deluded as that is, at least it's benign stupidity. Worse is the wide-eyed dopiness that makes people share pages purporting to comfort an amputee victim or the survivor of a horrible, disfiguring fire. "Like and share to let her know she's beautiful after all," it says.

Guess what, suckers? That page is almost certainly a scam set up to harvest as many 'likes' and 'shares' as possible. When it gets to a few million or so, it switches out the heart-warming content for an ad promoting some growth hormone pills or something. Or the scammer simply sells the page (complete with all of your likes and shares). Because you "liked" it, you (and maybe me) are now sentenced to see those spammy ads.

2. You keep going on about your seemingly perfect family and life

A few months back, I presented a documentary on TV3 about the drawbacks of social media. One young woman told me she had quit Facebook altogether because "it keeps making me feel bad". She was referring to the barrage of flawless photos posted by friends and acquaintances of themselves or their flawless children.

I don't think she's alone. There is a strong streak of exhibitionism (and a hunt for "likes" and complimentary comments) running through some Facebook posts of kids and families. Don't get me wrong: I like seeing photos of how my friends are getting on with loved ones. But so many posed, stilted, one-dimensional images make for a boring and irritating feed.

3. You're plugging your own wares non-stop

The old Glengarry Glenross adage of "always be selling" might seem gutsy in a start-up-themed world, but it's a drag when it's unrelenting. There's nothing wrong with being proud of what you do or what you're building. And the odd post is fine. But I'm not that interested in every little thing you're doing to help sell your product or service. I'll reconnect to your feed when you're not in such a one-track mindset.

4. You're dangerous

No, there isn't a white van driving around Marino looking for kids to snatch. And sorry, but I don't believe that "an African male" has set up a paedophile ring in Rathmines according to "suspicious" behaviour that has been "noticed by locals".

Vigilance and caution against legitimate communal danger is one thing. Sharing wild, unfounded rumours that whip up a frenzy and scare people is quite another. Take your torch-and-pitchfork mob mentality elsewhere.

5. You're overdoing the armchair politics

I know Trump is an idiot. I agree that UKIP has some loons. And yes, Vladimir Putin is scary. Facebook is good for raising awareness all sorts of important stuff, much of it interesting and worthy. But there is a limit. I'm only human. Constantly posting about your particular political hobbyhorse becomes a little like a siren. If anything, it irritates rather than informs or persuades. Similarly, reposting all the stuff that everyone else is posting makes you a repeat channel. Obviously, this is a personal preference: some people love non-stop politics!

6. You keep posting inspirational quotes in Sanskrit fonts

Inspirational quotes could be considered a little like religion. While moving for some, it may be best to keep them to yourself. (I'm the worst sort of person to throw inspirational quotes at anyway, as I'll always look for a hole.)

It's even worse when you throw in some psychedelic colours, footprints in the sand or wispy-bearded sages to illustrate the wisdom.

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